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Montreal Children's Hospital doctor given Transplant Quebec lifetime achievement award

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Transplant Quebec has awarded its grand prize to a medical director at the Montreal Children's Hospital.

The prestigious award recognizes the contribution of a medical professional in the field of organ donation and transplantation for at least 10 years.

Dr. Sam Shemie's influence is seen in intensive care units across the country, and his colleagues say his work has advanced the practice of organ donation around the world.

"We're super honoured to have him in Quebec," said Transplant Quebec CEO Martine Bouchard. "I think it's fantastic that we have somebody who's so respected and well known but also possesses all the expertise and knowledge."

Over his more than two-decades-long career, Shemie has published over 200 articles on organ donation and shared his expertise across the globe.

"He made this a life achievement," said Bouchard. "This is like, what do you call it? A vocation for him."

On Thursday, the medical director received Transplant Quebec's grand prize, which is similar to a lifetime achievement award.

He accepted the honour in front of his colleagues and family at the Children's.

"It's been very gratifying," said Shemie.

Medical professionals say there is a complex intersection between dying, death and organ donation in the ICU. After experiencing this firsthand, Shemie built a program to develop the best practices in organ donations after death.

"We have engaged and, collaborated and partnered with a community of doctors, nurses and, specialists and intensive care and emergency medicine to take ownership over something that's very difficult," said Shemie.

The clinician-researcher says he takes pride in the fact that there are now over 150 organ donation-focused intensive care doctors in Canada, and that they provide a research-driven approach while treating patients and their loved ones with compassion.

"We used to learn from other countries when we started this, and now we are teaching other countries how to do this," said Shemie.

He says hospitals are always dedicated to saving lives, but added that anyone interested in donating their heart or kidney, for example, needs to tell their family or register their consent.

"You are saving a life and relieving suffering of other people when you do that, and that's a wonderful thing in our society," said Shemie.

And while Shemie has a new lifetime achievement trophy to put in his office, he says his work is not done yet. 

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