This past weekend in San Francisco was not just an opportunity to meet Felicia and her family, it was also a working vacation. Last year, I applied for a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Journalism Award and proposed a series on organ transplant research. Well, my timing was right on because earlier this year, Ottawa announced funding for a new Canadian National Transplant Research Program. My application was successful and I have spent the past few months researching, setting up interviews and working extra hours to get this series off the ground.
I have been impressed by the amount of research Canadian investigators are working on right now that could change the lives of transplant patients including Addison. While transplant isn’t a cure now, it could be one day…hopefully in our lifetimes?! While this project will take me away from home (and the Princess) for a few more work trips, I think it is important to get the public informed about the challenges facing transplant patients and offer them hope. Perhaps it will galvanize people to help fund transplant-specific research too.
So you may have noticed a TV cameraman in the pictures from our visit with Felicia. Sergio came down to document our meeting for the series, plus we interviewed a world-reknown researcher UCSF who has been conducting a groundbreaking study weaning pediatric liver transplant patients off their immune-suppression drugs. We met Desiree, a wonderful and inspiring teen who has been completely off her meds for six years now. Her family welcomed us (all of us) with open arms and our transplant circle has expanded yet again.
Addison once again impressed me with her sense of adventure, zest for life, boundless energy and love of new experiences. She was so generous with her hugs and kisses, even to people who had been complete strangers only 15 minutes earlier. She was rarely whiny or cranky, even under the most trying circumstances that frustrated the adults. She kept us entertained with her nonstop stream-of-consciousness chatter. She was exasperating in her desire to remove her shoes at every possible opportunity. She enjoyed the company of “Auntie Sergio” as she insisted calling our colleague, even though we repeatedly told her he’s “Uncle”, not “Auntie”. She was on a single-minded mission to find a merry-go-round as we drove through Sonoma to get to Desiree’s interview. Would you believe there actually was a merry-go-round? We didn’t have time to stop but the next day, I found her a merry-go-round at Pier 39, next to the famous sea lions. The Princess thoroughly enjoyed her ride and was adamant at getting a second turn. It was such a joy and delight to travel with Addison, even while working. As I said to Sergio one afternoon laughing, “This has got to be the weirdest work trip you’ve ever been on!!” But oh so memorable.
Elaine, Aaron and Addison