Two new leases on life, one new book
Author White hosts book launch next Saturday
Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 06:00 am
Saturday, Oct. 6
from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
Star of the North Retreat Centre
3A St. Vital Ave.
Available for purchase in paperback form at Bookstore on Perron, Chapters (St. Albert) and online at www.collisionwithgrace.com. E-book also available on website.
Book will also be for sale during launch.
Anthony White went through hell a few years ago. Now that he’s back in good health, he wants to share his story with the world and tell people that life is for the living, and organ transplants are the best kind of gift.
The 67-year-old British Columbia native had hepatitis B but was otherwise in pretty good health. He played baseball and he still knew how to drink. He was taking Heptovir to manage the virus and some blood work came back in 2008 that there was no sign of
He thought that he had beaten it. He stopped taking the drug, a mistake he now admits. A couple of drinks at Christmas did much damage, he would soon find out.
In early 2009, now living in Grande Cache, he started losing energy and getting confused. One day, someone looked at him and said, “Is it the light in here or are you turning a shade of yellow?”
White had jaundice, a classic sign of liver failure.
After that, he saw more aspects of the health-care system and experienced more health problems than many people probably see in their entire lives.
In his book, Collision with Grace, he writes, “The end of January 2009 was the end of normal as I knew it.”
The worst was yet to come. He needed a transplant and his situation was dire. He collapsed and had to taken by STARS Air Ambulance to University of Alberta Hospital. He was put on the list for transplants but he had a relatively low priority status.
His son signed up to donate a large portion of his liver. The procedure worked but White’s body eventually rejected the organ. The time that had been bought had suddenly run out. Doctors gave him very little time and he advanced right up to the top of the list.
“I was the sickest guy in the ICU,” he said.
The Human Organ Procurement and Exchange program was looking for donors across the country, even in the United States.
White’s collision with grace came from the east. An unknown individual, who had decided to donate organs upon his or her death, died and was a match. White soon had his second liver and another new lease on life. This transplant worked.
During this time, he went through a collapsed lung, kidney failure, drop foot… every system in his body was tested to its limit. Miraculously, and with the help of numerous doctors, nurses and other health professionals, he’s still here and in top form.
He’s not taking the rest of his life sitting down. White says that he wants to live by compassion, generosity and service to others.
He now volunteers for HOPE, the program that saved his life, by doing public speaking engagements to talk about the need for more people to become organ donors. In his words, “The need is acute.”
“Just about everybody is going to be in need of acute health care at some point.”
Next week, he launches Collision with Grace at the Star of the North Retreat Centre. Profits from sales, he says, will go toward improving education of organ donation, what he calls “the ultimate in recycling.”
He has many messages, especially about organ donation and how great Alberta’s health-care system is, but also of spiritual growth, of living through giving, and of how there can still be some good to come out of tragedy. Organ donation, he says, is as much a gift for the donor’s family as it is for the recipient.
“In my book I say that perhaps one person’s suffering is an opportunity for others to grow spiritually. Someone else’s plight can open the door for another to become compassionate and generous,” he said. “Within these loving actions is the gift of spiritual growth. Through a personal health crisis, both patient and caregiver have the opportunity to grow.”
He says care for caregivers is one area that needs the most attention in the future. That’s one of the reasons why he has become a chaplain at the U of A Hospital.
According to statistics provided by Alberta Health Services, there were 274 organ transplants performed in Edmonton in 2011 alone. At the end of last year, 455 people were still on the waiting list.