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

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.

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