Manitoban chosen to represent all living kidney donors in Canada

Every year Canadian Blood Services honours a variety of people – donors, volunteers, peer recruiters, partners/sponsors – at a special event in the nation’s capital.

“Honouring Our Lifeblood” recognizes people who give blood, plasma or platelets, have joined the stem cell registry as well as living organ donors who selflessly donate an organ to save and improve lives.

Staff at programs like Transplant Manitoba – Gift of Life are asked to help identify and nominate potential honourees. Living donor coordinator Jody Sawatzky had the perfect candidate in mind and she went to work to write the formal nomination with a little help from the team’s communications specialist.

To the delight of the team, this year’s recipient is Manitoban Ian Goodall-George and he will represent all of the living donors in Canada who participated in the Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) Program.

“Ian gave a part of himself, but he has always talked about how the experience has enriched his own life,” said Jody, adding Ian came back from donating his kidney with an infectious positivity. “He has been involved with our program doing radio interviews to promote donation and has agreed to become a peer resource for other living kidney donors who come forward.”

Ian is passionate about making the world a better place through both his professional and personal life. As a consultant in the provincial department of Children and Youth Opportunities, Ian helps families every day. As a husband, father and a caring individual, Ian makes choices that have a positive impact on those around him.

In January 2014, Ian’s decision to become an anonymous living kidney donor improved or saved the life of someone he will never meet. In addition to being a regular blood and platelet donor, Ian’s support of organ donation and has been outstanding, and his 15-year commitment to bone marrow donation highlights his determination to help others in need.

“I am asked all the time what made me want to donate a kidney to a complete stranger,” said Ian, adding it isn’t a simple answer.  “I have always believed that you need to give back – especially when you are as blessed as I have been. What I did was a very small sacrifice to make a difference in someone else’s life who needed a little good luck.”

Ian said the decision was easy after he spoke with his wife and knew his in-laws were there to take care of children and many pets while he and Shanon went out of province (donors travel to where the recipient is). “Once I was back on my feet, I didn’t feel finished – I left like there was still more I could do to increase the awareness and acceptance of organ donation, so I share my story where ever I can.”

The selected nominee is invited to be representative of all the living donors in Canada who have given the gift of an organ for transplantation, and will receive recognition and a token of CBS’s appreciation for participation in Canada's transplant system. Ian was in Ottawa on September 28th to receive the award.

“This award is huge to me and an incredible honour,” said Ian. “I would like to share it with the team.”