How Did I Quit Smoking? I Just Stopped!

By Sean McDermott

I had quit smoking so many times that I decided not to use that word ever again and now when I hear people say that they have “quit”,  I take it lightly and reserve comment.  Quitting is something that you fear, something that you approach slowly and have a plan in place to overcome the odds, the mood swings, the cravings.  I had no such thing.

Let me give you some untypical background.  In July of 2007 I arrived at Toronto Western Hospital in an ambulance dying of Liver Disease from Alcoholism.  I know this because they told me next morning that I had been dying for about two weeks. I wouldn’t have made it through the night if my sister and Mother had not insisted as I lay in my sweat-drenched Queen bed, throwing up repeatedly, that I had to go to hospital.  Even then I kept thinking,  “if I could just rest” but I went as they say, kicking and screaming.  The Chief Physician the very next morning visited my bedside, told me that I was very lucky and that my life was about to change, that is if I wanted to live.  There is always the [...] continue the story

To Answer Honestly, or not…

By Sean McDermott

“How are you”, says my Doctors.

“How are you feeling” say my friends.

“How have you been” say my acquaintances………………….

I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know how to explain or analogise this state. I am still waiting for a liver transplant after four years. Those haven’t been wasted years because I’ve learned a lot about myself and I haven’t changed a lot, but I have a little. The fact is the liver transplant list here in Toronto is comprised of 6-700 individuals like myself with various factors leading to the eventual destruction of enough liver tissue to prevent any possibility of re-generation. The person to receive the next transplant (about 1 every 3 or 4 days) is close to death or heading there quickly and will not live without transplant. Others like me suffer imbalances in our metabolism that causes fluid retention and extreme fatigue.There is a separate structure (Living Donor) for those whose family or friends will donate half a liver in an elaborate but lifesaving surgery without the wait.

The wait.

If I were to find you lined up in a bank or for a bus, and instead of being the usual ten minutes it was now two hours [...] continue the story

Stephanie’s Story

By Stephanie Paseornek

When I was a child, I used to sit in my room and write for hours. In my notebook, I was anywhere and everywhere. Soaring above my eight-year-old body, I found a place for myself – a place amongst words. Writing gave me wings. It made me feel free.

When I was sixteen years old, I unexpectedly went through severe heart failure. After waking up from a month-long induced coma, my UCLA doctors told me that in order to survive, I would need a heart transplant. I was stuck in a room with four blinding white walls, tethered to machines on full life support. In the process of suffering, with death just around the bend, I made the conscious choice to continue. I asked my parents if there was any way I could write. I knew in order to find strength I needed the tools to soar above my sixteen year old body, and I needed words to set me free.

My time spent in the hospital was a time spent between life and death. All of my organs failed and my parents were told to “prepare for the worst” every day for months. During this time, my brain drifted [...] continue the story

Angelo: Transplant

To hope, and not be impatient, is really to believe . . .

This has been the mantra for Angelo and his mother Cynthia for the past 2 years. Their patience paid off in August, 2008 when Angelo received a kidney transplant. Because of the transplant, Angelo is now an active, healthy 3-year-old – walking and learning to talk.

Angelo was 2 months old in December, 2005 when he was diagnosed with kidney failure – “Diffuse Mesangeal Sclerosis”. This diagnosis required him to have dialysis for 14 hours each day. Cynthia, who has an older daughter, Camila, played the role of mother and caregiver. She also volunteered to give Angelo what most mothers do only once – another birthday. She volunteered to donate one of her kidneys to Angelo.

Unfortunately, Cynthia’s kidney was not a good match for Angelo. Neither was his aunt’s, nor a kind stranger’s. Three times the family had a date set for Angelo’s transplant from living donors – and three times the transplant was cancelled, hopes dashed.

But Cynthia and Angelo never gave up. “When you have hope, faith and patience, I believe God will give you what you seek,” Cynthia explains.

In August, 2008, everything changed. Cynthia received the call [...] continue the story

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