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Madsen Family Organ Donation Story: BeADonor Month

Carole Madsen, a long-time volunteer at SMH as a Patient and Family Advisory Committee member and SMH Foundation Ambassador is sharing her family’s story of how a double-lung transplant saved the life of her husband, Soren.

Amongst the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Soren became unwell, had difficulty breathing and was becoming weaker by the day. Their family doctor referred him to a respirologist and had visits with specialists in Toronto. It was determined that Soren had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disease that causes scarring of the lungs.

As it was getting progressively worse over time, Soren’s life was on the line. A double-lung transplant was the answer to getting his life and overall health back on track.

Due to their proximity to Toronto, Soren was able to be placed on a wait list and was booked for surgery on March 18, 2021.

“We were blown away that he was able to be booked within a matter of months,” says Carole. “Although, we weren’t sure if his body could withstand the surgery as he was becoming so weak,” she adds.

He had several appointments with specialists every week, managed many medications, was having trouble eating, and just walking from one side of the room to the other took so much of his energy. Soren was on oxygen around the clock to get him through the day.

Some of the doctors were worried he wouldn’t be strong enough for surgery, but he received approval to move forward, and the day finally came.

“We got the call at midnight that he was to go for surgery,” says Carole. “They had a set of donated lungs, but they had to go through the process of examining them to ensure they were viable.”

Several hours went by. Unfortunately, it was discovered that they were not.

After a few more hours, good news arrived. Another set was potentially available as it was the right blood type and size. This time, it was determined that they were viable. The double-lung transplant surgery was to take place the next morning.

A double-lung transplant is an eight-to-12-hour procedure. In Soren’s case, one lung was taken out at a time and replaced. The surgery was a success and his recovery even better.

“The nurse said he recovered perfectly, it was just amazing to see,” says Carole. “He was so happy to be alive and do everything he had been wanting to do for a long time, such as eat a proper meal and talk to the family over FaceTime.”

All eight of their grown children and several grandchildren.

“We will never forget the impact that this organ donation had on our family. It saved Soren’s life and all 26 of us are so grateful,” adds Carole.

The Madsen family sent pictures and letters thanking the donor’s family for their generous and life-saving gift.

“I can’t stress enough how important organ and tissue donation is,” says Carole. “We will continue to share our story in hopes that it helps others and inspires them to become donors as well.”

April is BeADonor Month through the Trillium Gift of Life Network. To register to become an organ or tissue donor, or for more information, please visit