Southern Alberta woman waiting for double lung transplant praises governments new organ donation legislation

Karen Hamilton has lived with Cystic Fibrosis her entire life. She inherited the disease from her parents who both carried the gene. CF mainly affects the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestines. “I’m on oxygen 24- 7 and some days are better than others. Most of the time I cannot carry my girls and I can’t do housework,”said Karen.

Karen knew she was never able to have children so she found a surrogate mother who carried her twin daughters Emma and Lily who are now 18 months old. But it was during that time when Karen’s health took a turn for the worse. She was told by doctors that she will need a double lung transplant. ” A few months before the girls were born I got really sick and this expedited this process,” says Karen.” I knew this would come. I hope I’m not one of the ones who pass away waiting. My doctors assured me because I’m younger they try hard for us, but at the same time you just don’t know.”

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In Alberta there are around 80 people on the waiting list to receive lung transplants. But Karens’s doctors say there are only about 30-40 donations each year. Most of those are from out of province or country because Alberta has one of the lowest organ donation rates in the country. But new legislation passed means Albertan’s will soon be able to consent to donate their organs upon death when they renew their licences. Before the new act, consent to donate needed to be provided in writing, dated, signed, and witnessed, to be legally binding.

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