David Foster Foundation Spring 2021 Newsletter

Page 1


the Gift of Life

Liver t

Liorah's Transplant Journey


Message from the Chairman


Message from the CEO


Message from the SVP, Fund Development


Message from the Director of Family Relations


Liorah's Transplant Journey Continued


April is National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Month


Green Shirt Day


Marit and Tanner's Story


New Community Partner: Gib-San Pools


Partner Spotlight: National Post


Thank You to All Our Partners


Donate Life Canada



nt recipie nt, Liorah.

Liorah’s Transplant Journey


212 HENRY ST., VICTORIA, BC V9A 3H9 OFFICE: 250.475.1223 FAX: 250.475.1193 TOLL FREE: 1.877.777.7675

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Darline and David were overjoyed with the birth Liorah of their second child, Liorah, in November of 2018. TRANSPLANT: Their first child, Holly, had jaundice after she was LIVER born in 2016, so when Liorah started to develop TRANSPLANT DATE: NOVEMBER 27, 2019 it, they were not too worried, but took her to HOME: MONTREAL, QC the doctor anyway. The doctor ordered a blood test which came back abnormal. Liorah was transferred to CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal, where she was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare disease that affects the liver and can be fatal. On the day that Liorah was diagnosed, the medical team performed a Kasai surgery on her, which is a procedure with a one in three chance of improving the liver malformation caused by biliary atresia. The surgery failed, and five months later, Liorah was listed for a liver transplant. Darline was not able to work as Liorah needed her care and the family was struggling to cover their expenses with only David’s salary. Their social worker told them about the David Foster Foundation, which supported the family with expenses such as rent, food, parking, gas, car payments, car insurance, and daycare. “The David Foster Foundation helped us a lot financially, which allowed us to breathe a little and take away some of our stress. The Foundation and our social worker were like angels sent to help ease our suffering,” writes Darline.

The David Foster Foundation helped us a lot financially, which allowed us to breathe a little and take away some of our stress. CONTINUES ON PAGE 4

Forever Grateful Message from the Chairman I want to pay a special tribute and honour the wonderful people who put the public's health and the Foundation's transplant children's health before their own.


arch marks one year of the COVID-19 pandemic that shook all our lives. I am incredibly grateful for all the front-line workers who endured a full year of the unknown: your resilience, commitment, and dedication to deliver the highest level of care to their communities is admirable. I want to pay a special tribute and honour the wonderful people who put the public's health and the Foundation's transplant children's health before their own. Truly, amazing! If you haven't recently reached out to someone you know who has been working in an essential service this year, I encourage you to do it. They need all the encouragement they can get. It has been a long haul for them! I am also forever grateful to our partners that continue to support the Foundation and the children we assist. We recently welcomed Gib-San Pools and Landscape Creations to our Community Partners. I could not be more thrilled to have another dedicated partner join us as we work together to create more tomorrows for transplant families in need.


David Foster Founder and Chairman


Spring 2021

Springing into a New Time of Year


always love when spring comes along. It is such a feeling of new beginnings with the flowers blooming and new colours popping. The weather is warmer and being able to go outside without being bundled up in an oversized winter jacket is refreshing. The best part of this time of year is the days staying lighter longer, making way to outdoor BBQing and fellowship with friends and family. With this fresh new look of the natural beauty that is coming alive around us, it makes me feel so grateful that I am in good health and can be outside to enjoy it. However, this isn't always the case. This is why the Foundation is so passionate about making sure we are there for our transplant families every step of the way to help them through some of the most stressful times of their lives. I can't imagine the stress a parent must feel when their child is fighting for their life. In many cases, families fight for their livelihood as their expenses accumulate with a reduced income due to their sick child's care. Seeing everything our transplant families go through certainly puts things into perspective. Their strength and dedication leave me in awe every day. During these challenging times, I encourage everyone to try and focus on keeping a positive outlook, much like our transplant families. As we move through this year, I encourage you to fill your day with things that bring

you happiness. Go for a walk, attend an online seminar, read books, try cooking a new meal and make sure to eat well, limit the amount of news you watch and connect with your family and friends. We all might be getting a bit tired of video calls, so as an alternative, send a handwritten card of encouragement to your loved ones. With everything that is happening this year, we are not anticipating any in-person fundraising events, however, we are staying optimistic. We are finding different moments and milestones to celebrate. April is an important month for the David Foster Foundation, as we celebrate National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Month. Over the month, we will be sharing important information and hope to inspire those around us to register as organ donors. Are you an organ and tissue donor? Did you know you have the ability to save up to eight people's lives and improve the quality of life for up to 75 people? Please consider becoming a registered donor today. The choice that we make today may save someone's life one day. Learn more about organ donation and how you can register on page 6.

With sincere appreciation,

Michael Ravenhill Chief Executive Officer

Did you know you have the ability to save up to eight people's lives and improve the quality of life for up to 75 people? Please consider becoming a registered donor today.

Follow the "Math"—the "Math" Speaks!


anadian Blood Services reported that there was a 39% decrease in organ donor registration in 2020. Why are the decreasing percentages relevant? A 39% decrease in organ donor registration will significantly increase the organ donor waitlist. A long waitlist means there will be a decrease in available organs for hopeful transplant recipients. This will also lead to longer wait times, and unfortunately, a much greater chance of those waiting to potentially never receive their life-saving organ transplant. How does the "Math” directly affect the David Foster Foundation? As you know, the David Foster Foundation supports Canadian families who have a child going through the

life-saving pediatric organ transplant process and requires financial support. The greater the waitlist combined with all the implications, will increase the financial support necessary for the families supported by the David Foster Foundation. You can change the “Math” or, at a minimum, help mitigate the adverse effects of the dramatic decrease of organ donor registrations during COVID-19. 1. Register as an organ donor and share your wishes with your family. It only takes two minutes! Visit davidfosterfoundation.com for more information. 2. Donate to the David Foster Foundation. Every dollar counts and is valued and important in creating more tomorrows for transplant families across Canada.

Help Change the Statistics


t the end of 2019, 4,352 Canadians were waiting to receive an organ transplant, and 249 people passed away while waiting. These are statistics that the transplant families the Foundation assists are familiar with. They know that their child could wait months, and possibly years, to receive the transplant they so desperately need. In 2020, the Foundation assisted many families while their children were waiting for organ transplants. Some of these families waited months, and some had been waiting years. Samual, who is just over a year old, was listed for a heart transplant in April 2020. His family is one of the many families that the Foundation supported in 2020 while their child waited, and they continue to wait today. They are currently over 500 kms from their home as Samual needs to be admitted to the hospital on a Berlin Heart, which acts as a bridge to transplant.

Like Samual’s family, many other families the Foundation assists spend extended amounts of time away from home so their child can receive the medical care that they need. This is hard on them both emotionally and financially. With April being National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Month, please consider registering as an organ donor and inform your family of your choice if you have not already. I want to thank all the registered and newly registered organ donors for helping change these statistics and potentially helping to reduce transplant wait times for families like Samual's.


Aleea Dahinden Director of Family Relations

How to make a donation to the Foundation: 1. Mail your cheques to David Foster Foundation, 212 Henry Street, Victoria BC V9A 3H9 2. Credit card—call our Victoria office using our toll free number @ 1-877-777-7675 3. Online at davidfosterfoundation.com


John Danson SVP, Fund Development

Samual has been waiting for a heart transplant since April 2020. He currently is on a Berlin Heart, which can be seen in the photo and acts as a bridge to transplant.



I’ll never be able to explain the feeling I had every time her heart stopped. The blood was no longer running in my veins. I couldn’t move or speak, but I was praying in my heart every moment to God that I forbid him to take my little girl. —Darline, Liorah’s mom As time progressed, Liorah’s illness continued to worsen. She started to vomit everything she ate because her liver was so damaged. This caused her to have severe malnutrition, chronic pneumonia, and fragile bones, which meant that her ribs were breaking. David and Darline were heartbroken to witness their daughter, who was less than a year old, suffering so much. Darline wanted to do anything possible to save their daughter, and as the medical team thought Darline might be a more viable potential living donor, she went through the assessment process and was approved. Mother and daughter were scheduled for transplant on September 21st, 2019. Leading up to the transplant, Liorah was very sick with pneumonia and in and out of the hospital as the medical team worked to improve her condition. They were unable to create any improvements in Liorah’s health and decided to cancel the transplant. The lengthy surgery would be too risky to perform given her precarious health situation. She continued to get sicker despite efforts to help her and was put into intensive care. Liorah's heart stopped seventeen times in the span of two weeks and the doctors and nurses had to resuscitate her several times. Remembering this time, Darline says that “almost every time, I was next to her. Doctors and nurses were running in all directions to come and revive her. She had become so fragile that we were afraid to move her in bed or even to change sides. I’ll never be able to explain the feeling I had every time her heart stopped. The blood was no longer running in my veins. I couldn’t move or speak, but I was praying in my heart every moment to God that I forbid him to take my little girl.” Darline and David sat bedside with their daughter through it all and watched as her health declined and she began to throw up blood. Darline remembers it as “an intense experience to watch our child die every time and come back to life. I cried a lot because we felt so helpless. It was a lot of stress, sleepless nights, and physical and emotional fatigue. Mentally we were in a vacuum with so many unanswered questions. However, we kept the faith and prayed for God to give us the strength to endure and continue for our daughters.”



Spring 2021

Liorah with mother, Darline, after her first surgery in December 2018.

By the end of November, the situation was dire. Liorah was still very ill. The medical team told Darline and David that the chances of Liorah surviving a minimum 8-hour surgery were very low and asked if Darline still wanted to be the living donor. Darline remembers telling them, “if there’s a 1% chance that she can be saved, I want to take the risk of doing it no matter what happens after that. When I think about those times, tears keep streaming down my face. At the hospital, I consoled another parent who had lost their child, knowing that I too could be in their place at any time.” On November 27th, 2019 both Darline and Liorah went into surgery simultaneously at two different hospitals. Darline says that “it was the hardest and longest day for my husband, the two dearest beings in his life were going into operating rooms and he didn’t know what was going to happen.” Liorah was in surgery for 13 hours, “Her little heart never stopped. She came out victorious. The operation was a success thanks to God and the dedication of the nurses and doctors at the Sainte-Justine Hospital,” said Darline and David, remembering it.


The David Foster Foundation and our social worker were like angels sent to help ease our suffering. Both Darline and Liorah began the long road of recovery. Darline remembers experiencing “a lot of pain and anxiety because I couldn’t take both my daughters in my arms. I was trying to sleep, but I couldn’t for many weeks because Liorah was still at the hospital recovering.” It was Liorah’s 1st birthday two days after her transplant, and the nurses decorated her room and sang her “Happy Birthday” even though she was unconscious. Both Liorah and Darline recovered, and Liorah returned home in January 2020 for the first time after months spent as an inpatient at the hospital. It has not been an easy road, and Liorah has had some operations since transplant as her poor health affected other organs. Darline’s recovery was also lengthy, “my recovery was difficult at first but over time I sometimes forget I have a scar on my stomach. Every time I look at that scar and look at my daughter, I feel proud and grateful to the creator of the universe for having created me with this part of my body that can be regenerated.”

Parents, Darline and David, with Lionah before her transplant in November 2019.

Liorah started daycare in September and has been more stable, “She is growing up quickly and the staff at the daycare tell us how intelligent she is for a child her age. She talks a lot in English for now, but she understands Creole, French and Spanish just like her big sister. She also likes to dance, and as soon as we play music, she runs from her room to come and dance.” Although this family’s transplant journey was difficult, they are grateful, “we are all ignorant until someone you know goes through some rather strange situations. This is when the examination of life begins; it is up to us to know how we are going to react to these difficulties and to whom to turn when no one else understands.” David, Liorah, Holly and Darline cherishing family moments.

Liver transplant recipient, Lionah, celebrating her 2nd birthday.


APRIL is National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Month

Time to #GETVOCAL about organ and tissue donation

THE FACTS Canada has

90% of Canadians support organ & tissue donation, but only 32% have registered.

one of the worst organ donor registration rates in the world.

One organ donor can save up to eight lives.

David Foster and his friends are talking about organ donation this April. Be sure to follow The David Foster Foundation on social media for more updates. Learn more about organ donation and how you can register at davidfosterfoundation.com.

Spring 2021

due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

waiting on the transplant waitlist.

—Brynleigh's mom, Melissa Walker


down 39%

One person dies every 30 hours

Brynleigh is 3 years old and has been in the hospital on a Berlin Heart awaiting transplant for nine months. Brynleigh has three sisters that, unfortunately due to the pandemic, she has not been able to see. Brynleigh is very energetic and loves to hop, hide, play, sing, and paint, but most of all she loves to make everybody laugh. She is very kind and loving and always has a smile on her face.

You are

In 2020, registration was

six times more likely to need a transplant than to become an organ donor.

One organ donor can improve the quality of life for up to 75 people.

Humboldt Broncos defenceman, Logan Boulet, saved six lives as a registered organ donor.


n April 6, 2018, Canadians were heartbroken to hear about the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Of the 29 passengers, sixteen lost their lives, and thirteen will all bear physical and emotional scars for life. On April 7, 2018, Humboldt Broncos defenceman, Logan Boulet, succumbed to his injuries. His parents, Bernadine and Toby Boulet, offered to donate his organs so that six lives could live on. They did so because Logan told his parents he was registering as an organ donor and that his coach and mentor Ric Suggitt inspired him. Ric passed on June 27, 2017 and was also an organ donor and saved six lives. Logan’s gift of life and his family’s selflessness inspired nearly 150,000 Canadians to register their wishes to be an organ donor, this movement is recognized as the Logan Boulet Effect. Every year on April 7th, Green Shirt Day is celebrated. Canadians across the country will be wearing their green shirts proudly to honour the Logan Boulet Effect and raise awareness for organ donation and registration. How you can get involved and inspire others: • Proudly wear green. • Register to become an organ donor. • Talk to your family.

Learn more about Green Shirt Day at greenshirtday.ca.

The David Foster Foundation team proudly wearing their Green Shirts to honour Logan Boulet and encourage organ donation.


Marit and Tanner's Story

Organ donation continues to be a difficult decision for Canadians, where 90% of the population support it, yet only 32% register as donors.

Written by Emma Jones, Special to National Post


hen Marit McKenzie was in Grade 12, she watched as her best friend struggled with complications from a childhood liver transplant. It prompted the artsy, empathetic Alberta teenager to become an advocate. Marit made her senior school project about the importance of organ donation. Then she went a step further, selling pieces of her artwork at the Otafest anime convention in Calgary, raising $500 for the David Foster Foundation, which works to financially support families of children undergoing an organ transplant. Marit also asked her mother to co-sign her organ donor card. For her parents, it was all typical of their daughter. “She just always was aware of what was going on around her and engaged with the world and thoughtful about other people,” says her father, Bruce. “She was just one of those people that helped everybody.” Her parents had no idea the impact their daughter’s selfless gesture would soon make on the lives of another family on the other side of the country, and several other families as well, helping the McKenzies find meaning at perhaps the lowest moment of their lives. In 2013, in her freshman year at the University of Calgary, Marit died suddenly. An acne medication is thought to have caused clots to restrict the


Spring 2021

flow of blood through her lungs, and resulted in a massive pulmonary embolism that led to four cardiac arrests. When Marit passed, her heart was donated to Tanner Fitzpatrick, a 12-year-old hockey player from Newfoundland. Tanner had been receiving treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy, an illness that causes the heart to become enlarged so that it cannot effectively pump blood to the rest of the body. Less than a year after Tanner became ill, doctors determined he would need a new heart. Expecting the process to take some time, the Fitzpatricks headed to Toronto, where Tanner could be close to SickKids Hospital should a heart become available. It took just days before the family received the call they were waiting for: there was a heart for Tanner. “I would call it the purest shock I ever felt,” says Tanner, who now works as an electrician in Newfoundland. “It was something I’ve never felt again. It was a lot to process.” Organ donation continues to be a difficult decision for Canadians, where 90 per cent of the population support organ donation, yet only 32 per cent register as donors, reports Canadian Blood Services. The low number of donors can translate into deadly consequences for the more than 4,500 people waiting for an organ donation—

Tanner’s surgery was a resounding success, and he was well enough to be discharged from SickKids Hospital to the nearby Ronald McDonald House after only a few days. He returned home to Newfoundland four months later.

Marit's father, Bruce, listening to Tanner's heart beat in 2016 when they met for the first time.

260 of whom will die each year, according to The Organ Project, a not-for-profit founded by Eugene Melnyk, the owner and chairman of the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club. That’s about five deaths each week, or one death every 30 hours. The organ most in demand is the kidney, reports the charity, with 76 per cent of Canadians on the waiting list in need of a kidney transplant. The liver is the next at 10 per cent, with lungs at six per cent. Another four per cent of those on the donation list are hoping to get a new heart. The average waitlisted kidney patient will wait four years for their new organ. A donor, then, can have a sizeable impact. Marit’s heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys were successfully transplanted in four separate surgeries, according to the David Foster Foundation. Her donated corneas gave two more patients sight, while bone tissue and tendons were preserved for future reconstructive surgeries. “One (organ donor) can save eight lives, or improve the life of 75 people,” says Michael Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation. “That life legacy that they would leave, that anyone would leave, would be incredible.” Bruce McKenzie was not aware that Marit had decided to become an organ donor until the physicians asked if the parents would consider the transplants. “He was a very brave man,” says Bruce of the physician who spoke to them that day. “He said, ‘Would you consider organ donation?’ We’re sitting there, we’re just in shock. And Susan said, ‘Yes, this is what Marit wanted, she already had me sign in her donor card when she was 17.’ What I understand is then the next day, the heart flew from Calgary to Toronto.” The work of researchers, doctors and volunteers, as well as the selfless acts of living and deceased donors, is making a difference. In 2019, more than 3,000 transplants were performed from 1,434 donors, an increase from approximately 2,500 transplants from 1,212 donors in 2015, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The waiting list also appears to be shrinking, down to 4,527 in 2019 from 4,712 in 2015.

The identity of organ donors and recipients is kept private in Canada, so the Fitzpatricks wrote an anonymous letter to Marit’s parents, and about a year later, they received a letter back from the McKenzies, which alluded to a charity hockey match. Tanner, by then much healthier and enduringly grateful, was compelled to do some internet sleuthing. He found the Marit Cup, an annual hockey tournament held by Marit’s high school that raises money for the David Foster Foundation, as well as for a fine arts scholarship in Marit’s name. Tanner, who had been in hockey since peewee, told his parents he wanted to play. “I had to think about it,” Tanner says about meeting Marit’s parents. “But when it came around, I was hoping that they would appreciate seeing… what their daughter had done for me.” A few years later, Tanner and his family attended the Marit Cup in Calgary. Tanner played goal. “He played really good,” says Bruce. “It was a wonderful day.” Watching the boy who received Marit’s heart on the ice was “stunning,” he says. The McKenzies have also connected with two other people whose lives were saved by Marit’s decision to become an organ donor. “If anybody can take anything from my story,” says Tanner “(it is that) they could make one of these stories possible.”

Marit's parents, Susan & Bruce McKenzie, with heart-transplant recipient, Tanner Fitzpatrick, holding a picture of Marit at the annual Marit Cup hockey tournament in Calgary, Alberta.

The David Foster Foundation


The Foundation Welcomes Gib-San Pools as a Community Partner


he David Foster Foundation is thrilled to introduce Gib-San Pools as the newest 2021 Community Partner. Gib-San Pool and Landscape Creations, located in Toronto, is a third-generation industry-leading pool company that has perfected the art of building swimming pools. Their team has been committed to creativity, quality, and customer satisfaction for over fifty years. Gib-San Pool's mission is to deliver families pool and landscape creations that reflect their dream and vision. Their 150 employees work hard to provide homes with backyard resorts that all the generations to come will enjoy.

We are thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful foundation with shared values. —Ed Gibbs

Gib-San is certified in four levels of ISO (Quality, Health and Safety, Environmental and Cyber Security). They are honoured to be selected by Pool and Spa News Magazine as a Top 50 Builder and Top 50 Servicer in their annual North American recognition and be the only Canadian company to make these lists! Gib-San Pool masterpieces can be found throughout Ontario, nationally, and internationally in locations such as France, St. Martaan, St. Kitts, and Abu Dhabi. Gib-San Pools has a great deal of passion for what they do and their clients are the purpose of their dedicated work — bringing joy, health, wellness, and memories to family life. At Gib-San Pool's most recent management retreat (social distanced, of course), they rolled out their continued commitment to the Foundation and the value statement that it has — keeping families together through health and

wellness. Touched by the heroic contributions that the Foundation has done since its inception, Gib-San Pools and the Foundation are a wonderful fit. One of Gib-San's core values is "family" and anything surrounding the family to support health and wellness. A value statement they live by. Gib-San Pool's believes in supporting their community and is involved in many philanthropic efforts. After Ed Gibbs, CEO, and Peter Friis, COO, had the opportunity to support and attend a few Foundation events in the previous years, they felt a magnetic force of positivity pulling the company towards further participation and contribution towards such an incredible Foundation. Gib-San Pools' alignment with the David Foster Foundation is entrenched in shared values that bring out the best in all of us. Health and wellness are our common thread.

To learn more about Gib-San Pools, please visit www.gibsanpools.com. Instagram: @gibsan_pools.


Spring 2021

Partner Spotlight: THANK YOU TO ALL OUR PARTNERS Life Legacy Members Jim & Sandi Treliving

At the National Post, we feel it is the heart of every media outlet to do anything they can to save a life, especially the life of a child. We are proud to partner with the David Foster Foundation in the great work they are doing.

Newton Glassman Charitable Foundation in Partnership with Catalyst Capital Group

—Paul Godfrey, Executive Chairman, National Post


ver the past year, the David Foster Foundation has been working closely with media powerhouse and Post Media’s flagship paper, the National Post. Together, the Foundation and the National Post have been amplifying Canadian transplant stories and working on campaigns that educate and increase public awareness about the importance of becoming a registered organ donor. In February 2020, the National Post published a front-page heart-warming transplant family and recipient meeting held in Toronto, Ontario. The Heartto-Heart story captured the nation's attention thanks to the effort and exposure provided by the National Post. This special moment of two families meeting for the first time after connecting through organ donation was inspiring and hopeful to many. February of this year, which is also Heart Month, the National Post shared another touching organ donor and recipient family meeting. A young girl from Alberta was taken far too soon and through the generosity of the McKenzie family, her heart was donated to a teenage boy from Newfoundland. A Change of Heart honoured both families and this special union they have.

Throughout the partnership, the National Post has celebrated and supported the Foundation's transplant children and supporters. Through printed ads, online billboards, and human-interest articles, the National Post’s support has made a difference in creating more awareness and exposing millions of Canadians to the Foundation’s initiatives.

Walter & Maria Schneider Jim Pattison

National Partners

Thanks to the generosity of the National Post, the Foundation is forever grateful for the continued support that truly makes a difference in increasing public awareness about the importance of becoming an organ donor in Canada. Together with the National Post, we are making a difference in the lives of Canadian transplant families.

With their support, the Foundation can reach more Canadians to raise awareness about the support we provide to transplant families and encourage organ donor registration.

Community Partners

—Michael Ravenhill, CEO, David Foster Foundation

Visit davidfosterfoundation.com to read the Heart-to-Heart and A Change of Heart articles. The David Foster Foundation


A liver transplant when she was a toddler has given Valerie more than 25 years of excellent health. It also made possible a college degree, a great job, a loving marriage and now the joys of motherhood.

Coming soon!