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Healthy, active transplant recipient celebrates life – Fundraiser: Tom Awad is on his fourth Gift of Life Relay Walk from London to Windsor – the London Free Press; written by John Miner
Eight years ago Tom Awad was running out of time. With a failed liver and his kidneys in trouble, Awad’s only hope was an organ transplant.
“I was deathly ill,” Awad said Wednesday as he prepared to set off on his fourth Gift of Life Relay Walk from London to Windsor to pay tribute to organ donors and raise money for University Hospital and Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Windsor.
Without organ donors and their families, Awad said he would be dead.
“It is a lot more fun being six feet above the ground then below it,” he said. In his case, Awad said he believes he knows who made the decision that saved his life. “A young mother of two little kids donated her husband’s organs,” he said.
Awad, accompanied by family, friends and other transplant recipients, planned to make the walk from London to Windsor in three days.
Transplant surgeon Bill Wall said he remembered Awad eight years ago when he was a patient at University Hospital. Deeply jaundiced and dying of liver disease, Awad was in hospital for more than a one month waiting for a liver transplant. Seeing him active and healthy on Wednesday was gratifying, Wall said.
The longest surviving liver transplant recipient in Canada, operated on 28 years ago, also received her transplant at University Hospital, Wall said. “You couldn’t pick her out of a crowd for having had a transplant, she is that well. That is what can be accomplished with organ transplantation today,” he said.
Wall credited Awad and others for raising public awareness in the region about the benefits of transplantation. “We are delighted that the organ donation rate in this part of the province is twice the national average and it is twice the provincial average,” Wall said.