When Jamie Haydon received the call from Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) she was getting a new heart, she did not believe it. “My family and I are jokesters, so I thought it was my sister playing a prank,” Haydon says with a laugh. “When I called my mom about the news, she actually hung up on me thinking I was joking.”
When telling her story, Haydon sometimes stops to think about certain significant dates, however without hesitation she recalls February 25, 2016 as the day she “got a new lease on life.”
Initially diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2011, a disease of the heart muscle, Haydon had spent years in and out of the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) and other hospitals. When she was listed for heart transplant in 2015, she was prepared to wait another two years. Four and a half months later she received the good news. “They found a perfect match,” Haydon says.
Currently in Ontario, there are almost 1,600 people waiting for the same telephone call including six residents in the city of North Bay. While organ and tissue donation has increased significantly in Ontario, one person dies waiting for a transplant every three days.
April is “BeADonor” month in Ontario and the TGLN is asking local residents to consider registering to become a lifesaving organ or tissue donor.
Janis Herzog is the Clinical Support Lead with the TGLN and Clinical Nurse Educator in the Critical Care Unit at the NBRHC. “When you check or register your consent for organ and tissue donation, you are letting those waiting know that you would help them if you could,” says Herzog.
In 2020, Ontario had a record breaking year with more donors than ever before, leading to more transplants performed and ultimately more lives saved. At 58 per cent, North Bay has the second highest donor registration rate out of 170 Ontario communities.
“Over the past year, NBRHC had four organ donors which led to 11 transplants performed from organs recovered,” says Herzog.
If you have registered your consent for organ and tissue donation, it is still important that you talk about your decision with your family and friends.
“Loved ones are always asked before donation happens. Knowing your wishes makes your family’s decision a lot easier to support when they are trying to deal with their loss,” said Herzog. “When a potential donor is registered, families have the comfort of knowing they are affirming their loved one’s wishes.”
Haydon has become really close to her donor’s family. “I haven’t met them in person yet, but I talk to them regularly,” says Haydon. “I can wholeheartedly say they are like my own family now.”
Haydon acknowledges there are many reasons why people choose not to donate and she is okay with it. “I just ask people to be open to the idea,” Haydon said. “Go learn about it, read about it and then make your decision.”
For more information, visit www.giftoflife.on.ca
February 25, 2016 was the day Jamie Haydon “got a new lease on life.”