Milestone Anniversaries

Un texte de Andrea Conway

Paru dans le numéro

Publié le : 16 août 2023

Dernière mise à jour : 16 août 2023


My donor's mother says this experience has changed her life in a positive way, making her feel that her son’s life was not lost in vain.

Andrea Conway and her donor’s mother, Martha

This December, I celebrate five years of incredible living, thanks to my no-longer anonymous kidney donor. This coincides with awesome serendipity with Le Tour’s 40th anniversary.

I have been writing anonymously to my donor’s mother for over four years, every hand- written letter proof-read by Transplant Quebec. I must have mentioned in one of many letters that I sometimes write for my community paper. Now I know that my donor’s family spent several years reading community papers across Quebec.

In late April, I received a call from Geneviève Hébert the editor and owner of Le Tour. I thought she was calling about an article but, to my surprise, she told me she had received a call from my anonymous donor’s mother, wanting Geneviève to pass along her contact information.

Geneviève was so sweet and protective, wanting to make sure I was ready for this information. The family could have called directly. I found it really touching that everyone involved wanted to be respectful while giving me a choice. Not all organ recipients want full contact. 

Filled with emotion I called the number and spoke with my donor’s mother, Marta. We cried, we laughed, and finally met in person and hugged. It was beyond incredible. 

Although not a religious person, I do pray. Every morning since my transplant I place my hand on my gifted kidney and thank my donor. I am now able to thank Marta’s son, my hero, by his name. I thank Steve every morning for the extraordinary gift he has given me.

Yes, for his kidney, but also for this incredible family who have taken me in as if a long-lost daughter and sister. 

Marta and I now speak regularly on the phone. I recently found out that Marta was originally against organ donation. What helped Marta change her mind in the darkest times of losing her son was that her daughters believed in organ donation and Steve had signed his driver’s licence. In Quebec, it only takes one person from the family to stop the donation. Luckily, Marta respected her son’s wishes and was well accompanied with, who she calls “Angel nurses”. Marta now plays a major role in “La mission du Dr. Marsolais”, an organization that helps families of organ donors. She says this experience has changed her life in a positive way, making her feel that Steve’s life was not lost in vain. Marta continues to inspire me.

Filled with gratitude, this whole experience has motivated me to try and make a social impact with art. My husband Wayne and I recently received an Exploration Grant from Canada Council for the Arts to begin the creation of a romantic docu-theatre, comedy, tap dancing digital musical about kidney failure and transplant. 

I cannot thank Le Tour enough. This beautifully crafted paper has nourished me as a creative collaborator during a difficult time in my life. Congratulation for 40 years of sharing astounding stories in our community !

Andrea Conway