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Brampton, Ont. woman searching for the recipient of her son’s heart

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A Brampton woman is on a mission to find the man who received the gift of her son’s heart earlier this year.

Sharon Vandrish’s journey began back in September 2017, when doctors told her that they were going to unplug her son, Keerin Reid, from life support. He was 23 years old.

Keerin had been in hospital for three days after suffering from an accidental fentanyl overdose before doctors declared him brain dead. 

His mother said she immediately wanted to « find something positive out of the tragedy. »

« At least we could save the lives of others through his passing, » she said in an interview.

« That gave me some level of comfort. »

Vandrish donated her son’s organs — including his heart — to four people through the Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN).

The network, which is the provincial body responsible for organ donation in Ontario, facilitates communication between recipients and a donor’s family six months after the operation takes place.

Sharon Vandrish describes her late son as ‘very supportive’ and ‘loyal.’ (Submitted) 

Vandrish took the first step.

« I remember saying that if the size of my son’s heart was measured by how much he loved me, then it wouldn’t fit in the recipient, » she said.

She and the recipient of her son’s heart struck up a correspondence.

« I just wanted to get him to know Keerin, to make it more humane than just an organ. He was a person. »

Through their letters, Vandrish learned that the recipient was a 54-year-old father of a boy and a girl. She also found out that shortly after the transplant, he picked up hobbies that were dear to her late son.

Keerin was an avid gardener, which she explained in one of her letters. The recipient broke down in his reply, confessing that he had recently taken it up. 

« Its a roller-coaster of emotion because you want to know that person is OK … and you want to know that your son’s memory lives on, » she said. 

Confidentiality laws

After exchanging three powerful letters, Vandrish wants to meet the man himself.

« It just seems like a natural progression to me, » she said. « I just think it would close the loop on this whole process. »

But according to Ontario law, organ donations must be kept strictly confidential. Even the letters exchanged between the pair pass through the foundation to be vetted first to ensure they do not breach the rules.

« Personal information is protected to safeguard both the donors’ families and recipients, ensuring that neither is subject to an undesired relationship, » TGLN said in an email. 

« Organ and tissue donation is an emotional process, and the feelings of both donor families and recipients are difficult to predict or assume. »

Sharon Vandrish carries a charm with her late son’s thumbprint and his initials on her bracelet. (Yanjun Li/CBC)

Vandrish doesn’t agree.

« If we’ve both said yes, I don’t understand why you’d want to prevent that, » she said. She has reached out to the foundation directly, but they advised her to lobby her MPP.

« I don’t know how to lobby my legislature, nor do I imagine they’d care about my little situation, » she said. « It’s probably a drop in the bucket compared to bigger issues. »

She took to Reddit instead.

Vandrish’s appeal comes just months after a Newfoundland woman, Jodi Loder, was able to feel her brother’s heartbeat after a similar search.

Loder’s brother died in 2016 in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. The recipient, Robert Buttle, lived over a thousand kilometres, away in Battersea Ont. But after two years — thanks to social media, a CBC interview and sheer determination — Loder was able to connect with him. 

« It was amazing, just to put my head on Rob’s chest and listen to it the same way I listened to Jeff’s. It was beating the exact same beat, » she said of the experience. 

« It felt like home. »

This is the same type of heartfelt connection that Vandrish is looking for. 

Her message to the stranger out there with her son’s heart?

« No pressure but if this is something that interests you. I’m sure there are many ways that you can get ahold of me. I would welcome the opportunity. »



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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