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Winnipegger bares transplant scars to push Canadians to donate organs

WINNIPEG — At any given time in Manitoba, there are about 200 people on the wait list for a kidney transplant and about 20 people waiting for a lung, heart or liver transplant.

Ten years ago, Sandy Rozecki was one of those people.

“At a very young age, we knew I was going to need a liver transplant. I was diagnosed with Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC),” said Rozecki.

READ MORE: Canada’s organ donor rate lags behind other countries. How do you fix it?

Her liver was functioning at less than five per cent.

“At the age of 35 we were told that small tumours had started to form on the liver … which was not expected,” she said.

Rozecki, along with more than 1,600 other Canadians that year, was added to the organ donor wait list.

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She was eventually admitted to the hospital and underwent a liver transplant.

The start of the road to recovery after Sandy Rozecki underwent liver transplant surgery.

 

A new organ and 63 staples later and she was on the road to recovery.

Sandy Rozecki had 63 staples and a large scar following her liver transplant.

 

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Rozecki experienced another miracle six weeks after the surgery. She was pregnant… after being told she wouldn’t be able to have kids.

Fast forward 10 years and two kids later.

Rozecki made another life-changing decision. She wasn’t only going to get healthy, but showcase her war wounds to encourage Canadians to sign up as organ donors and save lives.

RELATED: Manitoban received liver transplant from live donor – her hairdresser

That’s when she met Jason Penner and the team at Aspire Fitness.

The Pushups to Pinups program is an intense 12-week program Penner and his team have put more than 150 women through.

“There are four workouts per week done with our staff,” said Penner. “There are a lot of ‘I cant’s’ or ‘I never thought I’d be able to do that,’ ” he said.

But the professional photo shoot at the end of the program is a huge driving force.

Sandy Rozecki is stronger than she’s ever been before. Kelly Morton / Provided.

 

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Rozecki’s story and shoot hit close to home for photographer Kelly Morton.

“My mother died when I was 12 years old,” said Morton. “We had her organs donated and it helped improve or save the lives of 14 to 18 people.”

Rozecki’s road map of scars on her stomach are a reminder of where she’s been and the future she will have thanks to an anonymous donor.

“Lots of people have tattoos. These are my tattoos,” she said. “These are the beauty marks of my experience.”

Sandy Rozecki shows off her “war wounds.” Kelly Morton / Provided.

 

You can sign up to be an organ donor online at signupforlife.ca.