Manitoba calls to join organ donation list



After being told she would probably never walk, talk or see each other again, after suffering a blood clot in her heart and seven strokes, Kristin Millar walked down the stairs on Monday.

She looked the gathered reporters in the eye and said she was leading an amazing life, sharing the kindness she had received in the form of a heart transplant.

“The fact that I am here to speak to you – that I can exist – is one of the most remarkable miracles anyone can ever see,” Millar said at the Manitoba Legislative Building, where she appealed to the public to register online (signupforlife.ca) to donate organs and tissues.

The province aims to register 10,000 new organ and tissue donors online in 2022 and will light up the Legislative Building at night with the Sign Up for Life campaign logo on Monday and Tuesday, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said during media event to raise awareness of National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

Since the online campaign began 10 years ago, Manitoba has registered 60,000 organ and tissue donors. Millar said she attended its launch just months after her heart transplant.

“My greatest hopes, my greatest dreams could never have prepared me for the incredible life this heart has given me over the past 10 years,” said Millar, who was 26 when she made a unexpected heart failure.

“I was very sick. I couldn’t keep food down and was crawling up the stairs to my apartment.”

When her heart stopped at St. Boniface Hospital, doctors discovered pooling of blood and a blood clot the size of a tablespoon. Millar suffered seven strokes.

“The neurologist told my family that I probably couldn’t walk or talk or see,” she said. She spent two years on a waiting list for a heart transplant before getting the call that a match was found.

Since the transplant, Millar said she has had no health problems.

She went back to school at 30 for a degree in social work and worked with newcomer students for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now she works with vulnerable young people and their families “to see their own strengths,” while pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

“I wanted to give back some of the empathy and kindness that I had received.”

Besides the freedom and joy of being healthy, Millar said she had received many other gifts – and they were all due to the selflessness and courage of her donor family “at the worst time in their lives”. .

“I love them and take care of them,” said Millar, who has bonded with them over the past two years.

“We have a bond that will never dissipate. I learned from them that organ donation was also a gift for them. It was a powerful tool in their own grief. I care for their mother and daughter alive, while they ‘keep me alive.’

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people who call Manitoba home, Carol joined the office of the Legislative Assembly in early 2020.


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