A Sylvan Lake woman who is recovering from a liver transplant is urging people to consider becoming an organ donor.
Corinne Mielnichuk says the list of those willing to be a live organ donor is surprisingly short, which makes wait times long and rough for those in need of life-saving procedures.
Most people wait for a transplant to become available from a deceased donor, which adds a new level of difficulty, according to Mielnichuk.
“You can’t go anywhere, you can’t work, you can’t even have people over, really, because when you get that call, you have to be at the hospital within two hours,” she said of being on the wait list for a deceased organ.
“If you don’t live within two hours of the hospital, then they will move on to the next person in line. Your life is basically on hold.”
She was on the wait list for approximately two years before a live organ donation became available.
In February, she underwent a successful surgery, and has just recently been given the go-ahead from her doctors to begin working again.
“It changed my life: that is what I want people to know. It changed my life and the life of my family,” said Mielnichuk.
She says waiting is also incredibly hard for family members, who watch their loved ones “dying every day.”
“My daughter was constantly worried for me, and my husband was always concerned I would get the call and no one would be around to help me get to the hospital, because he was at work.”
Live organ donations can mean the patient and their families can better plan their lives.
Normally, when a suitable live donor is found, a date is scheduled for the surgery. This means regular tasks and planning can be done in advance.
What is disappointing, Mielnichuk says, is that many people don’t understand how difficult it is to find a match for donation.
“Most people might say, ‘if my family member needs one, then I will donate.’ But, they don’t realize that there is a very good chance you won’t be a match for your family member,” she said.
“But if you aren’t a match, I hope you would consider still donating to someone else who you are a match with.”
She says those who are considering becoming a donor should think about the lives they could change, the ones that will be saved.
“I have a friend who was given six months to live if he doesn’t get a transplant. I can’t imagine being his family and watching him die as they wait,” said Mielnichuk.
More information about becoming an organ or tissue donor, or to register to become one, can be found at www.myhealth.alberta.ca