By Jessica Lovell
Most people dread the calls that come in the wee hours of the morning. But for Janet Parr, the call that came at close to 1 a.m. was a lifesaver.
The local mother and educator had been on-call for more than two years, waiting for a heart transplant because her own heart had stopped doing its job.
On Nov. 19, she got the call. “She just asked me a few questions about my general health and told me they thought they had a heart,” said Parr, recounting the late-night call.
“We were all really calm,” she said, describing how she and her family reacted to the news. They knew when they made the trip to Toronto that there was a chance the heart might not be the right one, she said.
But it seems it was the right one, and Parr feels that the work she’s done raising awareness for organ donation has paid off.
She will continue to encourage people to register their organ donation intentions at beadonor.ca, and talk to their families about their wishes in order to ensure that life-saving time is not lost.
“I fully intend to continue work raising awareness,” she said. “I have a different side of my story to tell. I’m living proof that organ donation saves lives.”
Currently, Parr is still recovering from surgery – a process that can be expected to take three to six months. But she was home after 11 days and was able to go ahead with a planned celebration for her husband’s birthday.
“It was wonderful to get home,” she said.
She now makes weekly hospital visits to check for signs of rejection, and her immune system is low because of the medication to prevent rejection.
“I’ll always be on medication, because rejection could happen at any time,” she said.
But she also said she feels great. “Physically, I’m still weaker than I’d like to be, but every day I’m noticing a difference in strength,” she said.
In time, Parr plans to send a thank you to the family of the organ donor through the Trillium Gift of Life network, the provincial organization that oversees organ donation. Organ donation is anonymous, and the donor’s family does not have to read Parr’s letter, but they have the option and Parr believes it’s important to let them know what the gift has meant to her.
“I can’t find the words at the moment to express how I feel,” she said. “Through all of this, it’s been the human side of it that has meant the most.”