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Ambassador program provides peer support for transplant recipients, living donors

Program exists at 27 hospitals across Ontario, including Sudbury and Timmins

Posted: March 09, 2022
Last Updated: March 09, 2022

Angela Greene of Sudbury is a living kidney donor. She started volunteering with the Transplant Ambassador Program in 2021. During the pandemic the program has been online, but will return in hospitals once volunteers are allowed back. (Supplied by the Transplant Ambassador Program)

When someone is awaiting an organ transplant or considering being a living donor they may have a lot of questions.

Throughout Ontario, including in Greater Sudbury and Timmins, there are volunteers who can provide answers and peer support.

The Transplant Ambassador Program (TAP) is a network of volunteers at 27 hospitals all across the province, who are either organ recipients or living donors.


The program had been mostly suspended during the pandemic, but is starting to re-launch in hospitals.

Angela Greene donated a kidney to her father in January 2012. Since then she's supported and advocated for organ donations, including volunteering as a Transplant Ambassador at Health Sciences North in Sudbury. (Supplied by Angela Greene)

When Angela Greene of Sudbury was preparing to give one of her kidneys to her father in 2012 she didn't have anyone local she could reach out to.

"I dealt specifically with people on the internet, and London Health Sciences," she said referring to the hospital where they had the successful transplant surgery.

In the past 10 years she has tried to provide help, and support to others who have gone through the same experience she did as a living kidney donor.

Greene has made it known on her social media accounts that she is a living donor, and has been contacted numerous times by people who have questions.

Last year she joined the Transplant Ambassador Program available at Health Sciences North in Sudbury.


"We reach out to people or people reach out to us, and we tell our stories, and try to help people understand that transplant is a good thing, that it makes a difference," Greene said.

Due to COVID-19, the Transplant Ambassador Program has been virtual, but is expected to return to hospitals once volunteers are allowed back.

"To kind of have a smiling face in that area of the hospital; just a welcoming environment for people to come up and talk, if they want to," Greene said, adding that they don't force people into a conversation or offer medical advice. 

"We're there for them to speak to."

Mary Beaucage of North Bay, received a kidney from a living donor, her cousin, in March 2015. She has been very active in advocating for and educating others about organ donation, especially kidney donation. (Supplied by Mary Beaucage)

Being an organ recipient, North Bay's Mary Baucage, formerly of Sudbury, gets asked a lot of questions.


"Pills are probably the biggest thing people ask me about. What kind of medications do you have to take? Is it everyday and is it going to be forever?" she said.

Beaucage was on dialysis when she realized it would be an eight-year wait to get a kidney from a deceased donor. 

"I didn't want to wait that long."

She realized that finding a living donor was an option for her, and so she shared her story for others to read.

"I really wasn't comfortable asking if somebody could donate, but I thought if I put the information out then people could make a decision and it's not an awkward conversation for anybody," she said.

In March 2015, Beaucage received a kidney from her cousin, a living donor. 


Now she works to educate others about organ transplants and organ donation, especially kidney donation.

Beaucage was part of the research project that developed the Transplant Ambassadors Program.

"It's part of a bigger strategy which is to increase living kidney donations across Ontario," she said.

"Sharing our story with people either pre-transplant or pre-dialysis or who are on dialysis already and might be waiting for a transplant. Just to share our stories and our experiences, answer questions," Beaucage added.

The volunteers with the Transplant Ambassadors Program across Ontario come from all different backgrounds: including males and females, Indigenous and those who donated prior to 40.


"A lot of people are afraid to ask questions, and they're afraid to ask for help." - Angela Greene, Transplant Ambassador

There are donors and recipients, including recipients who have been on dialysis, had double transplants and others who have different types of kidney disease.

"It's a broad spectrum so we're there to support both sides," Greene said.

"A lot of people are afraid to ask questions, and they're afraid to ask for help."

Looking back, Greene said she has never regretted donating a kidney to her father, who she says is still in good health and 'living his life'.

"I have had basically a regular life since donating, nothing has changed for me."


Angela Gemmill

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who covers news in Sudbury and northern Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to