Can you tell us what led to you needing a transplant?
"I was flown by air ambulance in November 1991 to Edmonton when my liver stopped working (as the Vancouver team was unavailable for a few days). I had some liver attacks in 1990, but we were able to turn those around. I've had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 14 and was struggling with various medications to find one that helped me. In November 1991, I went into a coma and awoke to a new liver. Once I was able to travel, I was flown to Vancouver and was followed by that team living in Rossland, BC until I moved to Alberta in my 20s (for work). I fondly remember Dr. Erb, Dr. Yoshita (who I have seen on tv since) and my nurse, Heather Eggen. I'm now followed by a Calgary team with Dr. Burak. I only made it back to Edmonton once, one year after my transplant for a transplantee BBQ, of which I have fond memories of."
How has your quality of life been since receiving your transplant?
"My quality of life has been amazing and I could not be more thankful. I finished high school and a diploma at college. I went back to university in my 30s as my career required a degree (I worked full-time and did evening and weekend classes). Having my life saved has allowed me to have a great career and be active in life."
You've had your transplant for almost 30 years now. Do you still think about your donor?
"My surgery was almost 28 years ago and I'm very humbled by the kindness and generosity of others and the decisions they make to donate a loved one's organs. This is such a precious gift of life and I do my best to share it with everyone in my life and to live my best life. I have had medical ups and downs since then but I am a survivor. It brings tears to my eyes every day when I consider how lucky I am!"
What is your perspective on BC's milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant?
"Seeing a milestone of 50 years is awe-inspiring and amazing. I'm so blessed to have been a part of that journey and am proud to tell the world of my story. My individual journey has been full of ups and downs (not specifically medically related), but I still consider myself a warrior and a survivor. To commemorate my Scottish heritage and my journey, I got a tattoo about a month ago. It is Scottish Gaelic, "Bana-ghaisgeach", meaning female warrior. I am so proud of my journey and the amazing people who have helped me along the way."
Do you have any tips for other transplant patients or people on the waiting list?
"I consider myself very blessed to have survived and have such an amazing story. I always enter medical situations with a smile and a positive attitude as everyone is trying to help me and I'm honoured to talk about it and share my story. A positive attitude and a smile has made a difference for me."