This woman did the most wonderful thing for a kid she'll never meet

Even if you're squeamish like Heather, you might be so inspired by her story that you'll want to do what she did to save a child's life.

Photo: Twitter @HeatherBadenoch

Heather Badenoch from Ottawa has always loved giving back: she runs a PR agency for not-for-profits and rescues dogs in her spare time. But recently she went big and decided to give away a third of her liver to a random stranger–a very sick child. After recovering from the surgery, she took to Twitter to document this selfless act. And the whole thread makes for an amazing read.

You read that right, “a stranger”–she didn’t even know this kid before signing over 30 percent of a vital organ. So what made her do it?

We’re thrilled for Gianna-Lynn Favilla, who ended up receiving a transplant from her best friend’s dad (another hero in our books), but the sad thing is, a significant number of people on the liver and kidney transplant waiting lists die before receiving an organ. (That was the outcome for 278 Canadians in 2014.) And that’s why Heather decided that she’d go ahead and become a living donor anyway. Here’s a taste of what was involved in becoming a living donor:

There can be devastating bumps in the road:

How organ donation brought two families togetherBut after taking a moment to steel herself again, Heather kept going.

Many would worry about the physical risks of giving away a big chunk of an organ, but as Heather goes on to explain, the living donor transplants performed to date at Toronto General Hospital (where Heather had her surgery) have had stellar outcomes for the donors:

Finally, a new match was found, and Heather’s sliver of liver made its way through the Toronto General Hospital hallways in a snazzy red case…

through a tunnel into Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital…

into the body of a child in need, whose identity Heather will never know–but she’s OK with that.

The cool thing is, during her hospital stay she got to hang out with many organ recipients and watch them regain their strength and get ready to take on the world again.

And before long, thanks to the magic of self-regeneration, she was feeling great too.


So great that she was back at work quicker than doctors had expected:


Only one thing sucked in any way about the experience…


But foregoing wine for a while ultimately seemed trivial to Heather in relation to what she was able to do for the kid who got that piece of her liver. And part of the reward was being able to write a letter to this child and receive one in return. What a privilege!

I mean, just imagine being penpals with a child whose life you got to save!

While fewer than 60 selfless people have done what Heather did at Toronto General Hospital since 2005, anybody can apply to be an anonymous living organ donor.

And as well as saving a life, you get to hang with the dream team of doctors and nurses who make this whole miracle of modern science happen.

Think you wouldn’t have what it takes to go through something like this? Well, Heather says she’s squeamish, but she powered through (OK, with the help of another awesome human, her husband).

And now she and her surgeon have formed a mutual fan club.


And she has the best scar story.


It felt so worthwhile, that she’s gearing up to do it again, this time for a loved one in want of a kidney.


And she hopes other people will read her story and become living donors too.

So many kids (and grown-ups) are in desperate need of organ donations.

After receiving an overwhelming response to her tweets, Heather told Today’s Parent in an email that donors and recipients have also been inspired to share their stories, since seeing her thread.

“People who were close to death are now living their life, heading to university, meeting grandchildren—it’s good for the soul to hear about people doing so well,” she says.

So what are you waiting for?!

Read more:
I lost my hair, so other moms might not have to lose their child
I didn’t need to be pregnant, I needed to be a mom

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