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Life Transplanted lives: Four organ recipients on what donation means to them

Steven Reilander

Steven Reilander, 27, lives in Sidney, B.C., where he runs an eponymous film production company, founded two years ago. Born with cystic fibrosis, he received a liver transplant in 1997.

“It certainly was life-changing. When you’re on a transplant list you’re critical. There’s no other options at that point. You get another chance at life is what it comes down to. Because I was so young and I was growing up with it, I kind of identified with it a lot. And even though I’ve had a liver transplant I still struggle with the CF as well, so there’s always some aspect in my mind that life is a little bit volatile.”

Sarah-Lyn Copeland

Sarah-Lyn Copeland, who lives in Barrie, Ont., was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just a few weeks old. She had a double lung transplant two weeks before her 18th birthday last October.

“Before, I couldn’t even go up and down the stairs without going into a huge coughing fit. And now I’m going to be doing a 5k run at the end of June. My goal before my transplant was to run with my dog. I was able to do that pretty soon after my transplant. This summer, my friends and I want to go camping. And I’m going to do a lot of swimming.”

Ben Giroux

Ben Giroux is in his second year of studying environmental science at Carleton University. The 20-year-old, who grew up in Ottawa, received a heart transplant at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto in 2006.

“It was basically a nasty flu bug, but instead of attacking the entire body like it normally does, in my case it attacked just the heart. Now I’m fantastic. I couldn’t be healthier. It definitely gave me a greater appreciation for life in general. When I turned 18 I transferred from SickKids to the Ottawa Heart Institute. I actually volunteer there. I work in the gift shop. I thought it would be a good idea to get my volunteer hours for high school and also familiarize myself with where I’d be taken care of.”

Laura Gaudet

Laura Gaudet was diagnosed with cardiac fibroma, a tumour on her heart, when she was just a few days old. She underwent a heart transplant when she was three months old, in 2001. Now 13, she lives with her family in Amherst, N.S.

“I went to the World Transplant Games in Australia when I was nine. I won a bronze medal in the ball throw. I’m on the badminton team at school. I like to draw and cook. I like baking cakes and cookies. This summer I’m probably going to go to a camp called Camp Braveheart. I want to be a counsellor there one day. There’s a big lake there to go swimming or canoeing. And there’s other people there who have heart problems, like me, which is really cool.”

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