Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I had an interesting experience this morning.  I had a letter I had written, read on CJOB this morning.  In April of 2009 I was interviewed on Charles Adler's show.  This was the first time I had ever been interviewed or spoken publicly about Russell's or Susan's health care journeys.  This started what would become a passion for improving the health care system.  Before I started this blog I had a private blog where I chronicled our hospital experiences.  As I thought about this interview I pulled out my old blog as I was curious what I said about that first interview that took place in 2009.  Here is my only mention of the interview.  I think I've gotten considerably "wordier" over the years.  From this post I think you can tell I had other things on my mind beyond pandering to the media.

A Good Experience

Posted Apr 9, 2009 3:43pm

Well I'm glad that's over!
I wished everyone could have heard the conversation between the commercials. I must say that Chuck was very good to deal with and asked a lot of questions before the interview about what we wanted to discuss and things that were "off limits." I hope everyone got something out of it.
It was especially nice to get a visit from Susan and Russell after the interview. Russell had a Doctor's visit this afternoon and they never got to hear the interview. By the way, Russell is almost 16 lbs now...way to go Russell!


Radio personalities can be polarizing.  I certainly don't agree with all of Mr Adler's opinions but there were many things that I think we definitely agree.  Diversity of opinion is a great thing.  It has been interesting crossing paths with media types over the past few years, but this first interview will be one I'll always remember fondly.

Here is the original copy of the email I sent to Charles Adler that I sent yesterday, which was read on the air this morning.  I really liked the way he read it and captured the tone I was trying to convey.

 Good morning,
First off, I want to wish you well on your move to the West Coast.  You will be missed from the airwaves in Winnipeg and I, and many others wish you all the best in the future.
On your last week here in Winnipeg, I feel we have some unfinished business that we need to resolve.  As you are someone who comes into our homes and offices, almost on a daily basis, I feel it is a worthwhile exercise to have a glimpse of how some of that influence has affected some of your listeners.  I can only share one experience and that is my own.
I had the privilege of being interviewed on your show in the spring of 2009.  This was a very tumultuous time for my family.  We had just returned from Edmonton where my infant son had spent 6 months in hospital which resulted in him receiving a heart transplant.  At the time, my wife was also very ill with her own heart illness.  We would be heading back to Edmonton for her own open heart surgery in June of '09.
This was the time when the story of Baby Kaylee Vitelli broke.  This was an infant who was diagnosed with Joubert Syndrome, a rare respiratory disease.  The story sparked numerous issues.  The parents in this situation were told by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto that their daughter would likely not survive the ordeal.  The story sparked a lot of discussion as the parents in this case wanted to donate their daughter's organs in case she were to die.  They not only wanted to donate the organs but direct to whom the organs would be donated.  This sparked a lot of controversy.  The whole story had a lot of moving pieces and was a media circus.
Having just had a child receive a transplant, and hearing about this story on the radio, I sent an email to your show. I was concerned about some parts of the story that did not seem consistent with the experience we had just been through.  Organ donation is an extremely important issue to me and my family and I felt there needed to be a better understanding of the organ donation process.  I still believe that to this day.
After sending my email, your producer contacted me and I found myself being interviewed on your program.  There wasn't a lot of time to prepare for this interview.  I still recall talking to you on the phone just prior to the interview and during commercial breaks.  I remember you checking with me to see if everything was "OK".  I was impressed that you were concerned about the direction the interview was going and that "our" story was being treated with respect.  It was a very positive experience.
It was on your show that I shared our family's transplant story for the first time in public.  I knew our story was rather unique but I did not realize until after I was on your program that I could positively impact others by sharing our experiences in a public way.  Since that radio interview in 2009, I have shared our story many times and I have become a relentless voice and promoter of patient and family centred care and an advocate for better health care.  My volunteer life has in many ways taken over my professional life.  I am on numerous boards and committees and have been exposed to some of the most brilliant people in health care.  It has been an amazing journey.  I have spoken at medical conferences, been interviewed on several occasions, and written a few op-eds.  I couldn't have ever imagined doing these things a few years ago.
Being on your show 7 years ago was not a life changing event but it certainly did start something.  Your show, and the topic you were discussing, prompted me to write an angry email and you were crazy enough to put me on the air.  Two crazy people trying to make a point and attempting to make things a little better in this world.  Your words do impact people, and although we may not agree on everything; you have on many occasions forced me and many of your listeners to think.  That is a great legacy.
Thanks for the memories, good luck in the future and God Bless!
Donald Lepp
Lockport, MB

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