Trina Doyle volunteered to be a living donor and went through the surgery in Toronto to remove part of her liver, but it wasn't until she received a letter from the recipient's family that she truly understood how important her decision was.
She recently found out her donation helped save a young child's life, and speaking about that letter from the family makes her emotional.
"It was a very overwhelming letter to read," said Doyle.
"It was like I had found out for the first time what I had done."
Family 'shattered' by child's liver disease
The donor program is anonymous, but allows both recipient and donor to exchange letters if they want. No names or specific identifying details are included.
"When they spoke of the child they could only refer to them as 'the child,' they couldn't say if it's a boy or a girl — they couldn't give dates or say where they were from," said Doyle.
Doyle said her recipient was likely a baby.
The family's letter to Doyle said their child was born with liver disease. The child had been suffering since birth and the parents were not a match for the child.
The letter to Doyle said: "we were shattered to know that we were unable to save our child."
"The child had gotten very sick and they were at the last of their resources and their hopes," Doyle said. "It really made me feel like I had helped."
They also said since the transplant the child is now doing well.
Every moment we have with our child is a gift of you. — Family letter
Doyle said the letter also talked about how the child's whites of their eyes were yellow before the transplant, and now they have turned white for the first time.
The letter calls Doyle their hero and says: "every moment we have with our child is a gift of you."
Doyle made full recovery
Doyle went to Toronto General Hospital last year for the surgery. The pandemic delayed some of her follow-up appointments, but she recently had her final check up.
She said she's made a complete recovery.
Her liver has regenerated and regrown to its original size. She said she hopes sharing her story will raise awareness about the need for living donors, and motivate others to sign up.
She said part of her experience was seeing some of the people in need of organ donations waiting in hospital while she was in Toronto.
"Seeing the people who were sick around me and knowing that I'm healthy," she said, "these lives in the hospital, these people waiting, their lives could be saved."
She said if it's possible she would like to be able to meet the family she helped some day.