Tag Archives: organ donor

Two Great Events coming up in Vancouver

Two Great Events are coming up in Vancouver that I wanted to share with y’all. If you can’t attend, send positive vibrations.


The goal of The Deeper Side Blog is to inspire change. What better way to embrace change than by celebrating it? How else to celebrate women who are making the step to live clean and sober than by making them queens for a day? In anticipation of their forth-coming nuptials? How about gifting them designer, custom wedding dresses? Custom made Jewellery? How about a day at Zazou Spa?  How about those dresses be none other than upcycled wedding dresses from Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal Boutique?  Welcome to the ReVamp Gala.


Celebrating the triumphant struggle of brave women, in front of the beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium, Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal designs will be upcycling wedding dresses.  Specially crafted jewellery will be gifted to the brides by Mirror Mirror Bijoux by Pamela Chang, a local designer. (I have pair of earrings I love by Pamela Chang.) And there will be a fashion show to celebrate.  All proceeds from the event will be donated to YWCA Crabtree Corner (assisting pregnant women with addictions). http://www.puremagnolia.ca/2013/09/inspiration-tuesday-the-ywca-crabtree-corner-brides/


Second event is the TORCH OF LIFE is a huge media event, including press conferences, film screenings at VGH and Walk for Life Organ Donation.  https://www.facebook.com/events/510954582320796/

I was a living liver donor 2.5 years ago (yes, my liver grew back). Most people who need organs die on the waiting list waiting for someone else to die (yes it’s a weird feeling being on the wait list waiting for someone to die). If laws were changed then many people who were in my position will be spared the ordeal to save a loved one. Canada currently has an organ donation program where we opt in. This means that unless you have signed up to be a donor, you wont be one. The upshot of Canada’s current system is that most organs are lost to those who need them because, unintentionally, they didn’t sign up. Uruguay Mexico, Columbia and Singapore have recently implemented presumptive consent for organ donation. Presumptive consent means that the default is that you opt out. So if you don’t want to donate your organs, you don’t have to donate your organs.

Torch of Life
Karen Hurd Stacey, in a loving gesture, donated her “Blood Money” to help others. Given a transfusion of tainted blood many years ago, she developed liver disease.  Given compensation by the government and turning a tragedy to triumph, Karen used the money to set up the Stacey House. See my post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/05/21/livers-and-givers-karen-stacey/

Karen works tirelessly in the hospitals, volunteering and advising and supporting those people who desperately need an organ. She recently told me about a young man in intensive care who’s barely hanging on, hoping against hope, racing against the clock.  Karen has put together an amazing event to raise awareness for organ donation.  Two films will be shown: stories to touch you: one is about a Palestinian boy killed in the crossfire. His organs went to Israeli children.  In Nicholas’ Gift Nicholas killed while on holiday in Italy.  His parents saved multiple lives donating his organs.  Nicholas lives on.  This makes me cry just writing about it.

To celebrate life and miracles we are given by modern medicine, please come out, see the film, hear what Doctors, donors and recipients have to say and Join the short Walk for Life from VGH to Vancouver City Hall.  Seating is limited for the film.  So get your tickets before they are gone.

Livers and Givers – Karen Stacey

“Life loves the liver of it.”

– Maya Angelou

I was a living liver donor 2 years ago and am still working on the book about it “Deliver Me.”  I have met so many true heroes, angel nurses and doctors that it’s hard to keep track.  Much of the time, I feel a halo of love and light (covering the painful memories) surrounding this experience.    Having met other donors, I’ve been humbled by their tales of sacrifice.  Recently I had the honor to meet Karen Stacey.  Her story has moved me to write to today.

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Karen Stacy, founder of the Happy Liver Society

Karen’s story reads like a nightmarish urban myth. It was hard for Karen to tell this story.  Not only is it true and painful but it is also uplifting and hopeful.  With her permission…

Many years ago, Karen found herself in the worst situation an expectant mother can be in.  At eight months of pregnancy, she lost her baby.  Her baby was almost fully grown when the placenta separated from the wall of the uterus. This is a relatively rare occurrence.  I only know about it because this happened to a close friend of mine.  It’s agonizingly painful, the bleeding is tremendous and the mother, who has just lost her most precious hope, is now losing her blood by the litre.  Her baby dead, she must now find the will to live.

Karen was given transfusions to replace what blood she had lost in this tragic series of events.  Although her body eventually recovered, the ache that a mother has for her lost baby never really heals, never goes away.  Karen, a bright, bustling, energetic and strong woman, picked up the pieces of her broken heart and healed her body.  She went on to have two children, work and live her life to the fullest.

Years after that fateful miscarriage, Karen was diagnosed with liver disease.  “How could this have happened?” she asked herself.  What had she done to get liver disease?  When I was going through the tests to be an organ donor, I was asked the same questions over and over again.  Did I go to unlicensed tattoo-parlours?  Had I ever exchanged sex  or sexual favours for money?  Had I ever used tainted needles?  (no, no and no – in case you’re wondering.)  Karen was surely asked all those questions too.  It took a while to figure out, but eventually the medical team traced Karen’s illness back to her miscarriage   They determined that she had been transfused with bad blood, the same blood which had paradoxically saved her.  Karen’s life is in jeopardy now because of a well-meaning blood donor decades prior.  That blood was tainted.

“I felt like typhoid Mary,” Karen told me. She panicked, worrying that she had unwittingly infected her husband and children and everybody else in her life.  She thought she had given the kiss of death to her nearest and dearest.  Thank Goodness that she didn’t and hadn’t.

Karen was given compensation from the government from having received tainted blood.  She said “I could have used the money to make myself comfortable and stop working.”  She considered that option.  Most people would have taken care of themselves.  But that was wrong, “That was blood money,” she said.


Suffering from debilitating liver disease, Karen used that blood money to buy an apartment for transplant patients and named it Stacey House.  It is across the street from the hospital and belongs to the “Happy Liver Society” which Karen founded.  She could simply have bought a house for herself or her children.  She could have travelled around the world or hired extra care.  But no, she gave that money to the community.  Even though it was owed to her and given to her, she *gave it away* to help others.  In the full throes of liver disease and dying, Karen was worried about the others who were suffering.  Thanks to the Stacey House, patients and their families with limited means have a comfortable home when they come to the city for a transplant.

Karen had been on the transplant list for 4 years, the longest wait to date in BC.  Most patients who need transplants die.  They slowly die. Whilst waiting for someone else to die.

When I met Karen at the Happy Liver Society’s Spring Fling last month, I nearly fell over when she told me that she had gotten her recycled liver only 8 months before.  “That’s amazing!” I gasped in wonderment.  As a liver *donor*, I was certainly not up to organizing a big event 8 months post surgery.  Organizing a gala takes Energy.  (Like a wedding.)  “Oh, I hosted an event 9 days after my transplant surgery,” Karen said, smiling with a soupcon of nonchalance.

Needless to say, Karen is a beacon of light.  I felt almost silly when *she* presented *me* with a Bill Reid print, “Happy Liver Society Gift of Life Award” for being a living donor.  Karen is the working tirelessly, not just at her job and life, but also at making the world a better place for those suffering from sickness and recovering from serious surgery.  I salute Karen: her tenacity, her generosity, her sacrifices and indomitable spirit.  May her noble purpose and positive energy infect us all.

For more information about the Happy Liver society please click below: