The David Foster Foundation is celebrating 30 years! In light of three decades of assisting Canadian families whose children are going through the organ transplant process, we have decided to share 30 very special stories about families we have helped along the way. Due to a life-saving organ transplant, these incredible children have gone on to live their lives and accomplish extraordinary things. So, our question Where are you now?  If the David Foster Foundation assisted you or someone in your family and you would like to share where you are now, please email mystory@davidfoterfoundation.com


Russell Lepp | heart transplant recipient | 2008

Russell was born on August 5th, 2008, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
 
His mother, Susan, had been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition while she was pregnant with Russell. He was delivered at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg with no issues, however, soon after he was born, Russell was diagnosed with his own congenital heart defect. His condition was different from his mothers and it was difficult to understand how it would impact his life at the time. At 8 weeks old, Russell went into Cardiogenic shock and doctors determined he would need a heart transplant.
 
Russell was flown to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. His parents were committed to being by their son’s side every step of his journey. For months they waited, uprooted from their home, riding an emotional roller coaster day by day. Russell’s sister was only 2 ½ years old at the time and was staying with her grandma in Winnipeg while her parents watched over her baby brother. The David Foster Foundation helped Russell’s family with flights so that they may be reunited for visits and spend Christmas together as a family at the hospital in Edmonton.
 
Russell was listed as the highest priority for a heart transplant, but he also needed a heart that would fit into his small body. Finally, Russell’s family was given their miracle and he had his heart transplant on December 30th. His new heart healed and improved its rhythm and, after 6 long months, they returned to Winnipeg with their baby boy.
 
Today, Russell is 9 years old. This past spring, Russell participated in youth soccer and you would not have been able to pick him out on the field as the kid who had a heart transplant. His parents are immensely grateful for the gift they have been given. Russell will be a son, a brother and a friend, making an impact on the lives that he touches for years to come, because of the generosity of others and the gift of life through organ donation.

 


Owen Buskard | kidney transplant recipient | 2016

Owen was born on June 17th, 2014, in London, Ontario.

Owen was diagnosed with renal failure at birth and doctors informed his family their son would require a kidney transplant in order to survive. The David Foster Foundation was lucky enough to provide Owen’s family financial support during his transplant process. In Owen’s first 2 years of life, he spent 194 nights in the hospital, on top of numerous day visits to the clinic for his assessments and therapy. His parents explain how unbearable it was to spend each day not knowing if it would be their child’s last.

Owen’s parents were forced to make difficult decisions every day. During this time, it brought them comfort to know that the David Foster Foundation had their back. After 20 long months of waiting for a transplant, his father, Travis Buskard was approved to be a living donor for his son and donated one his kidneys to Owen on April 13th, 2016.

Today, Owen only has appointments with his nephrologist once a month. His parents say he is a regular little guy, attending daycare and tormenting his sisters. They are grateful for the time that they have for family activities since Owen’s transplant. Owen will be attending Junior Kindergarten next year and will continue to grow and develop into the energetic little boy he is. His family will cherish their time together this fall thanks to the gift of life through organ donation.


Neala Cormican – liver transplant recipient

Neala was born June 11th, 2006, in Edmonton, Alberta.

At only 6 ½ months of age, she had a liver transplant at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Her father was a living donor for the transplant and was required to take three months off work after having the surgery that saved his little girl’s life. Neala’s mom, Sandra, was on maternity leave to care for her new baby girl, which meant neither of them were earning their regular income. The David Foster Foundation helped with the family’s mortgage payments during this difficult time so that they could focus on supporting each other.

Today, Neala is going into Grade 6. She can bike ride, hike, and join in the same activities as her friends. While Neala does not remember the transplant, she is grateful to be able to spend her time doing things she enjoys, such as crafting and reading. Neala’s liver transplant has allowed her to grow into the creative young girl and chase her dreams of becoming an artist.


Laura Gaudet – heart transplant recipient

Laura was born March 7, 2001, in Upper Nappan, Nova Scotia.

At only 3 ½ months, Laura required a life-saving heart transplant. Her transplant took place at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, ON. Laura has no memories of the transplant, however, growing up with medication and regular hospital check-ups became a part of her life. The David Foster Foundation has helped with her family’s annual trips to SickKids since she received the transplant in 2001.

Today, Laura is a 16-year-old embracing and enjoying high-school. In 2009, Laura went to Disneyland with the Children’s Wish Foundation and to the World Transplant games in Australia where she competed with other transplant recipients. She is grateful that the support the David Foster Foundation has given her family and has made annual check ups to the hospital less scary and more like a chance to spend time together.


Charlie Gendron – liver transplant recipient

Charlie was born on December 13th, 2012, in Alma, Quebec.

At only 3 weeks of age, Charlie showed signs that there was something wrong with the function of her liver. After months of testing and medical care, Charlie was diagnosed with Neonatal Sclerosing Cholangitis, a rare autosomal recessive condition. In December of 2013, Charlie was air ambulanced to the CHU St-Justine Hospital in Montreal, 5 ½ hours away from her hometown, Alma, as her condition rapidly worsened.

Charlie’s family prepared themselves for the reality that it could take up to a year to find a liver match for their tiny daughter. Due to the generosity of another family, Charlie only had to wait one week before she was given a second chance at life. The David Foster Foundation was able to assist the family with their mortgage and utilities back home, allowing them to be by their daughter’s side in Montreal during the fight for her life.

Today, Charlie is four years old. She continues to spend a few weeks each year in the hospital due to her low immune system since the transplant. She can, however, attend daycare, play with her friends and grow and develop into the bright little girl she is. This is all because of the generosity of others and the gift of organ donation.


Phoenix Borrowman – heart transplant recipient

Phoenix was born April 8th, 2009, in Perth, Ontario.

After only 4 ½ months with their precious new born, Phoenix’s parents would learn that their daughter required a heart transplant to live. Phoenix suffered cardiac arrest on three different occasions while waiting for her transplant and her heart was being supported by a Berlin Heart prior to the operation. She received her transplant at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Her parents recall the stress and fear they had for their little girl’s health and the confusion her siblings experienced during this time.

The David Foster Foundation helped cover the costs of relocating to Toronto. They paid for long-term hotels and a short-term condo, ensuring the entire family could remain together and support each other. The Foundation also helped with meals and childcare for Phoenix’s siblings. Phoenix’s parents are grateful the Foundation’s support allowed them to focus on what really mattered, being by their child’s side when she needed them the most.  

Today, Phoenix is a busy little girl in Grade 3. She loves to draw cats and bounce on her trampoline. She received a Gold Medal for swimming at the 2014 Canadian Transplant games. Phoenix is very close with her donor family and has had many vacations with them, their incredible gift provides this little girl with the opportunity to grow and reach her full potential.


Chloe Capan – liver transplant recipient

Chloe was born October 5th, 2003, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Chloe received her first liver transplant when she was 1-year old at the London Health Science Centre. At only 2 ½ years old she was already going through her second liver transplant, this time at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. The David Foster Foundation connected with Chloe’s family during this time and was lucky enough to provide some much-needed support along her journey. While Chloe does not remember the time of her transplants, her childhood memories include many visits to the hospital and countless check-ups.

Chloe is now fourteen-years-old and living life to the fullest. She is grateful for the difficult times she has been through because they have shaped her into the person she is today. Having two life-saving transplants at such a young age has contributed to the strength and bravery she carries herself with. Chloe recognizes that you don’t always know what struggles people are going through and the importance of having empathy for others.

Today, Chloe helps spread awareness about liver disease and organ donation. Her life-saving organ transplants have allowed her to be an athlete, student, friend, and sister. Chloe will undoubtedly touch many lives and this would not be possible if it wasn’t for the gift of life through organ donation.


Curtis Kellar – heart transplant recipient

Curtis was born April 9th, 2009, in Lethbridge, Alberta, his parents first child.

When Curtis was only 3 months old, he stopped breathing in his mother’s arms. Curtis was rushed to the hospital and it was determined that he had a small hole in his heart. Curtis had many hospital visits and surgeries to repair and strengthen his heart, but ultimately, in the end, his only chance of survival was a heart transplant.

His parents remember the transplant process draining them, watching their son struggle to stay alive for over three years while waiting for his life-saving heart transplant. When Curtis was 6-years old he finally received his heart transplant at the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton. The David Foster Foundation was able to keep him and his parents together while they were displaced from home and provide financial support so that they could focus on each other, without the added stress of money.

Today, Curtis is 8-years-old. He claims he can “swim, fly, and run!” since his transplant. He enjoys swimming, camping, running, and spending time with his friends. The gift of organ donation has allowed this adventurous little boy to grow up exploring and brightening the days of those around him.


Grant Logan – liver transplant recipient

Grant was born October 30th, 1993, in Moncton, New Brunswick.
At 6 weeks of age, Grant was diagnosed with liver disease. He had 33 operating room procedures before finally receiving his liver transplant at age 14. His life changing transplant took place at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. The David Foster Foundation was fortunate enough to help Grant’s family with transportation costs and accommodation so that they could be together in Toronto to support Grant through his recovery.

In 2014, Grant and his family helped to organize the Canadian Transplant (CTA) Games held in Moncton. Grant participated as an athlete in the CTA games in Moncton, as well as at the 2016 CTA Games in Toronto, winning medals at both.

Today, Grant is a university student pursuing his business degree. He faces his health challenges with a positive attitude and lives each day with gratitude for the gift of life he was given through organ donation. In January 2018, Grant will be celebrating 10 years with his liver transplant.


Steven Reilander – liver transplant recipient

Steven was born on August 2nd, 1986, in Sidney, British Columbia.
Steven was born with cystic fibrosis, causing cirrhosis of his liver. He was 11-years-old when he had his liver transplant at the London Health Sciences Centre.

As a child, Steven’s focus was sports. Leading up to his transplant he could no longer participate in athletic activities and had become too sick to attend school. On top of battling his health issues, Steven found the loneliness challenging to overcome. The David Foster Foundation provided flights, accommodations, and other financial support to ensure that Steven’s family could be present during his surgery and after. This meant that Steven could have his parents, brother and sister by his side, during a time of isolation from his friends and peers, without the added stress of finances.

Today, Steven is a filmmaker and photographer. Since his transplant, he has graduated university, travelled extensively, been skydiving and hang gliding, and learned to play guitar. When he’s not behind the camera, Steven is also a public speaker, has been a part of starting a successful family business and has helped raise over $100,000 for the David Foster Foundation.

Steven is grateful for those who made his transplant experience possible; the family of his liver transplant donor, his own family and friends, and the David Foster Foundation. He aims to make them proud by living a full life and giving back to others.


Noah Catius – heart transplant recipient

Noah was born November 19th, 2007, in Calgary, Alberta.

When Noah was only 6 months old, he had a heart transplant at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Noah has no memory of his transplant, but one of his parent’s best moments during his recovery was David Foster visiting them at the hospital and playing on a piano with Noah’s feet. The David Foster Foundation providing financial support for Noah’s family while they cared for their sick son, ensuring that they would have a home to return to after his transplant journey. Noah’s family says not having the added pressure of finances allowed them to focus on the important things and they can’t imagine where they would have ended up otherwise.

Noah’s transplant provided incredible results. His skin and lips became a healthy color that had been absent due to the low oxygen in his blood prior to the transplant. Noah was born blind but gained his sight after receiving his transplant. His day-to-day struggles are still real, but his family is so grateful for the life that he has now.

Today, Noah is 10. He has participated in both baseball and soccer in the Special Olympics, he rides horses in therapeutic riding, and he loves playing street hockey with his neighbourhood friends. His parents say he’s the happiest child you could ever meet and they are amazed by the kindness and compassion he has for others.


Sarah-Lyn Copeland – double lung transplant recipient

Sarah-Lyn was born October 19th, 1995, in Barrie, Ontario.

She had a double lung transplant at SickKids Hospital in Toronto when she was 17. Sarah-Lyn was on oxygen 24/7 and home schooled during the 13 months she waited for her transplant. The David Foster Foundation provided support so that Sarah-Lyn’s mom was able to stay at home and provide her daughter with the care that she needed, without the financial stress of not working.

After receiving her lungs, Sarah-Lyn went from not being able to go up the stairs in her own home without difficulty, to being able to run with her dogs- a goal she set for herself while waiting for her transplant. It had always been Sarah-Lyn’s dream to work with animals. Today, she has been able to finish school and is currently in the hiring process for a job with the Ontario SPCA (Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Sarah-Lyn recognizes that the life she has now would not be possible without her lung donor. She is grateful the gift of organ donation has allowed her to pursue her goals and make a positive difference in the lives of others.


Shelby Miller – liver transplant recipient

Shelby Miller was born on October 16th, 1978, in Salmo, BC. She was the 3rd oldest of 4 children in a close-knit family.

When Shelby was 14, she required an emergency liver transplant. After coming to this realization, doctors told Shelby she had 12 hours to live. The transplant would take place a province away at the University of Alberta Hospital. Her siblings were 10, 12 and 16-years old at the time; none of them had ever dealt with severe health issues and news of Shelby’s transplant came out of nowhere. The David Foster Foundation paid for the family’s transportation so that they could be by her side after the transplant. Shelby recognizes that having her family together was the most important thing for all of them. She says knowing they were with her kept her smiling and positive.

The fight wasn’t over for Shelby. At age 28, due to complications with her first transplant, she was told she had three months to live. She sold her car and kayak, wrote a will, and planned her funeral. Going into her third month after the news, she was given another chance. This time her transplant took place at the Vancouver General Hospital. Shelby’s transplant experiences have given her an unbreakable spirit and positive perspective on life.

Today, Shelby has developed a successful career as a jewelry and floral designer; met her athletic goals as a competitive swimmer and athlete at an elite level; mentors others facing transplant operations. She knows she has been given not just one, but two chances at life, and she has made the most of life each time. If it was not for the generosity of others, Shelby would never have been able to marry the love of her life; or been a birth coach for her sister as they welcomed the family’s first baby into the world.

Shelby is passionate about helping others find the sparkle in themselves. She encourages those who face health issues to continue aiming high and looking for ways to reach their goals.


Jamie Cormier – liver transplant recipient

Jamie was born September 26th, 1988, in Victoria, British Columbia.

Soon after Jamie was born, he was diagnosed with liver disease. He was only 10 months old when he had a liver transplant at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. The David Foster Foundation was lucky enough to connect with Jamie’s family and ensure that they could be together during his hospital visits and check-ups in Toronto. Looking back on his transplant journey, Jamie recognizes that while it was a difficult and scary time in his life, his memories are filled with the love and support he received from his mother and sister.

Today, Jamie is 28 years old. He inspires many in his ambition to live a positive life and inform others about the importance of organ donation. Jamie’s optimism and kindness is an integral part of his character. His mother, sister, family, and friends have shared countless memories with him, moments that would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of an organ donor in 1989.

The gift of life has allowed Jamie to experience so many things. He went to Disneyland in 1996; he graduated high school in 2009; he has got to celebrate Christmas each year, his favourite holiday, surrounded by family and friends; and this past October he visited England. These are just some of the blessings Jamie counts in his life, above all, he is grateful for the opportunity to be there for the people he cares about. Jamie aspires to become a counsellor and to continue doing all that he can to help others who are facing health challenges and make the world a better place.


Brock Walters – liver transplant recipient

Brock was born on May 31st, 1994, in Victoria, British Columbia.

Soon after birth, Brock was diagnosed with biliary atresia. By the time he was turning two years old, he had already been through two liver transplants. Brock doesn’t have too many memories of his transplants, but he does remember his activities being restricted in the following years due to the repercussions on his health. He also remembers The David Foster Foundation providing financial and emotional support to his family during the transplant process, making it easier for them to focus on supporting each other.

Today, Brock is a healthy young adult. He looks for positivity in all things and is always willing to help others. Since his transplant, Brock has travelled to places like Hawaii and Japan and has made countless memories with his family and friends. He is grateful to those involved in making organ transplant procedures possible and has a deep appreciation for the chance he has had at life because of organ donation.


Madeline Sam – liver transplant recipient

Madeline was born on December 23, 2005, in Burnaby, British Columbia.

At 2 months old, Madeline was diagnosed with a variant of biliary atresia. She had no working liver ducts and eventually developed portal vein thrombosis, which made her ineligible for a living donor transplant. At 7 months old, she was put on the waitlist for a liver transplant from a deceased donor. Madeline’s family was caring for her at home during this time, but eventually, due to Madeline’s deteriorating health, she had to be transferred to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. The David Foster Foundation was fortunate enough to connect with Madeline’s family and help with living arrangements in Edmonton for Madeline and her mother. The foundation also helped with flights so that Madeline’s father could visit her and her mother in Edmonton while they waited for a donor’s liver to become available.

Madeline’s time was running out. Doctors approached her mother and explained that she had a slim chance of receiving the transplant from a deceased donor in time and suggested they go ahead with a living donor transplant, even though there was only a 40% chance it would be successful. Madeline’s mother agreed to be tested, desperate to save her little girl. Less than 48 hours later, a deceased donor became available and Madeline received her life-saving transplant at 11 months old.

Today, Madeline is 11 years old. She is a self-taught crochet enthusiast and loves crocheting dolls and stuffed animals for her two younger sisters. Madeline enjoys spending her free time reading and is a huge fan of the Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer. This fall she will be enrolled in grade 7 and continuing with ballet and piano lessons. Madeline’s family does not know her donor family, but they will be forever grateful for the gift of life that allowed their vibrant, creative little girl to thrive and grow into the beautiful individual she is today.