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Living Transplant, a new podcast from the Ajmera Transplant Centre and the Centre for Living Organ Donation.


Join hosts Brittany Cole (Bedside Nurse, Ajmera Transplant Centre) and Courtney Mahrt (Communications, Centre for Living Organ Donation) as they explore transplantation through the perspectives of frontline staff, researchers, innovators, and transplant pioneers, as well as organ donation recipients, living organ donors, families and caregivers.


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Latest Episode
 
Episode 20 – Pain Management & Transplant

Courtney and Brittany are joined by Dr. Hance Clarke, Director of Pain Services and Medical Director of the Pain Research Unit at Toronto General Hospital. Dr. Clarke walks our hosts through his journey to pain medicine, the difference between acute pain services and transitional pain services, and the interaction between CBD, THC, and anti-rejection medications. Also in this episode: how to pick out the anesthesiologist in the room, misconceptions about opioids, and Dr. Clarke's favourite non-pharmacological form of pain management.

Release Date: July 12, 2021 | Transcript to come.

The views and opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Toronto General Hospital or the University Health Network.

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Past Episodes
 
Episode 19 – A Heart Away From Home (Part 2)

Release Date: June 28, 2021 | Transcript to come.

In the second and final part of A Heart Away From Home, guest Heather Lannon explains how she landed on her PhD research question: how is home connected to the transplant journey? After promising Jamie she would do her PhD, Heather talks about what it was like to jump into her research just two months after his passing (she blames "widow brain"), the pros and cons of combining the personal and the academic, and how she became a participant in her own research study. Part two of this interview delves deeper into the caregiver experience and examines the hardships and resilience of patients who need to relocate for transplant. Don’t listen to this episode without listening to part one!



 
Episode 18 – A Heart Away From Home (Part 1)

Release Date: June 14, 2021 | Transcript to come.

We’re back to hearts this week with Heather Lannon, Outreach Coordinator for the Centre for Living Organ Donation, PhD candidate and caregiver. Heather recounts her transplant experience which began when her and her husband Jamie relocated from St. John’s Newfoundland to Toronto in the hopes of receiving a new heart for Jamie. With an unbeatable sense of humour, Heather offers an in depth look at the caregiver experience. From honeymooning in Toronto General to welcoming an LVAD into the family, Heather’s story is a unique reminder of human resilience.



Explore a career in transplantation 
Episode 17 – In Conversation with Transplant Leaders (LIVE)

Release Date: May 31, 2021 | Transcript to come.

In this special episode of Living Transplant, Courtney and Brittany host Explore a Career in Transplantation, part two of the Ajmera Transplant Centre’s Virtual Open House (May 19, 2021). Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, UHN’s Physician-in-Chief, Dr. Blayne Sayed, Liver Transplant Surgeon, Dr. Cynthia Tsien, Transplant Hepatologist and Education Director, and Joanne Zee, Senior Clinical Director of the Ajmera Transplant Centre, answer audience questions including what led them to the field of transplant, what keeps them motivated, and the most rewarding and memorable moments in their careers so far.





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Episode 16 – Heart to Heart

Release Date: May 10, 2021 | Transcript to come.

In Living Transplant’s first heart-focused episode, Courtney and Brittany sit down with heart function (not “failure”!) fellow, Mali Worme, and heart transplant recipient, Vino Ramachandran. Diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy 10 years ago, Vino walks us through what it was like to go from a “fairly normal life” to watching his health “fall off a cliff.” As Vino recalls some of the more challenging moments of his journey, including his wife being 8 months pregnant with their first child at the time of transplant, Mali provides insight into the technical aspects of Vino’s journey, what she learned, and why she loves her work. Also in this episode: common misconceptions about heart failure and transplant, celebrating milestones in the CVICU, and pre-surgery ginger ale cravings.



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Episode 15 – The Fight to End PKD

Release Date: April 26, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Jeff Robertson, founder of the PKD Foundation of Canada, joins Courtney and Brittany to talk all things polycystic kidney disease (PKD). Raised by a mother with PKD and a father juggling the roles of husband, caregiver and parent, Jeff learned firsthand what it means to live with chronic disease, as well as the life-altering power of transplant. With frank authenticity, Jeff talks about the ebbs and flows of fear that come with a hereditary disease in the family, why he started the PKD Foundation, mental health, and the importance of sharing your story. Also in this episode: PKD myth busting, what the resilience of chronic disease patients teaches us about coping during the pandemic, and the significance of the game Operation.

This episode was recorded in March 2021.



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Episode 14 – Sex, Drugs, & Anti-Rejection: the Complex World of Transplant Pharmacy

Release Date: April 12, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Transplant pharmacist, Dipika Munyal guides Courtney and Brittany through the complex world of antirejection and immunosuppression. From libido to infection to how drugs interact with grapefruit, Dipika explains the reasoning behind medications for transplant recipients, common side effects, and why it’s not all bad. Also in this episode: the golden rule of anti-rejection meds, taxes and drug coverage, and the future of transplant medicine.



The Boulets 
Episode 13 – Let the Sunshine In: the legacy of Logan Boulet

Release Date: March 22, 2021 | Download the transcript 

In this episode, Courtney and Brittany are joined by Toby and Bernadine "Bernie" Boulet, the parents of Logan Boulet. In 2018 Logan became an organ donor after he was injured in the tragic Humboldt Broncos bus crash. Logan inspired hundreds of thousands of Canadians to register as organ donors, resulting in an unprecedented increase in donor registration, a movement that came to be known as the Logan Boulet Effect. Toby and Bernie share their story with our hosts, discussing how Logan arrived at the idea of organ donation, saying goodbye at the hospital, and how they keep memories of Logan alive today. Also in this episode: what the Boulets have learned about organ donation and the transplant community since becoming advocates three years ago, how and why you should have the conversation about organ donation, and Green Shirt Day 2021.



  
Episode 12 – "This is it … I actually need a transplant"

Release Date: March 8, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Diagnosed with lupus in her early twenties, Jennen Johnson's road to transplant was a windy one. With humour and authenticity, Jennen dives into the details of her story exploring her denial and eventual acceptance of kidney failure. From explaining transplant to her 12-year-old daughter, to searching for a living kidney donor, to intimacy pre- and post-transplant, Jennen's story is an excellent reminder that everything happens for a reason. Also in this episode: the joy of peeing with your new kidney, Jennen gives a sneak peek at her upcoming project with the Centre for Living Organ Donation, and astrology tangents.



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Episode 11 – The Glass is Half Full

Release Date: February 22, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Courtney and Brittany are joined by kidney transplant recipient and philanthropist, Salah Bachir, his husband, Jacob Yerex, and UHN’s Physician-in-Chief, Dr. Ed Cole. They discuss Salah's seven years on dialysis prior to transplant, the inspiration for the Bachir Yerex Family Dialysis Centre, and what Dr. Cole sees for the future of kidney transplantation and dialysis. Also in this episode, a brainstorming session about the concept of an anonymous donor line, Courtney and Brittany love astrology, and Salah reveals the secret to a nightshift nurse's heart (spoiler alert, it involves a lot of fried chicken).



  
Episode 10 – Good Nerdy Fun

Release Date: February 8, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Courtney and Brittany sit down with living liver donor, Melissa Sidhu to talk research ethics, biliary atresia, and the privilege of good health. With honesty and humour, Melissa talks about her brother’s reluctance to accept her as a donor, her fear of post-donation depression, and the challenges of having a mother who knows too much about surgery. Warning: This episode contains excessive laughter.

"This episode is dedicated to Dr. Gary Levy, whose tireless efforts have saved countless lives, Dr. Les Lily for being my brother's keeper, Dr. Mark Cattral for saving my brother's life, my transplant coordinator Julie Vicencio, who carried me through the entire donor process, and of course, in memory of Dr. Ronald Heslegrave, whose contribution to research and medical ethics will continue to serve humanity forever."



  
Episode 9 – It's Not Magic, It's Medicine

Release Date: January 25, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Courtney and Brittany sit down with the hilarious Trevor Hanagan to discuss his journey to becoming a non-directed living kidney donor and his 16-year career with UHN security. With humour and vulnerability, Trevor discusses working security in hemodialysis, convincing his mother and partner that donating was a good idea, and the 'high' of the non-directed donor process. Also in this episode: the pros and cons of growing up in a family of nurses, bonding during the nightshift, kidney paired donation, and something every man should know when recovering from a kidney transplant.



  
Episode 8 – Signed, Your Donor's Family

Release Date: January 11, 2021 | Download the transcript 

Courtney and Brittany are joined by Michael Ward, Provincial Lead of Donor Family Services, Trillium Gift of Life Network, Thanatology candidate (Association for Death Education and Counselling) and former Funeral Home Director. Michael guides our hosts through the process of letter exchanges between donor families and the recipients of their loved one's organs. In addition to reading a few letters, this episode includes advice on what and when to write, acknowledging grief and survivor's guilt after transplant, and discovering how gratitude can help you move forward. Warning: tissues may be required.

This episode was recorded during Living Donation Week 2020.



Bonus Episode Living Transplant 
Episode 7 – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Release Date: December 21, 2020 | Download the transcript 

In this bonus episode, Living Transplant shares four stories of transplant, organ donation and the holiday season, all woven around an insightful interview with Stefan Pankiw, Spiritual Care, UHN. A heads up, this episode runs the gamut of emotions! From Hallmark movies and receiving the gift of life on Christmas Eve, to finding purpose through the loss of a loved one and eating latkes on the transplant unit, Courtney and Brittany provide listeners with a holistic view of the transplant holiday experience, and remind listeners that no matter where they are or what they're going through, they are not alone.

A huge thank you to Maariyah Rahman, Leslie Kaufman, Heather Talbot, and Len Hodder for graciously sharing their stories.



  
Episode 6 – A Perfect Match

Release Date: December 14, 2020 | Download the transcript 

Floral designer and living donor kidney transplant recipient Claudia Morgan shares her experience living with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), postponing the reality of kidney failure for a trip to Paris, and turning to her church for help with finding a living donor. Claudia speaks openly about life on dialysis – including the bond you form with your 'dialysis family' – as well as her reluctance to share her health condition with others, pushing out of her comfort zone to find a living donor through social media, and what it's like to go 'viral.'



  
Episode 5 – 'No' Was Not an Option: Our History of Transplant Innovation

Release Date: November 30, 2020 | Download the transcript 

Dr. Gary Levy and Charmaine Beal walk Courtney and Brittany through the history of the Ajmera Transplant Centre (previously the Multi-Organ Transplant Program) and its astounding number of world firsts. Dr. Levy talks candidly about his determination to find a treatment for end-stage liver disease, sleeping in the ICU, recruiting Dr. Heather Ross, and his dislike for the word ‘no,’ - while Charmaine discusses the early days of the program (no OTTR!) and how her career flourished from riding the rollercoaster that is working alongside Dr. Levy. From three beds in the Eaton wing to 700 transplants in 2019, discover the origins of the program that is leading the world in transplantation.



  
Episode 4 – What's Mine is Yours

Release Date: November 16, 2020 | Download the transcript 

Courtney and Brittany talk transplant with living liver donor Sonia Munoz, and her father and transplant recipient, Jaime. This hilarious duo walk our hosts through their whirlwind transplant experience that began in 2017, when Jaime was told he had three months to live. From chaos and uncertainty to recovery and reflection, Sonia and Jaime share their story with honesty, authenticity and laughter.



  
Episode 3 – Stay Positive, Test Negative: COVID-19 and Transplant

Release Date: November 2, 2020 | Download the transcript .

Courtney and Brittany sit down with Dr. Deepali Kumar, transplant infectious diseases physician in the Ajmera Transplant Centre, to talk transplant and COVID-19.

This episode was recorded June 2020. For the most recent updates on COVID-19 in Canada, please check with Health Canada.

For specific transplant related questions or specific health concerns, please check with your transplant team or health care provider.



Living Transplant podcast cover 
Episode 2 – Chaos in the Best of Times: Your First Transplant Workup Call

Release Date: November 2, 2020 | Download the transcript 

Colleen Shelton, nurse manager for the multi-organ transplant coordinators in the Ajmera Transplant Centre, explains what's kept her with the transplant program at UHN for over 25 years, including the unpredictable nature of working in transplant and being the one to make "the call." Colleen walks Courtney and Brittany through the process of a patient's first transplant workup call and shares some of her most rewarding moments working in transplant.



  
Episode 1 – In the Same Breath: Cystic Fibrosis and Double Lung Transplant

Release Date: November 2, 2020 | Download the transcript 

Hosts Brittany Cole and Courtney Mahrt interview Kadeem Morgan, a 23-year-old double lung transplant recipient living with cystic fibrosis (CF). Kadeem talks about growing up with CF – a rare genetic disease that predominantly affects Caucasian patients – as well as feelings of euphoria and guilt after transplant, and the collective rebelliousness that permeates the CF community.

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