A powerful journey from living with an artificial heart to a heart transplant....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Victor Davis Memorial Ride

As a volunteer with Trillium, I was invited to be part of the Victor Davis Memorial Ride. Here's a part of the invitation, I couldn't explain it better myself...

"Victor Davis was an Olympic swimmer who represented and won medals for Canada at two separate Olympic games. He was also an organ and tissue donor. This summer his brother, Greg Davis, will be cycling from Guelph to Quebec City to promote the importance of registration of organ and tissue donation consent in memory of his late brother, Victor Davis.
The Victor Davis Memorial Ride will celebrate transplant recipients participating at the Canadian Transplant Games in Quebec City, August 9-14, 2010. Greg will be stopping at several hospitals along his cycling journey to increase awareness for organ and tissue donation."

It was a pleasure to meet Greg Davis and other organ recipients at this event. I think I was the only one actually waiting for an organ.... Not uncommon.

Learn more about his ride and Victor Davis HERE.

Here's a few nice pics of Greg and the group riding with him.

And of course, my supporters!!!

It's a great thing that Greg is doing. As a future recipient, I thank you Greg. Your hard work is making a difference.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What would you do to raise awareness?

As part of a heart transplant support group out of Toronto called Heartlinks, I was invited to a presentation by Dr. Heather Ross (my cardiologist at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto) about her recent journey to the North Pole.This was another one of her "Test Your Limits" adventures to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation. A heart transplant recipient, Dale Shippam joined her along with another doctor from Montreal, Dr. Michel White. They wanted to prove to the world that a heart transplant doesn't prevent people from living an extraordinary life. And that they certainly did.

Visit the Test Your Limits blog here for more details on their journey, the team and their support.

There was one story Dr. Ross told us that has stuck in my mind. They were skiing in the freezing cold weather and they got hit by a storm. They set up their tents and waited for the storm to pass. It was a very serious and scary time. She said that it was even noticeable in the guides body language that the situation was concerning. She was worried that they may never get out of the storm. Dale, the transplant recipient said something to her that certainly changed her outlook. He said, "Now you know what it's like to wait...." As a doctor, she has experienced the wait for a heart transplant in a different way, never the one waiting to "live or die". That seemed like a very powerful moment. I'm so glad she shared it with us. They waited in their tents, doing virtually nothing for 60 hours.

As a thank you from the Heartlinks group, Dr. Ross was given a token of appreciation for sharing the details of her journey with us. It comes with a little story. On her travels, one of the biggest concerns they had was running into a polar bear. They carried a gun and were always conscious of the fact that they could come around at any time. Thank goodness they never ran into a bear. So as a little gift to Dr. Ross a Heartlinks member dressed up as a polar bear to give her a safe wildlife experience. It was really funny and she loved it.

Big thanks to Dr. Ross for sharing her story and for doing such an amazing thing to raise awareness for a cause that has saved the lives of everyone in the room. And a big thank you to the Heartlinks group for hosting such a great event and getting everyone together.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Walk in someone else's shoes.

There is a new TV show on that started about 5 weeks ago. Those of you that like medical drama and even those that just like to see what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes, this is the show for you. Boston Med. Thursday nights at 10pm. You can check out their website here.

There have been events such as a police officer shot in the face, two lung transplants, removal of a brain tumor, babies with heart defects, a twelve-year-old hit by a car, an eight-year-old with cardiac complications, several heart problems and none-other-than, heart transplants.

Last week there was a young girl, even younger than me, that underwent a heart transplant surgery. It was incredible to watch. You can watch this episode here.

And just last night there was a man brought in with serious cardiac complications. While the cameras were filming, the doctor went through the process of approving him for a heart transplant. This was a crazy thing to watch. I will tell you that not all stories have a happy ending. It's a reality check. You can watch this episode here.

Don't forget to put a box of kleenex close to you before you start watching.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sharing Inspiration

There's an article in the Toronto Star I am so proud to share. My good friend and ex-pump-pal Jenn shares her story. She is an inspiration to all of us enduring something difficult. She is always open and proud to portray her appreciation for life, every day.
Jenn was my mentor when I was implanted with the LVAD and I remember the first day she came to the hospital to visit me after my surgery. It was 2 days after my surgery and I expected to just live with the intense pain. She walked in with my nurse and when introduced, I thought, yeah right, she doesn't have an LVAD. Jenn looked like a normal person. She gave me something to look forward to. For a while, after every concern about my limitations I said, well, Jenn can do it!
Thank you Jenn for being my inspiration.
You can read her story here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let's be real.

Alright people. It's been two hundred and sixty-nine days today. And I'm starting to loose it.

We all know that I'm always positive and I make efforts to channel my passion in the right direction. Blah, blah, blah. Right now, let's be real.

This is frustrating. I'm waiting, and waiting, and waiting..... It's time for the next phase of my life.

People often ask me. What is it like to wait?

My answer a few months back would have been - Oh it's not that bad. I keep myself busy and try not to think about it. I have picked up a few hobbies and try to focus on short term goals.

While that is all true, that's not the part I want to express today.

What's it like to wait? Well I feel great and I want my life back. I'm ready to go through it all again just so that I can get to the normal parts of life. I'm ready for the rush drive to Toronto, the catheter in my neck, the IV's, the hospital food, the open-ass gown. I'm even ready for the open heart surgery, the sternotomy, the arterial line, the drugs, the ventilator, the pain, the intense pain, the constant sleeping on my back, the nurses at 6am. I'm ready. Let's get this show on the road.

I've been told I'm close, if not at the top of the list. I was told that about 2 months ago. My list is quite different. As most of you probably know, the list depends on several things. Such as, blood type, antibodies, chest cavity size, body weight, and other factors I don't really know about. So I'm smaller than the average bear and my blood type is the most common blood type. I am more than happy to wait if someone comes in that requires an immediate transplant. I feel good and I can wait. I have to keep telling myself that's why I'm waiting. It's not because people won't register to donate or they just won't donate.... I'm thinking positive!

Attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with that.

For five minutes I'm going to dwell on that 10%.

Alright I'm back. Anyone want to go for a bike ride?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Members of the LVAD Club

It's incredible how widely know the LVAD is. I just heard that Dick Cheney, a former vice president recently had the LVAD implanted. His situation is quite different. Check out the links below.

AOL News

Fox News

I also found out that there were 5 in-patients in Toronto General Hospital that were implanted with the LVAD. To me, this means that these 5 lives were saved and there must be more funding to the program to make this possible. Whether it be direct donations or decisions made by staff and doctors, they should be proud that they saved another 5 lives.

If those patients have connected with my blog, I would like to say welcome to our elite club! You are very well taken care of and I wish you the best. Send me a message, I would love to connect with you.

Monday, July 5, 2010


In leiu of my recent experiences, I have been busy exercising my creative side and designing t-shirts. The website is:


You can check out the t-shirts I have created or you can use my designs to create something a little different to suit your needs. There are several shirts to choose from and other standard designs you can use on your shirts as well.

I am just an email away if there is something specific you are looking for. I am adding products regularly. If you don't find something, check back a little later to see if there is something new that you like.

We need to make known the importance of organ donation. Many lives are affected and most of the population just doesn't understand until they are in the situation. Please check out my products and support the cause. I have been waiting for 255 days for my heart, we need all the help we can get.

Thank you so much.