At age 16, local resident, Dr. Adam Moir was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and then at age 19, Moir was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis which is an auto-immune liver disease.
Seeing many doctors and undergoing regular liver tests and monitoring, Moir decided he needed to make some changes.
“Part of the reason I went into medicine was because I couldn’t get into emergency departments, couldn’t get in to see my family doctor, and had six month wait times to see my family doctor,” said Moir. “I got frustrated and though this really isn’t a system that’s working. I thought I would go to this medical school that was opening up in northern Ontario.”
Working at the Vancouver Aquarium at the time, Moir was just about to make the move to medical school, when his doctor said his liver tests were getting worse and to make an appointment with a liver specialist in Ottawa.
“I went to Ottawa to see the liver specialist, and this was in about August, just before I was supposed to start medical school. She said it was so bad that I should be sent to the transplant team and maybe get considered for a transplant,” said Moir. “I asked her if I should go to medical school, and she said there is usually a couple of year wait for a transplant, so I might as well go.”
Moir started medical school, but upon consultation with the transplant team in October, only two months later, they had a different idea.
“The transplant team said I was pretty sick and the transplant should be done as soon as possible. They said they know the wait list for deceased organs is prohibitively long so would any of my family be willing to be a donor,” said Moir.
Moir then followed up that appointment with an e-mail to his family, asking some of his close friends and family if that was something they would be willing to do.
“They tested both of my parents, but they both weren’t appropriate candidates. My brother who is two years younger than me was going to be tested. They found that he was a candidate,” said Moir.
Receiving the transplant on Dec. 19, 2005 from his brother, it was an eight-hour surgery for both brothers, and roughly three days after writing some major exams for Moir’s first year of medical school.
“We had to spend about a month in Toronto, which my brother hates because he’s a true northern Ontario boy, but we recovered well and I actually went back to medical school about a month after the transfer,” said Moir. “So, since then my family has become very active, my grandma and my mom organize an organ donation run in Thunder Bay every year, they volunteer with Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and I’m a big advocate for organ transplantation.”
Moir has plans to organize an organ donation awareness run in Dryden in the spring.
Moir said his brother had a one in 400 risk of dying due to the donation, and Moir himself had a five per cent chance of death in the first year.
Moir said jokingly that his relationship with his brother is very guilt-based now.
“He’s very humble, he never talks about it, he doesn’t like people bringing it up. He would never tell you about it if you met him, he’s very personal,” said Moir.
“It will be six years in December and my son was born one day before my liver transplant. I have two kids now and it’s all because of my brother, what he was able to do, and made that sacrifice.”