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A life saving moment for Grand Falls-Windsor woman

Grand Falls-Windsor resident Renee Osmond, right, recently donated 70 per cent of her liver to her sister Colleen Mason. Osmond is now encouraging others to sign up donors as a means of providing a person in need with a second chance at life.
Grand Falls-Windsor resident Renee Osmond, right, recently donated 70 per cent of her liver to her sister Colleen Mason. Osmond is now encouraging others to sign up donors as a means of providing a person in need with a second chance at life. - Contributed

For Renee Osmond giving up 70 per cent of her liver was a “no brainer.”

Her sister, Colleen Mason, got sick six years ago. A rare autoimmune disease (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis) attacked her liver.

The Grand Falls-Windsor resident said her sister was waiting for a deceased donor to carry out the transplant because she didn’t want to disrupt the life of a living donor.

But as her health deteriorated options were running out. Osmond stepped forward to help.

“It was either donate or watch her die in the hospital bed,” she said.

After a series of testing to make sure they were a match, the surgery took place March 25 at the Toronto General Hospital.

Osmond said the full right lobe of her liver was removed; the left lobe will regenerate itself.

“It will grow back to 95 per cent of its original size in six to 10 weeks,” she said.

It wasn’t without risk . Her sister’s body may also reject the liver.

But it was worth it to offer her sister a second chance at life.

As of April 25, Osmond said she was feeling well and her pain medications had been reduced to Tylenol. Mason, she said, was doing well and was on route home to Newfoundland.

“She’ll be monitored closely, and need bloodwork done a regular basis,” she said. “Depending on the bloodwork they’ll adjust her anti-rejection medications.”

Advocating donation

Having gone through the experience, Osmond is stepping forward to encourage others to become an organ, tissue and blood donor.

By updating one’s MCP card, providing donation consent upon passing, Osmond said a single donor can save up to eight lives.

“It can help somebody live a much better quality of life,” she said. “There are (hundreds) of people who pass away each year waiting for organ donations that just don’t come. It’s greatly needed.”

While Osmond doesn’t see herself as being a hero, she’s certainly one in her husband’s eyes. Lee was at her side every step of the way.

“Rene has always been selfless like that, she has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It wasn’t a question of if we going to do this, but how are we going to do this.”

After the going through the worry and stress of what felt like a “year-long” surgery, his wife’s gesture inspired him to become a donor.

“I had seen this sort of thing popping up in Central, people waiting for transplants, and I kind of thought about it before loosely, saying I would donate if anything came up,” Lee said. “But it wasn’t since this happened that I updated my MCP to actually sign up.”

In need of donation

There are more than 4,500 people waiting for an organ donation in Canada.

More than 1,600 people are added to the organ transplant list annually.

Approximately 260 people waiting for a transplant will die every year.

Canada averages 20.9 donors per million people.

Seventy-six percent of people on the wait list are in need of a kidney.

The average wait time for a kidney is four years.

One organ donor can save up to eight lives and a tissue donor can benefit up to 75 individuals.

SOURCE: The Organ Project

Editor’s note
The Motor Registration Division no longer record a driver’s organ donation intent during licensing. This information is now documented by health-care system. Donors can sign up or renew through MCP.

This article was edited to remove unfactual information

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