What: Each year, National Organ & Tissue Donor Awareness Week (April 20 – 24, 2015) takes place across Canada, helping to raise awareness of the importance of registering for organ donation. The David Foster Foundation has organized opportunities for media to interview experts and families that are willing to share their stories throughout this week.
Why: The David Foster Foundation financially supports the non-medical expenses for families whose children are undergoing major organ transplants. In addition, the Foundation helps to raise awareness of organ donation and registration throughout Canada.
- April 20 – 24, 2015, with specific dates and times to be confirmed upon request.
- For media interested in interviewing families or spokespeople, please contact:
- Brian Cant: 250-592-3838, 250-888-8729 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Available for interviews:
- Mike Ravenhill, CEO, David Foster Foundation
- Anne Dipchand, Head, Heart Transplant Program at The Hospital for Sick Children, and Board of Director of the David Foster Foundation
Age: 5 yrs
Coen was born with bi-lateral hydro nephrosis and required immediate daily kidney dialysis to keep him alive. Coen remained on daily dialysis for 12 hours a day until he was three years old. When a donor kidney could not be found, a family friend donated one of his kidneys to save Coen’s life. Today, Coen is in preschool, and looking forward to starting kindergarten in September.
The David Foster Foundation was able to assist the family with their mortgage, and utilities, and gas, parking while they traveled back and forth from Victoria to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for Coen’s medical care and transplant.
Cody was born July 29, 1999 with Transposition of the Great Arteries. He had four open-heart surgeries before he was two years old. Cody was fine until March 19, 2013 when he underwent his fifth open-heart surgery. He suffered numerous cardiac arrests, a massive bleed and many strokes. He had to have a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted as his heart would not beat on its own and a tracheostomy to help him breathe as his lungs were damaged. On Oct. 11, 2013, after nine months of being in the ICU and rehab, Cody was stable enough to finally be listed for a heart transplant.
Now, 17 months after being listed Cody remains on a LVAD requiring 24/7 care, and is unable to attend school while he and his family desperately wait for the call to save his life. The David Foster Foundation has been able to support the family meals and transportation while they wait.
Aidyn was diagnosed with enlarged kidneys at 26 weeks in utero. After close monitoring, Aidyn’s mom, Danielle, was induced at 36 weeks. Aidyn was rushed into surgery immediately following his birth. After a month in hospital Aidyn was released from hospital with feeding tubes in place. At four months old, Aidyn was put on peritoneal dialysis for 12 hours every night, and was later upgraded to hemodialysis treatment to remove the toxins and waste his kidneys could not. After approximately 350 days of dialysis, Aidyn was finally placed on the transplant list on Oct. 25, 2012. Aidyn still faced a long battle and he was quickly reaching the end of sustainable hemodialysis.
Through an interaction on Facebook, Danielle and Aidyn were introduced to Shelly Hunt, co-founder of the Because I can Project. Shelly had already begun the process of tests and paperwork and appointments required to be a living kidney donor anonymously, but when she met Aidyn and his family, she knew she wanted to donate to him. He was the same age as her son, so his situation hit close to home. Shelly discovered Aidyn has been on dialysis since he was 6 months old and has needed a kidney transplant essentially his entire life.
Unfortunately, Shelly discovered that she was not a match for Aidyn, so they entered into the, “Living Donor Paired Exchange Program,” a system that allowed Shelly to donate her kidney to someone who was a match, while Aidyn received a new kidney from another individual through the same program.
The David Foster Foundation was able to financially support Aidyn’s family for more than two years so that his mother could be by his side. The Foundation supported the family with meals, transportation, parking, and accommodations at the time of transplant.
Age: 19 months
Logan was diagnosed at three months of age with cardiomyopathy. He had a pacemaker implanted when he was only one day old and was then upgraded to a larger pace maker at three months. Logan was the youngest child in BC to be placed on the Berlin Heart while he waited in BC Children’s hospital for a heart transplant. After being away from home for more than six months, Logan finally received his heart transplant in July 2014. Today Logan is back home with his family and doing great.
While Logan and his mom, Veronica, spent time away from home, the David Foster Foundation was able to support the family with accommodations in Vancouver, travel expenses, meals, and flights for her husband and son to visit on holidays and over long weekends.
Curtis was diagnosed with a hole in his heart at three months of age. After years of invasive surgeries and valve repair and artificial replacements Curtis was out fitted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device. The Kellars came close to losing Curtis many times during his waiting of more than two years on the heart transplant list. In early September 2014, Curtis’ parents received the phone call they never thought they were going to receive in time.
Curtis was taken to Edmonton Stollery Children’s hospital where he received the gift of a healthy heart. Throughout Curtis’ short life, he endured more procedures, needles, surgeries, x-rays, blood work, and tests than most people would encounter in their lifetime. Today, Curtis is at home and continues to get stronger by the day.
The David Foster Foundation was there to help support the family with parking, meals, rent, gas, and other household expenses so that his family could remain by Curtis’s side when they needed him the most.
Ethen was diagnosed in utero with chronic renal disease. After being listed for a kidney transplant, Ethen’s family made the decision for his mom, Katherine, to become Ethen’s living donor. In July 2014 both Katherine and Ethen went into surgery to complete the successful living donor transplant. Today, Ethen continues to attend transplant follow up appointments to monitor to make sure there are no signs of rejection.
The David Foster Foundation was able to assist the family with their household expenses while Ethen and Katherine recovered from the transplant.
Age: 3 ½
Kalyan was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy shortly after his 2nd birthday in the summer of 2014. After months of testing he was listed for a heart transplant in November of 2014 Kalyan has remained in the intensive care unit at CHU Ste. Justine on Montreal. The David Foster Foundation continues to support the family so they can be near their son’s side.
Age: 19 months
Henry was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia at birth and received a liver transplant at the beginning of January 2015 at CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal. Henry remains under close watch at the hospital while he begins his slow recovery post liver transplant with his mom by his side, and dad visiting after work and on weekend. The David Foster Foundation was able to assist with the family with meals, parking, and accommodation close to the hospital.
Age: 21 months
Aurora was born with short bowel syndrome, requiring the removal of most of her small intestines. Aurora’s family, who were originally from Kelowna, BC, were living in South Africa when she was born. Her parents relocated to Toronto in order to be near SickKids Hospital for care. Aurora has been listed for more than one year awaiting small intestine, liver and partial pancreas transplant.
The David Foster Foundation was able to assist the family with accommodation and meals while they continued to wait for Aurora’s transplant.
Phuoc & Binh Wagner
Michael and Johanne Wagner adopted two daughters, Binh and Phuoc, from Vietnam who both required a liver transplant. Both girls were born with Alagille syndrome, a disorder that affects internal organs, particularly the liver. The girls’ adoptive father Michael was a match to be a live donor, but was only able to donate to one daughter. The couple turned to social media to find a living donor for the other daughter and more than 400 people from around the world came forward. Michael underwent surgery to remove a part of his liver to be successfully transplanted in Phuoc who was medically most in need at the time. After a month in hospital Michael and Phuoc were released from hospital to return home to complete their recovery process. Binh remains on medications to help maintain her liver functions until her life saving transplant takes place. The family’s plea for someone to become a living liver donor for their other daughter brought international attention to the issue, and helped to raise important awareness. The community stepped up to help support the family and the David Foster Foundation was able to assist them with their temporary accommodations during the time of transplant for Phuoc and Michael.
Jack was born in 2004 and was diagnosed shortly after birth with a failing liver. He endured several painful surgeries and his first liver transplant before he was one year old. Unfortunately the life-saving operation was only temporary relief, and on the night before Jack’s eighth birthday, his parents were told that he would need a second transplant to survive. Jack was hospitalized 13 times trying to control the steady decline of his liver to buy him enough time to find a suitable donor. On Nov. 24, 2013, Jack received his second liver transplant.
The David Foster Foundation was there to assist the family with travel, accommodations, gas, and meals throughout Jack’s hospitalizations, transplant, and follow up medical appointments after his transplant.
Riley & Emma Doyle
Ages: 14 and 10
Riley was diagnosed with Cystinosis and received a kidney transplant in the fall of 2011 when she was just 11 years old. After a long recovery and many complications Riley’s younger sister Emma was also diagnosed with Cystinosis in 2013, and was listed for a kidney transplant just before her ninth birthday. After more than a year on the transplant list Emma finally received her kidney transplant from a deceased organ donor in November 2014.
The David Foster Foundation has been able to assist the family with meals, accommodations, household, and travel expenses during the length transplant journey. The David Foster Foundation continues to offer support the family through the recovery process, and transplant medical follow up appointments.
Alyssa was diagnosed with leukemia at eight months. Unfortunately chemotherapy induced cardiomyopathy, and Alyssa was listed for heart transplant in March 2013. On May 23, 2013 she was placed in a Berlin Heart Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) heart pump; however she had many complications with the heart pump and was at times was medically unstable.
Alyssa waited five months, and finally on August 20th, 2013 she received a new heart for the kindness of an organ donor.
During the hospitalization, and transplant the David Foster Foundation was able to support the family while they were temporarily relocated in Toronto with accommodations, meals, and their cell phone so they could stay connected. Since Alyssa’s successful heart transplant the David Foster Foundation has been able to help the family with accommodations and travel from New Brunswick for transplant annual follows up appointments At Toronto SickKids hospital. Today Alyssa is doing great and back to being able to enjoy her love of dance. “It was a great sense of relief that I didn’t have to worry about financial things and could concentrate on my daughter when she was sick and dying”. Wanda Maher-Clarke (Alyssa’s mom)
Newfoundland & Labrador
Age: 10 months
Shortly after birth, Shelby developed a condition and was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia at Janeway Hospital in St John’s. Shelby was transferred to SickKids Hospital where she remained in ICU awaiting a liver transplant. Shelby’s parents remained in Toronto by her side while family cared for their two other children back home in Newfoundland. During their time at Sickkids Shelby’s dad was tested to be a live donor to save his daughter life. In early December 2014, Shelby’s father was approved, and underwent the surgery to save his six month old baby girl by donating a portion of his liver. Today Shelby remains at SickKids hospital with her dad by her side while mom cares for the other two children back home in Newfoundland.
After weeks of recovery the David Foster Foundation was able to arrange for mom to fly home to bring out her other two children to Toronto on Christmas Eve so they could be together as a family after months of being apart. The foundation continues to support keeping this family together while Shelby continues to battle her way back to health.
- Since 1986, the David Foster Foundation has provided millions of dollars in direct support to 1,000 families.
- Currently, 85 per cent of Canadians feel that organ donation is beneficial but only 14 per cent are registered as donors.
- In 2012 (the last date from when statistics are available), there were 3,404 patients waiting for organ transplants and only 1,168 patients who received transplants. During that time, 161 patients died while waiting for an organ.
- The Foundation’s financial commitment to families ranges from an average of $10,000 per year.
About the David Foster Foundation
David Foster is a proud Canadian, Recipient of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Order of Canada, 50-time nominee and 16-time Grammy Award winner (including three for Producer of the Year), three time Oscar nominee, Golden Globe winner, seven time Juno Award winner, Emmy award winner and has the distinguished honour to have his star on both the Canadian and Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is the man behind the biggest hits, with more than half a billion records sold.
Foster launched the David Foster Foundation in his hometown of Victoria in 1986. Across Canada, the David Foster Foundation financially supports families for all non-medical expenses while their children are undergoing lifesaving organ transplants. Thanks to its annual fundraising efforts and the generous support of national partners like TELUS, WestJet, Aird & Berlis LLP, Schnitzer, AMJ Campbell Vanlines, Hope Air and Deerfields Clinic families receive support for expenses incurred when travelling away from their homes to be with their child during transplant.
In 2014, the Slaight Family Foundation, Newton Glassman Foundation in partnership with Catalyst Capital Group Inc., Jim & Sandi Treliving, and Tan Sri Dr. Francis Yeoh, joined the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and TELUS as the Foundation’s $1M Life Legacy members.
The Foundation also promotes organ donor awareness and registration in both Canada and the United States. For more information, visit www.davidfosterfoundation.com.