In late 2008, Ivaan was very eager to undergo the ELANA By-Pass, a pioneering neurosurgical procedure that would reroute the blood flow through his brain while the surgeons grafted on a by-pass blood vessel to circumvent the damaged artery that was causing his strokes. He was excited about being the first person in Canada to undergo this procedure. In spite of the enormous risk of his not surviving the surgery, he felt that volunteering for this procedure would greatly advance medical knowledge and pave the way for better outcomes for future patients. While we both hoped that a successful outcome would mean an improvement in his own dire condition, we knew the chances were slim. "Plan B" for Ivaan was that he was determined to become an organ and tissue donor should he not survive the surgery, and dying in hospital provided the best chance of achieving that goal.
Ivaan underwent the surgery on December 2nd, 2008, and although the surgery itself was a complete succsss, Ivaan suffered a massive stroke on the operating table, never regained consciousness and died a few days later.
Shortly after his death, I received a letter from the Eye Bank of Canada, telling me about two successful surgeries that had taken place. Ivaan's eyes had been harvested after his death, and both of his corneas were transplanted, one each into the eyes of two people who had previously been blind. Those surgeries were successful, and both recipients were able to see as a result. Ivaan would have been thrilled.
I've been a volunteer with Trillium Gift of Life Network, the organ and tissue donation people, for many years. Recently, they wrote to me to ask if I would agree to be photographed for their 2011 calendar. This calendar honours the medical professionals who make the connection between the families of potential donors and TGLN, thereby facilitating organ and tissue harvesting and transplantation.
So here I am, about to become a Calendar Girl! This must be the midlife crisis I've been waiting for. My only regret is that apparently I'm expected to be fully clothed for the photo shoot. (I guess Photoshop can only do so much!) Ivaan's niece, Anna, has suggested I greet the camera crew draped only in a sheet, with a rose between my teeth. It's very tempting. It would give new meaning to the term, Hot Flash.
Ivaan, I'm sure, will be extremely gratified by this tribute to his Gift of Life. If you see a 2011 TGLN calendar anywhere, please pick it up and have a peek. I'm hoping to be Miss October.
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