Willie Dalagan, husband and father, is one of 39 double-lung recipients who gained a new lease on life at VGH in 2016.

Savings lives in record numbers

In 2016, more people received a life-saving organ transplant in BC than ever before — and most of those transplants took place at VGH. Of the 423 transplant recipients last year, 241 — or 56 per cent — had their surgeries performed at VGH.

One such recipient was Willie Dalagan. A few short months ago the father of three was facing death from respiratory failure. Then, on June 7, 2016, he received a new pair of lungs and new lease on life. The man who admits he had “prepared to die” is now thriving. And he’s not alone.

Willie is one of 39 double-lung recipients in 2016. Altogether, 40 lung transplants — up from 35 in 2015 — were performed at VGH last year, a record in its own right.

Year-over-year increases were also seen in other areas. Last year, VGH performed 114 kidney transplants (up from 111) and 4 pancreas transplants (up from 3).

It takes a village

At VGH, recipients were seen in our Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Cardiac Sciences ICU, and Operating Rooms, where staff also see the tragic side of organ donation and support families dealing with the loss of a loved one.

“The work is difficult and demanding in more ways than one,” says Andrea Bisaillon, operations director, surgical services, “but we work together, across all areas of the system, to ensure everything works smoothly for our recipients and to honour the donors.”

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Celebrating the 25th anniversary of her liver transplant, Darla Zary donates one of her paintings, My Soul’s Garden, to VGH.

The effort behind organ transplants involves numerous departments, including Patient Flow & Access, Medical Imaging, Laboratory & Immunology and, of course, the Solid Organ Transplant (SOT) unit and outpatient clinic at VGH.

“BC residents now have access to life-saving lung transplantation that is either comparable or better than in the rest of Canada thanks to the dedication of many individuals, always working as a team, to deliver highly complex care with compassion,” says Dr. John Yee, Head, Division of Thoracic Surgery, VCH-Vancouver.

Living proof 25 years later

Years from now, the legacy of our 2016 transplant cases will be found in the smiles and laughter of the recipients and their families.

Today, we celebrate the stories of all recipients including Darla Zary, a liver recipient and living proof of the difference one transplant can make 25 years later.

Here is her story:

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