Although Rosa Shields has what she calls a “map of World War II” worth of scars across her body, she considers herself to be an incredibly lucky person.
As a double transplant recipient, Rosa sings the praises of the doctors and other healthcare professionals at the MUHC who saved her life and gave her a new appreciation for each and every day.
Rosa’s story began in 1976 when she was diagnosed with a chronic kidney disorder. She underwent a kidney transplant in 1982. After doing well for 9 years, she experienced problems with the transplant and fell ill once more
“I went back on dialysis, and started the whole process over again,” she said.
Then, in 1994 as she was about to receive her second kidney transplant, doctors told Rosa that she also had sclerosis of the liver, which would require a liver transplant.
A new lease on life
Since the successful double transplant, Rosa has been enjoying her new lease on life and hasn’t looked back.
“I’m doing things today that I never imagined I’d be doing,” she said. Just one year after her operation, she toured Europe by motorcycle and has also participated in a marathon.
“There are not many people who receive the gift of life. There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t realize that, and I’m forever grateful to my donors.”
In short, she is now living every day to the fullest, saying she gets up early in the morning because she realizes time is a very precious commodity. “When you’re so close to leaving this world, you wake up and say, ‘OK, I’m breathing, it’s a good day.’”
Working to help others
Today, Rosa works to ensure others can enjoy a second chance at life, just as she did.
For the past 12 years she has served as President of the MUHC’s Organ Transplant Patients’ Committee, which holds an annual “Celebration of Life” fundraiser that benefits the Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation’s Organ Transplant Fund.
“I’m honoured to have had a hand in helping so many people,” she said. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know we’re making a difference by raising awareness and much-needed funds to support life-saving transplants at the MUHC.”