Hugs and hope at Transplant Trot

By Geoff Lee

January 27, 2016 2:22 PM

Approximately 250 people took off at the start of the Canadian Transplant Association's indoor 5K Transport Trot at the Lloydminster Servus Sports Centre Saturday.

It was an emotional day of hugs and hope at the Lloydminster Servus Sports Centre walking track.
Approximately 250 organ donors, recipients and supporters turned up Saturday for the Canadian Transplant Association 5K Transplant Trot to raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.
“It was phenomenal,” said regional CTA coordinator and race director Donna Krilow-Lorenz.
“It shows the community that organ and tissue donation has impacted many of us.”
The event featured a one lap recognition walk for donors like Lloydminster’s Breanne Lazerte who saved the life of her mom Deb Wunder with a liver transplant in 2013.
“It’s very important celebrating that my mom’s still with us here today and getting to walk and raise awareness and show support for the association,” said Lazerte.
“We had a lot of ups and downs but it’s all worth it when she’s here today.”
Lazerte was supported in the walk by her three sisters, her husband, her five-month baby daughter and her mom.
Wunder called her daughter Breanne a selfless hero for being a donor.
“It’s just given me a second chance at life,” she said.
Wunder explained she had been struggling with poor health for about eight months while waiting for suitable donor.
“When my girls came and said that Breanne was a perfect match it was just like a miracle,” she said.
Their family message is for everyone to sign their donor cards.
“It’s probably the most important thing you can do in your life,” said Wunder.
Alberta CTA director Shauna Rivait from Calgary said national Transplant Trots, usually held outdoors in the spring, are their biggest donor awareness events of the year.
The Lloydminster trot was the first indoor event now in its 12th year nationally to promote the cause.
“There is a tremendous need and quite often a lot of Albertans don’t know enough about organ and tissue donation and don’t talk about,” said Rivait.
She said we need to talk about it and take the “scariness” out of it.
Her dad had a double lung transplant in 1999 and her younger sister had a lung transplant in 2012.
“Both have since passed away and I continue to raise organ donation awareness in their honor for all the people that are on the wait list,” said Rivait.
In Saskatchewan, the need for organ and tissues is not being met said Lloydminster MLA Colleen Young during the opening ceremonies.
She told the crowd there are about 105 people in the province who are waiting for a kidney transplant.
About 80 people in Saskatchewan are waiting for sight restoring cornea transplants.
“Add to that there are many others who require life saving liver, heart and lung transplants,” said Young.
Councillor Larry Sauer revealed he received a cornea transplant in 2006 and told the audience his wife Leanne donated a kidney to her sister Elaine Pelletier in 2001.
“Over the years, we’ve seen some amazing advances in organ and tissue replacement,” said Sauer.
“Events like this make such advances possible.”
Counc. Jason Whiting speaking for Vemilion-Lloydminster Alberta MLA Richard Starke said. “There is one over riding message that stands out above all others –- organ donations save lives.”
Few know that better than Calgary’s Gerry Diehl.
She is former nurse and one of 22 family members who showed up to support her Lloydminster cousin Greg Hnatuk, a recipient of a cadaver kidney four years ago.
“I hope everybody signs their driver’s licences to state they will be organ donors,” she said with her husband David at her side.
“I worked in the medical field, and I actually did some transplant surgeries so I know how important it is not just for the organs, but also the eyes and other parts of the body that we are now transplanting.”
She went on to say she’s had quite a few friends get transplants and has seen how much improved their lifestyle is because of it.
Lloydminster’s Carl Harris 62 has been on waiting list for a deceased kidney donors in Saskatoon for two years and he may have to wait two more years.
Currently, he is on dialysis three days a week that he says can cause all of your muscles to cramp up.
“It’s the most excruciating pain that you’ve ever had in your life,” he said.
Harris was one of about two dozen family members who helped organize the trot as the event host family.
“It’s quite amazing. All these people stepped forward. I am very surprised and very happy,” he said.
“That’s what the whole deal is today to promote people to sign their donor cards.”
The CTA website provides provides a link how to register as an organ or tissue donor for each province in Canada.
“To me it doesn’t make sense to get into a car crash and your whole body just gets buried in the earth,” said Harris who on a list to donate his skin and corneas

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