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For Immediate Release
April 7, 2016
(LONDON, Ontario) – April is “Be A Donor” month in Ontario, raising awareness about the need for organ and tissue donors in Ontario. Two people who know all about the importance of organ donation include a mother who donated her son’s organs to help save others, and a London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) physician who was recently recognized for his lifetime commitment to organ donation awareness.
LHSC is pleased to congratulate Dr. Michael Sharpe, a intensivist at LHSC’s University Hospital, on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) for his lifelong commitment to organ donation awareness. The award is presented to a physician who is a strong advocate for organ and tissue donation both internal and external to the hospital, who mentors other hospital staff and physicians on the importance of organ donation and who has illustrated a dedication to advancing donation practices.
As a critical care physician who trained at LHSC, Dr. Sharpe says the hospital’s regional trauma program and neurosciences specialties means that LHSC cares for patients who unfortunately have suffered significant injury, making them candidates for organ donation. Years ago when Dr. Sharpe and his team approached a family about the possibility of donating their loved one’s organs, not many people knew much about it. “It was a totally new concept,” he says. “Today, in many instances families are actually the first to bring up the subject when their loved one has had a significant injury.”
One mother who understands all too well the importance of organ donation awareness is Ann Hider, 79, whose son Barry McGucken became an organ donor following his sudden death from a brain aneurysm in 1984. While there was not the same level of awareness about the importance of organ donation back then, Hider says it was fortuitous that just six weeks before her son’s death he told her that he had just signed his organ donor card. “There wasn’t the same level of awareness about organ donation then, so it was like a miracle that he came in and told me that when he did,” says Hider.
Two teenagers ended up with her son’s kidneys and another young girl received his eyes. Hider says it brings her comfort to know that her son was able to help save and improve the lives of others—which is exactly why Dr. Sharpe will continue working with his team to increase organ donation awareness.
“What I’ve learned over the years is the beneficial impact organ donation has on donor families,” says Dr. Sharpe. “In talking to patients’ families who have donated, it’s a tremendous benefit for the grieving families. So my resolve in all of this is to ensure each and every potential organ donor’s family has had the opportunity to make the decision.”
Both Dr. Sharpe and Hider underscore the importance of talking about your end-of-life wishes with your family, and with taking the step to register your consent to be an organ donor at BeADonor.ca/LHSC.
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About London Health Science Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been at the forefront of medicine in Canada for 141 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children’s Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, the Kidney Care Centre, two family medical centres, and two research institutes – Children’s Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 65 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca
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