LHSC Administrative Partner named provincial organ and tissue donation champion by Ontario Health

Alaina Marles with her TGLN award

April 22, 2024

For the first time in its 22-year history, an administrative staff member has been awarded the Provincial Donation Champion Award by the Ontario Health Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN).

Alaina Marles, Administrative Partner to the Director, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiac Surgery Recovery Unit (CSRU), Transplant and Respiratory Therapy Service at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), took home the 2023 award for her contributions to University Hospital’s busy Critical Care program.

Typically awarded to frontline health care providers, the Provincial Donation Champion Award is given annually to those the provincial program considers exceptional advocates for organ and tissue donation.

Marles was nominated by members of LHSC's critical care and Ontario Health TGLN teams for going above and beyond to ensure the donation process at LHSC runs as smoothly as possible. In her role, she coordinates the unit’s finances, facilitates communication between various program stakeholders and supports special projects, among other administrative functions.

Left to right: Joseph Gajasan, Janet Taylor, Dr. Marat Slessarev, Alaina Marles and Dr. John Basmaji

“Alaina is the glue that keeps us together and moving forward,” says Joseph Gajasan, Director, ICU, Cardiac Surgery Recovery Unit, Transplant and Respiratory Therapy Service at LHSC. “We are so proud and grateful for her amazing support and advocacy.”

Marles has always felt that working in critical care is in her blood. Her mother, Jean Dobson, was an ICU nurse at LHSC for 16 years and would frequently bring Marles to staff BBQs and baseball games, where she got to know and love the team at a young age.

Fast forward to today and Marles herself has been employed at LHSC for over 15 years. She started as a porter before moving into various clerical roles at Victoria Hospital, eventually transitioning to a role with the Critical Care team at University Hospital in 2011.

Marles didn’t know she had been nominated for the award but found out she was the recipient one evening while she was home with her family and her cell phone started chiming with congratulatory messages.

“I was shocked to hear the Ontario Health TGLN team chose me,” says Marles. “You always think it’s going to be someone involved in direct patient care, but it feels good to know that people value my behind-the-scenes work all the same. I’m just so humbled and grateful."

Marles received her award in early April, which is Be a Donor month. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation and to encourage people to register to become a donor.

According to Ontario Health, the province contributed to 1,152 essential transplants in 2023. During this time, LHSC supported 32 organ donors and 89 tissue donors, all of whom collectively saved 92 lives.