The call for organ donation from a patient who has benefited from a transplant

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The call for organ donation from a patient who received a transplant

Madison Freeman recovering in hospital after the transplant that saved her eye from a fungal infection found only in tropical climates.

Ontarian woman in remission a transplant calls for organ and tissue donation, as one person dies every three days in the province due to a lack of available organs.

Madison Freeman underwent surgery lately in order to save his right eye, whose fungal infection threatened to have it removed.

It was thanks to a corneal transplant that his nightmare ended, prompting him to encourage people who can to sign up as donors.

Being able to “Inspiring people to donate their organs, to donate their corneas, is such a positive thing,” the 26-year-old says in an interview with CBC.

Mrs. Freeman is one of the lucky ones. Nearly 1,500 Ontarians are waiting for an organ transplant, and one person dies every three days because the organ they need isn't available, according to Trillium Gift of Life Network. The Ontario government agency is responsible for the province's organ donation system.

Ms. Freeman's ordeal began some time after she and his partner Konrad left for Central America in February to teach English to children in Honduras.

In May, inflammation appeared in Madison Freeman's right eye. The doctor at a nearby clinic told her it was conjunctivitis. However, the pain kept getting worse, and just two days after her first visit, the woman was sent to a specialist and underwent emergency surgery.

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The young woman said an emotional goodbye to some of her students before returning to Canada in May.

It turned out to be from a fungal infection seen only in tropical climates.

Madison, who lives in Waterloo, says it took her a while to figure out the extent of her problem, which forced her to return to Canada.

I wasn't really thinking about that, I was mostly thinking about children at the time, she says, referring to the Honduran students she had to leave behind.

Later in May, she returned to Toronto, where she saw a number of specialists. A doctor told her she had to prepare for the worst – having her eye removed.

It was quite hard to hear, recalls- she. We didn't know it was that bad at the time. It seemed a bit hopeless.

She then met Dr. Clara Chan, an ophthalmologist at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto. She assured him that a corneal transplant – the transparent outer layer at the front of the eye that helps focus light – could save his eyesight.

It is now done.

Ophthalmologist Clara Chan checks Madison Freeman's eye weekly.

The infection could spread elsewhere if left untreated, Dr. Chan said. The corneal transplant saved not only his sight, but also the anatomical structures of the rest of his eye.

Any Ontarian 16 and older with a valid health card can register to become an organ and tissue donor, according to Trillium Gift of Life Network. A donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and improve up to 75 lives through tissue donation, according to the agency.

Even if eyes are not retrieved for transplant until after death, people are still refractory, making the eye the least likely organ to be donated , points out Ms. Freeman. She eventually wants to thank her donor, but for now prefers to persuade as many people as possible to sign up.

I have been through some very depressing and very scary, she says, talking about her adventure.

Yet this negative thing turned into so many positive things that I almost can't be upset.

With information from Meg Roberts, CBC

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