Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 10 members of the VGH transplant team who work together in hospital to provide care for transplant patients started to "run together" virtually across Canada.
Their first steps took place on Canada Day 2020, and the team journeyed a combined total of 8,000 kms, which brought them virtually from St. John's, N.L. to Victoria, B.C. Each runner logged their distance, from 1km walks around the block up to a single 50km run for one member.
What started as a way to keep up morale and stay fit turned into something more. Along the way, the team gave thought to the donors from almost every province in Canada whose organs have been transplanted to patients in the VGH transplant program.
The team also finished their run on Green Shirt Day, April 7, 2021, a day that recognizes the incredible gifts of life of organ donors.
As they made their way across the country, the team also recognized the health partners across Canada that have contributed in multiple ways to the care of transplant patients at VGH.
"There is such great inter-provincial cooperation and support across the country for donation and transplant," says Dr. Chung, the liver transplant surgeon at VGH who initially brought the running team together. "It's wonderful how people work together across Canada to support patients wherever they are."
Maiqui Chua, Patient Care Coordinator in the transplant unit and a member of the running team, viewed the run as a way to help focus through the pandemic on what matters most—their patients.
"In the grand scheme of things I continue to tell myself and our patients daily (and with each run) that there is hope and things will get better," says Chua. "Just like running - we'll eventually reach the finish line to this challenging period of our lives."
Congratulations to all the members of the team on their achievement, both for making your way across country and for the work you do each and every day in providing essential and life-saving care to transplant recipients.
The team was made up of a spectrum of people involved in the continuum of transplant care in the VGH program.
(clockwise from top left):
Dr. Alex Lee – thoracic surgeon (lungs)
Annalise Mason – lung transplant coordinator
Gail Cartwright – operating room nurse and organ recovery assistant
Jessica Hodge – physiotherapist
Maiqui Chua – patient care coordinator
Dr. Maja Segedi – liver transplant surgeon
Shelagh Alam – transplant dietician
Dr. Stephen Chung – liver transplant surgeon
Terri Harapnuk – social worker
Dr. Vladimir Marquez – transplant hepatologist (liver)