Transplant program holds celebration to mark special milestones

October 13, 2017

With a loud whistle, organ transplant advocate and LHSC volunteer Bill Brady warmly welcomed the crowd to the celebration held in the transplant unit’s lobby at LHSC’s University Hospital on Sept. 22. In his introduction he fondly recalled being the Master of Ceremonies for both the opening of University Hospital and the opening of the multi-organ transplant unit, expressing his honour in officiating yet another significant celebration.

For the Multi-Organ Transplant Program this year has brought two important milestones. It marks both the 30th anniversary of the opening of the transplant unit, the first of its kind in Canada, and the 40th anniversary of the first liver transplant at LHSC. The latter has become especially meaningful today as some of our earliest liver recipients are the longest surviving in Canada and among the longest surviving in the world.

The event included a historical look-back at the many great achievements the program has had, as well as a look-ahead to the types of advancements they envision reaching in the future. Nearly all of the  speakers touched upon the idea of how innovative thinking, supported by both translational research findings and administration, has served as the backbone behind LHSC’s ability to pioneer and lead in the field of organ transplantation over the years. 

Event speakers included program co-directors, Dr. Anthony Jevnikar and Dr. Patrick Luke, Blackburn family representative, Sarah White, VP of surgical services, Cathy Vandersluis, former program director, Dr. William Wall, and the program’s first director, Dr. Cal Stiller. In addition to current and past members of the transplant team and hospital leadership, the attending crowd included many recipients and their family members, bringing a special intimacy and meaning to the celebration.

The renowned Walter J. Blackburn Multi-Organ Transplant Unit was driven by the visionary work of Dr. Cal Stiller. The unit was named to honour philanthropist Walter Blackburn who served as president of the London Health Association from 1969 to 1973. In 2014, the unit was renamed the Stiller Blackburn Multi-Organ Transplant Unit to recognize the contributions of Dr. Stiller, in partnership with the Blackburn family.

More photos from the celebration are available on LHSC’s Facebook page.

Be a donor

While continuous advancements in the field have meant that organ transplants are typically no longer the headline-grabbing procedures they once were, the need for people to register their consent to donate and to share their wishes with their loved ones remains great. One donor can save up to eight lives and registering as a donor or checking your status is easy. Look on the back of your photo health card for the word “donor” or check online at LHSC’s BeADonor. You just need your health card number and two minutes to register!

Former transplant patients and staff gather for the 30th anniversary of the unit

Former transplant patients and staff gather for the 30th anniversary of the unit