Ken says, never apologize for showing emotion. I’m fortunate that he feels that way as tears streamed down my cheeks from about 8:15-8:30 during Friday morning’s show on News/Talk 1290. Jillian di Bernardo (married name, Best) used to guard her privacy. But she had to give a lot of it up during her fight to save her own life. Jillian suffered from a hereditary liver disease (her Mother underwent a liver transplant) and found herself in need of a donor. However, she wasn’t high priority on the long list for organs. So she went to social media, and traditional media, to find one.
Here, she was already dangerously thin and unwell, but it would get a lot worse before it got better. Jillian became so ill that a live donation (part of a liver) was not possible. She needed a whole one and eventually one was found from a young man who had died. (His identity is confidential) Since then, she has won two silver medals at the Transplant Games and been a strong supporter to get people signed up at beadonor.ca. I think it’s criminal that we bury and incinerate so many healthy organs when peoples’ lives are at stake.
So, about those tears.
When I was ill with sepsis, Dr. Hernandez, then-head of the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at University Hospital, was the lead on my case. He broke the news that I would need a liver transplant. The odds of getting one was next to nil, and Derek and I absorbed that grim reality. Dr. Hernandez had never seen a case like mine and truly didn’t believe he could save me, so he told me the truth. But he did save me. I only had to think about my premature demise for a day or two. Jillian’s fight lasted for the better part of a year. Dr. Hernandez performed her surgery and she knows him well. Talking to her brought my own case back to mind in full colour. I shed quiet tears of gratitude for both of us. Only those of us in the studio knew about my wet-cheek reaction because I didn’t throw my own comparatively minor situation into the interview. The segment wasn’t about me. It was about this wonderful woman and how much better the world is with her in it.