Nova (1974–…): Season 45, Episode 8 - Transplanting Hope - full transcript

A look at transplanting organs; organ donation/availability and the scientific solutions being developed.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
A newborn infant
with a defective heart.

Uh, the coordinator was called.

A transplant is her only hope.

It's terrifying.

It's just something
we've got to do.

We love her

and just want her to have the
best life she can possibly have.

A heart is found
that can save her.

But it's hundreds of miles away.

It's a desperate race
against time.

No heart yet?

An organ shortage

means thousands of patients wait
for months,

even years.

We're desperately short
of organ donors.

A quarter of our patients
will die.

Waiting for a transplant.

If she doesn't get this now,

within three months, I don't
think she would be here anyway.

So that's how critical it is.

Can scientists find
new solutions

to the organ crisis?

What we're talking about

is having off-the-shelf tissues.

That's awesome.

Courageous families
face wrenching decisions.

Our whole world has been turned
upside down.

In a matter of moments,
our life changed.

Everybody pray.

This is the loss of their son.

So if we can have, like,
five seconds of silence

to just remember the gift that
this family is willing to give

through their son.

And critically ill patients
get a new chance at life.

It's exciting.

You know,
that's what transplant's about.

And of course it, you know,
saves lives.

It transforms lives.

It's a wonderful privilege
to be part of that.

"Transplanting Hope,"

right now, on "NOVA."

Major funding for "NOVA"
is provided by the following:

A former builder of sets
for films and television,

Lee Sanderson is struggling
for life.

His lungs are fatally scarred

from exposure to toxic chemicals
at his job.

His only hope
is a lung transplant.

In another part of the hospital,

Alex Reyda has suffered
a fatal brain aneurysm.

He's a 25-year-old.


Ruptured A.B.M.

But before Alex is removed
from life support,

he has one last gift to give.

Heart, liver, lungs,
kidney, pancreas,

and then a single kidney.

Alex is an organ donor.

We'd like to take a moment

to thank Alexander for his gift

and for the family
for consenting on his behalf.

A moment of silence, please.

Hey, Lee, how are you?


So, um...

Good news for you.

There is a donor.


So I think I warned you
it would happen pretty quickly.

Is everyone okay to go ahead?

Mm-hmm, yes.

Thank you.

The next time I see you,
you have new lungs,

you're in the I.C.U., okay?

Okay, pancreas is coming out.


A donor like Alex can
potentially give eight organs

and save eight lives.

Lee got his new lungs
from a different donor.

Three days after his transplant,

they're ready to breathe
on their own.

Deep breath... nice, slow,
deep breaths, remember?

Okay, you ready?

One, two, three.

Nice deep breath in.

Cough it all out for me.

Keep coughing.

Cough it out, honey.
Keep coughing.

Lee, can you say hi?

Hi, honey.

Lee received his new lungs
in Canada.

In the United States,

there are 116,000 people waiting
for transplants.

Another name is added
to the list

every ten minutes.

And 20 people die each day

because they don't get
the organs they need.

Canada's population
is much smaller,

but organ donation here
is less common,

so the shortage
is just as critical.

Organ donation,
relatively speaking,

it's not a big volume
of patients

that we're talking about
in the country.

And although it's
a relatively rare event,

it is such
an important impact event,

because we know
that organ donors

can save many, many lives.

The stakes are never higher

than when a newborn needs
a transplant.

Harlow Bergen
is just two weeks old.

She was born
with a fatal heart defect.

Only a transplant can save her.

But for infants,

donated hearts
are extremely rare.

And even if she gets
a transplant,

Harlow could face
lifelong health problems,

starting with the possibility

that her body might reject
the new heart.

I think we all agree that
transplant for sure

gives her the best chance
to lead as close as possible

to normal life.

You do know, however, too,

that it's not going to be
a walk in the park.

It is exchanging
a life-threatening situation

in which she is now,

with kind of a chronic disease,

or chronic abnormality.

So you know that
she will, lifelong,

depend on taking medications.

And in children
that are immune-suppressed,

that can cause a lymphoma,

which is basically
a type of leukemia,

and that's not that uncommon.

But I think it's in all fairness

for you to be aware of that
as a possible option.

But also be aware that 90%
of our kids

do really, really well.

Yeah, you think

about going through
the whole heart transplant

and then maybe later on
dealing with cancer

or something like that.

It's terrifying.

It's just something
we've got to do.

We love her and just want her

to have the best life
she can possibly have,


I don't know
if we really have many options

at this point.

Good morning.

All across Canada,

organ donation teams
will now be on alert

for a heart for Harlow.



Watch your pulmonal bleed.


Karen Elgert
is overseeing the search.

Pulmonal bleed gone.

Yup, on, in.


Karen is a nurse with HOPE,

the hospital's
Human Organ Procurement team.

Once a family decides to donate,

she coordinates
the whole process.

So it's gonna be...
Okay, O.R. six.

O.R. six, yeah.

Wonderful, thank you, Chris.

Karen is in constant contact

with hospitals
across the country.

She's the first to know
when organs become available.

So I'm actually calling you
with, um, a heart offer.


Blood type is O-positive.

It's an infant heart,
and it was found quickly.

The Bergens have only had
to wait for two weeks.

I guess you can kind of
guess what's going on,

if we're coming
with the big team.

So we actually do have, um,
an organ for her...

A little bit smaller child
than her.

It's gonna be sometime tonight,

coming out sometime
tomorrow morning.

So just wanted to give you
a heads up.

We're pretty happy
about it, too.

I think it's actually
the perfect time,

and it is a very good organ.

Hi, buddy.

Guess what?

Harlow's gonna get a new heart.


Yeah, say "yay!"

I prayed for it all week
that it would happen this week.

As Judy and Jason brace

for a long night of waiting,

a massive effort gets under way

to retrieve the heart
for Harlow.

Now that Karen knows
the heart is a match,

she and a team
of retrieval surgeons

spring into action.

So we are now en route.

They charter a jet

and take off for a hospital

on the other side
of the country,

where a dying baby
is on life support.

The donated heart must maintain
its oxygen supply

and keep beating
until the last possible second.

From the time
the heart is stopped

till the time
that it's beating again

in the recipient,

there's a very finite time,

which is, like, for adults
about four hours,

and then for peds,

they may be upwards
of six or seven.

They don't like that,

but sometimes
you have no choice.

Hi, yes.

Yeah, hi, Dr. Rebeyka.

What's going on?

So the heart looks good.


And our E.T.A.
is about 2:30 to 3:00.

Once Karen gives
the green light,

Harlow's surgeons prepare.

Just before 3:00 a.m.,
she's wheeled in.

The retrieval team must be close
before Harlow is put to sleep,

but she must be ready
for transplant

as soon as the heart arrives.

Every minute
the new heart lacks oxygen

comes at a cost.

They landed.


Surgeon Ivan Rebeyka

has been in contact with Karen
all night

to calculate the perfect moment
to open Harlow's chest.

The coordinator was called.

No heart yet?

Just as the new heart enters
the operating room,

Harlow's damaged heart
is removed.

Let's see the new heart.


Okay, are the lungs on?

They are.

Let's have a look here.

Let's just have a little peek,

'cause that left atrial line
is a little bit fussy.

Pull it back a smidge.

Okay, that looks good.

Okay, start hemoing.

So heart's on its own now.

It's a good heart, it just,
it came from a long ways away,

so it was in the bucket there

for, like,
five and a half hours, huh?

You know, this one,
this started up, like,

within two minutes of us
taking that clamp off,

and that's usually
a pretty good sign.


Mr. Bergen,
we haven't met.

I'm Dr. Rebeyka...
How are you?

Good, yourself?

So we're all done.

Everything went very, very well.

So, um, heart's working
on its own now.

It's a bit early to relax

but things look pretty good,

so I think we're in good shape.


Thank you.

Thank you.

I'll talk to you later, folks.

Because their immune systems
are still developing,

babies generally have
fewer problems with rejection

than adults.

But Harlow will still have
to take anti-rejection drugs

all her life.

And she could end up needing
a second transplant

if anything goes wrong

as she and her new heart grow.

One floor away,

another surgical team is rushing

to salvage what they can
after an organ donor's death.

17 years to go through
your undergrad for a few years,

and then going into
medical school for four years,

then doing your residency,
which is a minimum of six years,

but during mine
and Dr. Freed's,

we both did a Ph.D.
during our residency.

That's 17 years after
you graduate from high school

before you start working.

So I truly mean it,
and I feel very privileged

to say that I trained
my whole life for today.

Doesn't matter if we're gonna
get a little less sleep today,

it's a big day for the team.

These surgeons

are retrieving multiple organs
from a brain-dead donor.


These are some
of the nicest lungs

I've ever seen in my whole life.

They're absolutely spectacular.

They're as good
as they could ever be,

and it would've been
such a shame

had we not been able to use it.

One in three of our patients
waiting for lung transplants

don't survive to getting one,

and that's why
there's no give up.

It's just fight to
the very end for us

every time we get a chance.

This donor's kidneys, liver,
and lungs

are successfully retrieved.

But tragically,
the heart cannot be used.

Trapped too long in the chest
without oxygen,

the heart tissue has died.

More than 60%
of all donated hearts

are not actually used
for transplants

because too much time goes by
after a donor's death.

But a new experiment
might offer hope

that some of these hearts
could stay viable

for a longer window.

It's called ex vivo technology,

a way of keeping organs alive
outside the body.

You want to start
the insulin soon?

Jayan Nagendran and Darren Freed
have invented a machine

that keeps a heart warm
and oxygenated

instead of storing it on ice.

This could give doctors
more time

to use it for transplant.

They've had some success
experimenting with lungs.

This is the first time

they're trying to bring
a discarded heart back to life.

Did you guys see that?
The heart beat?

Did you see that?

The heart is an amazing organ.

You give it blood,
and it will beat.

It's absolutely amazing.

You actually don't have
to do anything.

Look at that.

But after pumping
for just a few minutes,

a blood clot
makes the heart seize up.

You've lost it for sure.

Oh, yeah, I just saw it go down.

So this is our problem, right?

We should,
we shouldn't have clots.

That clot.

And so this has plugged up
the tubing

and the pumps and everything.

We're very meticulous
about anticoagulation

to make sure
that this doesn't happen.

The heart is filling up
with clot,

instead of heparinized blood
or thinned blood.

For the first, the first time
we do this,

to lose it this way
is, you know, devastating.

It's incredibly frustrating.

This was still
an important first step

even though it,
it didn't go to fruition.

Even though it went down
in flames.


The doctors can't hide
their disappointment.

They'll study this failure

to help refine the technology.

And if they eventually perfect
a technique to save more organs,

it could change the odds
for thousands of patients.

The fascinating thing
about these ex vivo technologies

is that organs that otherwise
were not transplantable

can now be removed and repaired,

and so that means

that you can use
perhaps many more organs

that previously
you couldn't use before.

So I think the potential is

There's no reason

why you can't envision a future

where, if I have a failed lung,

maybe I need my organ taken out
of my body,

repaired outside of my body,

and then transplanted
back into my body...

So I can be my own donor.

Until that day comes,

the essence of
transplant medicine remains.

Saving lives always means
losing someone

who is precious to a family.

In intensive care,
it is routine for us

to work at the junction
of life-saving treatments

and the potential
for people to die.

And our job with families

is to recognize
when there is no longer anything

that we can do
to save that person's life.

We've exhausted
all possibilities.

Jesus, please, Jesus,
help my son.

Please bring him back to me.

Dear Lord Jesus, help my son.

I'll do anything,
I'll do anything, Jesus.

I'll do anything.

I'll do anything, Jesus.

I'll do anything.

28-year-old Matthew Babchishin

is in intensive care
with a serious brain injury.

Oh, boy.

You're such a giving man.

You're so giving, Matthew.

I know you can do it,

I know you can fight.

Our whole world has been turned
upside down.

Our whole world.

We were such a content family
and just...

We just felt so lucky.

And then bang.

In a matter of moments,
our life changed.

What I'll need is...

For three days, doctors
have been searching for any sign

that Matthew's brain
is still functioning.

This is a very scary day for us.

We do know
we were told 72 hours.

We do know these tests are going
to show a lot,

give some answers.

I'm very afraid of what
the answers could be.

You may turn
on the light now, Summer.

You're able to,
you can come in if you wish.

I'm just repeating
what we did this morning, okay?

Yes, sir.

You can hold his hand
if you wish.

My son, my beautiful boy.

You're so blessed, Matthew,
you're so blessed.

Yeah, he will be moving.

We just stopped the drug
for the exam, and then...

My blessing, my boy.

I'm just going to put this
in his mouth

to check his gag reflex.

Don't suffer, my boy.

Don't suffer, my boy.

I love you, my son, I love you.

would you like to stay here?

I'm just going out
to the family conference room

to meet with your family.

Would you like to stay here
or join me?

I want to join you
if you're gonna...

Okay, we'll come back.

You have an opportunity
to come back.

So we'll just go out there now.


I've been pacing up and down
these hallways,

and all of a sudden,

it reminded me
of when Matthew was born,

and the similarity
of me pacing that hallway,

and it struck me

how I was waiting
for a birth of Matthew again.

That's what I'm waiting for.

I'm waiting for a birth.

I'm Dr. Kutsogiannis,

I'm the attending intensive care
unit physician

this week here.

I've been caring
for Matt since Monday.

As you're aware,
he had an episode

where his heart stopped
for a prolonged period of time.

It was at least 20 minutes

before he recovered his
blood pressure... Wow.

...when we look at everything
from start to finish.

He's been ill in the I.C.U.,

he's been comatose
in the I.C.U.

I had organized
another special test yesterday

to be done today,

and we know
when we don't receive signal

in the lower part of the brain
on both sides,

that we can tell you
with a very, very high certainty

that he won't recover
meaningful brain function.

Oh, no.

So we're left
at this circumstance

What do you...?

I don't think any family
would want an individual

to be left on life support
in this circumstance,

in the long run.

So what you're also saying,
there is no miracle?

I'm saying
that I can tell you with...

It's done, yeah.
Yeah, pretty good.

We don't want to make an error
in this situation,

because you can understand,
it's someone's life, so...

Yes, I understand what you've...

Well, I think at this stage,

I'd recommend that he,
in the long term...

By that I mean days...
Not stay on life support,

because we're really
prolonging the dying process.

Les, what do you think?


I just want to be
by Matthew's side.

Now I know I'm saying goodbye.

He's such a special boy.

I personally would like it
the sooner the better,

because I don't want him to be

in this comatose state.

All I want to do is hold my boy

for the last couple of days
or hours that I have.

I have one more thing
that I want to discuss.

Yeah, mm-hmm.

It's an obligation
on my part by law, too.

Mm-hmm, I know what
you're gonna talk about.


And that is the issue
of organ and tissue donation.

But it's an introduction
to that,

to think about, to discuss,

and we can have
another discussion tomorrow

regarding that.

I love you.

- Thank you.
- You're welcome.

I love you so much.

I love you, Matthew,
I love you so much, Matthew.

I love you so much.

For Matthew's family,
this is the end of hope.

And in the face of their loss,

they must make
a profound decision.

There's a narrow window of time

to decide whether part of him

could save the life
of someone else.

Surgeon James Shapiro
understands the urgency.

Many of his patients are dying
on the transplant wait list.

Hello, David...
Morning, how are you?

Oh, still pretty sore.

You probably want some Creon.

- Good morning.
- Morning, sir.

He didn't get dialyzed
over the weekend?

Yesterday they didn't send
him out to do it. Okay.

You might need to go back
to the dialysis again

a little but after the surgery,
it's always a possibility.

We'll see you later.

We're desperately short
of organ donors.

A quarter of our patients will
die waiting for a transplant.

Some of them will wait years
for a transplant,

in certain blood groups.

Some of them will go straight,
you know,

close to the top of the list,

because they're so sick.

Many people will die waiting

because an organ doesn't come
in time.

The shortage of organs

means many patients get sicker
and sicker as they wait.

You all ready for your big day?



Scared, but all ready.

That's normal.

Pat Fisher is in
end-stage liver failure.

It's gonna be a good day.



She's been waiting for weeks...

And finally,
there's a matching donor.

But by now, Pat is very weak.

This will make her transplant
even riskier.


The end result would be,

if she doesn't get this now,

within three months, I don't
think she would be here anyway.

So that's how critical it is.

It was a very tight timeline
for her.

She has what we call
a high meld score,

which means that the liver's
been very diseased,

very scarred,
lot of pressure in the veins,

lot of risk of bleeding.

This is big surgery.

This isn't just routine.

There's nothing routine
about this.

I'm so scared.

Don't always get
a second chance.

This is it,
this is your second chance.

We've just clamped
the major vein for the liver,

the vena cava.

So we're about
to cut the liver out.

All right,
so here comes the liver.

Can you see how horribly
diseased this liver is?

It really is,
it's horrible, yeah?

So actually, she required
a little bit of resuscitation.


With a patient
as fragile as Pat,

the surgeons are working
at the limits of medicine.

You can't say
that it's definitive

that she's gonna be all right,

There could be lots of problems,

and the end result of
some of them is death, right?

So it's not fair,

but these things happen in life,
and that's the way it is.

And it's go salad bowl,
three, two, one, in we go.

Now the liver enters the field.

As expected,
Pat's transplant is difficult.

It takes the entire night
to complete.

So we're ready to unclamp
in about 30 seconds, Tim.

All right.

When you watch a new organ
come to life like this,

the patient's own blood
fills the organ

and it starts to function,

it never fails to, you know,
give me some thrill.

It still, still gives me a kick,
even now.

Good job.

Somebody has end-stage
liver disease

at one moment,

you release the clamps

and now they suddenly have
a new chance at life again.

It's exciting, you know,

and that's what transplant's

And of course, it, you know,
saves lives,

it helps people,
transforms lives.

It's a, it's a...

wonderful privilege to be
part of that.

Pat's new liver begins working
right away,

but she has many other

including a series
of life-threatening infections

that are resistant
to antibiotics.

It takes four months

of round-the-clock
intensive care

before she's finally well enough
to move to a regular ward.

Oh, is this Dr. Shapiro?

It is.

Oh, hello.

Pat, how are you?


Very nice to see you again.

I'll come in to shake your hand
in a second.

Been a long haul, hasn't it?

Too long.

Yeah, but I did it.

You really did.

Difficult transplant.

You were very, very, very sick.

Yeah, and this liver's
worked very well for you.

When you set on a journey
with transplant,

you're taking an organ
that can save somebody's life.

And once you've made
that commitment,

you've got to make sure
that you do everything possible

to get a successful outcome.

Others will approach you
and say, "This is hopeless."

"You've been here
for three months now,

"we're making no headway,

we should just pull the plug
and let the person die."

But we've got to think more

than how much is
a person's life worth

and how much to give,
how much not to give.

You've got to think
about the value of the organ.

You have a huge responsibility

to the organ donor family
and to the organ

to do what it's meant to do,

which is to save a life.

Very lovely to see you, Pat.

Yeah, it's nice to have met you.

My lifesaver.
Well, likewise,

it's been a pleasure
to look after you...

Great pleasure
to look after you.

Have a hug.

There we go.

All right.

Good luck in rehab.

Keep your spirits up.

Lovely to see you, Pat.

Okay, bye-bye.

Despite her struggles,

Pat is still
one of the lucky ones.

Hundreds of people die in Canada
each year

waiting for transplants,

and thousands
in the United States.

At the Texas Heart Institute
in Houston,

Doris Taylor and her team
are taking a new approach

to addressing
the organ shortage.

Let's try the light on this one

and see if we can get
a good image

of the vasculature.


As the number of people
who need organs goes up,

the number of donors
has plateaued.

What that means is,
we had to find new solutions.

The new solutions
they're working on

start with donated organs that
are not suitable for transplant.

We take an organ,
a cadaveric organ

that couldn't otherwise be used
for transplant.

And we strip that organ
of its cells

by using a detergent
or other solution

to basically wash those cells

out of the existing
organ scaffold.

And what's left is what we call
the extracellular matrix.

When you wash the cells out,

what you have left is
that underlying framework

where the cells sit

that looks like heart,
looks like a liver,

looks like a kidney,

because it is a heart,
a kidney, a liver framework.

Building a new organ starts
with stem cells

that could come
from a patient's own body.

Stem cells are simply cells
that can do two things.

They can make more of
themselves, self-renew,

and they can differentiate

or become different kinds
of cells.

It's good, there are no clumps.

- No clumps?
- No.

No clumps and lots of cells.

I'm excited.

The stem cells they're using

don't yet have
a specific function,

but when they're infused
into the organ framework,

an amazing thing happens.

Those stem cells
seem to get cues

from that matrix

about where to go
and what to become.

There are biologic cues in there

that say, "Oh, I should be
a muscle cell here."

"I should be a blood vessel

I should be an artery here
and a vein here."

And we can put cells in

and have them migrate
to the right place.

But getting stem cells
to the right place

is only the first step.

The real question is,
"Will the organs work?"

Can they build a heart

that will actually pump blood
and beat?


Each heart spends several days
in a special incubator

that mimics
the body's natural environment.

Too close... here, I'll...

Then the heart is removed
from the incubator

and a flow of nutrients is
pumped through it

to see if it will beat.

You can see the vessels.

That's gorgeous.

And what's beautiful is,

you can see that there's
actually even blood flowing

to the coronaries.

There's an air embolus,

but, I mean, you can see it.

That's awesome.

It feels really good.

Yeah, yeah.

When you could take that heart,

take cells that you were growing
in the lab

and transplant them back in
and have them beat again,

that was one
of the "wow" moments in my life.

Good, good.

Turn it just...


Yes, nice.

Everything that
could have gone wrong didn't.

It was, it was just...

a home run.

These hearts are not yet ready

for human transplant.

But Taylor believes

organs by design
could someday save the lives

of thousands of patients.

This one's still under way,

Her team is also experimenting

with building lungs, livers,
and kidneys.

What we're talking about

is potentially having
off-the-shelf tissues.

They're, they're two pieces
to that that are revolutionary.

One, we can potentially build
an organ.

Two, we can build an organ
that matches their body,

because as you know,
when you get a transplant,

you're essentially trading
your original disease

for another disease,

which is fighting rejection
for the rest of your life.

I'll be happy when we do
our first clinical trial.

I'll be happier
when there are enough organs

for patients who need them.

Research like Taylor's

could transform
transplant medicine.

But for many patients,

these advances
will come too late.

I came here for a two-hour
doctor's appointment.

Been here ever since.

Waiting sucks.

Eight months ago,

Willis Wood's heart
began to fail.

As he waits for a donor,

he's being kept alive
by an external pump

that circulates his blood.

There have been no matches.

And his doctor knows
time is running out.

I need really big breaths
this time.

So you're probably
the highest-status person

in Alberta right now. Yeah?

You're a big guy and this is
why it's become difficult.

The organs that I've seen
that have come in

are about 60 to 70 kilos.

That's, like, 60 pounds smaller.

That's a small child, right?


So if there's an organ
for a heart

that's anywhere
between 80 to 90,

Dr. Mullen in Edmonton
and Dr. Kim have agreed

that we will go ahead and do it

if it's a perfect match otherwise.

He's on call for the weekend,

I'm on call for the weekend,

so if we get a heart...
I'm on call for the weekend.

You're on...
I know, you're always on call.

And I'll be here
the whole weekend,

so I'll keep you updated
every day, okay?

Anything else
I can help you with?

Find me a heart.

I'm on it.

Okay, talk to you later.

Okay, thank you, sir.

There just aren't
many donor hearts

large enough for Willis.

But if he gets any weaker,
he won't survive a transplant.

I have grandchildren.

That's what it really means
to me.


I want to get out
and do things with them.

And I'm willing to fight
for that.

If it was just for me,
I'd have probably gave up.


I want to be there
for my grandkids.

Meanwhile, Matthew Babchishin
is still on life support.

Scott Gordon from the HOPE team

has come to discuss
his family's decision

about organ donation.

Thank you for coming.


I'm sorry that...
I mean...


These are all the have-tos
in life

that you never prepare yourself
for, right?

If we could do any good,
Matthew would want that.

Matthew was born here,

and it's kind of sad

that he started his life
and finished his life

in this hospital.

We were so proud
that he was born here.

So we have all agreed
that we will...

Matthew's organs are to...
it will be donated.

That is a given. Which are
listed as, like you said...

Yeah, I can go through
all that specifically.


When it comes to the tissue,

we did not realize
part of the skin part

was, to the degree.

And we did not realize
the need for it

at the same time.

I just want to donate
the organs,

and I'm not comfortable
with the tissue at all.

I know it would be going
against Matthew's wishes.

I'm not comfortable
with it, either.

I want to keep that intact.

I've had Matthew taken from me,

he's giving his organs,

he's lost his life.

I'm just going for how I feel.

Can we just...
let's move forward, okay?

We're moving too slowly for me,
I need...

Let's, let's, let's move

You know, let's, we're being
all this delicate,

and I need to get to my son,
let's move forward.

Let's do it.

Just do it.

Given the person
that we know Matthew was,

we would know that this is what
he would have wanted.

He would have done it
without hesitation.


Oh, my God, oh, my God.

Oh, Matthew,

you should be filling out
that form for me.

Why did I have to fill that out
for you?

Karen speaking.

Hi, Karen.

Hi, Ali.

We're trying to rush this
as quickly as possible.

This is a 28-year-old male,

84 centimeters
and 101 kilograms.

Matthew's death
is just hours away.

A huge effort has begun
to save his organs,

and a handful of people
across Canada

have just gotten the call
that could save their lives.

I need to talk to Darren.

Do you want me to page him?

Yeah, I need to page him.

Before Matthew's life support
is withdrawn,

surgical teams and transplant
recipients all over the country

must be ready.

Delays are inevitable.

Oh, no, this is so unfair.

This is so unfair.

The O.R. has delayed.

They would like to delay
for one hour.

Just a second.


I wonder...

Can I call you
at a different phone, Darren?

I want to wake up
from this nightmare.

I want to wake up
from this nightmare.

Oh, my son.

Oh, my God.

Oh, my God.

Two floors away,

the operating room
is getting ready.

This has been an incredibly
stressful time for everyone,

because it's been so busy,

but this is a loss of their son,

and it's been really,
really hard on them,

and as always,
it's so totally unexpected.

So if we can have, like,
five seconds of silence

to just remember the gift
that this family

is willing to give
through their son.

So they're gonna withdraw life
support, like, any minute now.

Okay, what I will need from you
in sequence

is the scalpel, the skin knife,

and the saw coulee.

Asystole 20:06.

Go, Matthew...
Go save some lives, Matthew.

Go do it, Matthew.

Goodbye, my son.

Bye, Matthew.

Goodbye, my son.

Goodbye, my son.

I will see you again, Matthew.

I'll call you when we're done,

I'll see you again, Matthew.

I love you, bud.

I love you, Matthew.

Goodbye, Matthew.

I love you, Matthew...
I love you!

I love you, Matthew!

I love you, my son.

Okay, so we're going to go in
to the right.

Off the respirator,

Matthew's organs are starved
of oxygen.

Everyone knows
it's now a race against time.

Who's checking the I.D.?


That's all right...
That's all right.

Okay, suction's up.

Dr. White, give me
the skin knife, please.

Skin knife.

Knife moving.


We have found you
a very good heart.

Lots of complications
that can occur along the way.

Yeah, well, infection, bleeding,

Any one of those things
can contribute

to not actually making it
through this whole experience.


I'm raring to go.

I'm ready to start the final leg
of this journey.

The identity of Willis's donor
is unknown to him

and to us.

Matthew's organs went to others.


You know, Matthew is gonna
shine down and just,

just say, "Thank you, Mom
and Dad, for doing this",

and I'm so grateful that you
made this decision for me."

I'm so happy

where they're doing this
for Matt.

It's all for good, for Matt.

Two years after his transplant,

Willis Wood is fully recovered

and playing
with his grandchildren.

Unfortunately, Pat Fisher
continues to struggle

with health issues.

But Harlow Bergen
is a healthy toddler.

Taking people near
to death's door

and eventually seeing them
go back

to leading
an entirely normal life,

we know that can happen
every time we do a transplant.

That's what we see
time and time again,

and that's what's rewarding
for us.

The first thing that
we tell people all the time is,

"Become aware,
and whatever you decide,

"make sure you tell your family,

"because it will be your family

"that will be asked to make
a decision for you

"when you're incapacitated,

and you might die
and become a donor."

Tonight's event is a celebration
in memory of Matthew.

We want you to know that
Matthew was an organ donor.

We knew that he would want
to give this gift of life

to someone who needed it.

An icon of American engineering.

One of the longest single-span
covered bridges in the world...

destroyed in a hurricane.

Oh, my God!

Now an elite team of artisans
and engineers

races to rebuild it

before rising waters
wash it away again.

"Operation: Bridge Rescue,"

next time, on "NOVA."

Major funding for "NOVA"

is provided by the following:

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is available on DVD.

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