The CTA National Executive is drawn from across Canada, and Provincial Directors are selected from the each province or greater region that comprise our national body. Board positions are two-year terms and are selected through an application and interview process.
Dave received a kidney transplant on February 18, 1997 (family day) from his older brother Barry. Since then, he has been fortunate to be able to participate in the Gift of Life Games in Kamloops, BC, the first Canadian National Games in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 2000, the 2001 World Transplant Games in Kobe, Japan and the 2002 Canadian, National Games in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Dave keeps active in the gym and runs in local road races. After becoming Regional Director for Alberta early in 2002, he has been busy trying to increase local awareness of organ and tissue donation, as well as planning fundraisers and social gatherings.
Dave recently became involved with a pre-transplant teaching group at the University of Alberta Hospital, which helps patients going on the waiting list understand what they are about to go through, and to let them know that they can pursue a healthy and active lifestyle after a transplant. Dave traveled to Nancy, France and participated in the 2003 World Transplant Games and met up again with all his transplant buddies.
Bianca is a health and wellness specialist and is passionate about helping people achieve their health and fitness goals and to live their best life possible by utilizing holistic principles and an individualized approach. She has extensive experience in sport event planning and management, including serving on the Executive LOC for the 2008 Canadian Transplant Games in Windsor, ON.
Completing a Master’s degree from McGill University in Health and Exercise Psychology, her thesis focused on the behavioural and affective outcomes of motivation for physical activity among transplant recipients. The research program provided insights to transplant recipient’s health related quality of life, and psychological well-being in relation to physical activity.
Surrounded by the transplant community her entire life, as her father is transplant recipient, Bianca has been involved with the CTA and promoting organ donation from a very young age. Bianca is excited to bring her wide range of expertise and multidisciplinary skill set in health and wellness, sport performance, event management, and research to the CTA Board of Directors.
Robert Sallows received a double lung transplant on January 6, 2005. Since having the transplant, he has been active within Alberta and the Southern Alberta Transplant Association raising organ and tissue donation awareness.
Robert has been involved in the implementation of the Calgary Transplant Trot, seeing it grow from 30 people to over 300. He was also consulted in 2013 regarding Alberta Legislature’s Bill 207 “Human Tissue and Organ Donation Amendment Act, 2013”. After passing this bill, Alberta introduced an online organ and tissue donation registry.
Robert has been to four Canadian Transplant Games (Edmonton, Windsor, Calgary, and Moncton), and one World Transplant Games (Göteborg, Sweden).
Mike was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Attended Neil McNeil High School and graduated with a GED from Centennial College.
Mike married his wife Margaret in 1972 and have 2 children Sean and Victoria. Mike and Margaret are also grandparents to Nathan. Sean is married to Laura who were married in Cuba November 11 2011.
He began his career with the LCBO in 1972 in Toronto where he worked in many stores in the east-end of the city. In 1980 he became President of the Ontario Liquor Boards Employees Union. In 1984 he applied for the Managers position in Tavistock and was successful, where he remained until he retired in 2010, due to health problems.
February 10, 2011 Mike received a heart transplant at London Health Sciences Centre University Hospital. He was released from hospital 13 days after surgery.
Mike attended his first Canadian transplant Games in Calgary 2012. He competed in 4 events and brought home 2 gold 1 silver and 1 bronze. He has been active in the Ontario CTA since his release from hospital and is also a member of the LDAA support group in Kitchener. He is also a volunteer with TGLN in Ontario where he travels to local high schools and talks to students about the importance of organ and tissue donation.
He is also very active in his community and is currently Chairperson of the Tavistock Community Health Board.
Neil Folkins has been involved with the Canadian Transplant Association for over 14 years now.
His first involvement started with becoming treasurer for the Alberta region and then becoming Membership Director for the national board.
He has been to several national games and world games, most recently in Sweden.
He is also involved with the local community league, which he is now vice president, and has maintained his role as treasurer in a local badminton group now for 25 years.
Neil is now coming up on his 16th year post transplant, after having received 2 liver transplants.
Niva is highly involved with volunteerism at the local, regional, provincial, and national level. CTA and organ donor awareness are among the many organizations and causes she takes part in, but it is perhaps closest to her heart. Her husband is a 3-time kidney recipient and she has seen the value of organ donation through her family life. She is also a CTA Ontario division representative, and leads the Windsor-Essex Gift of Life Association.
After serving as the Canadian Team Manager in Nancy, France in 2003, Niva had the vision to bring the Canadian Transplant Games to Windsor in 2008. She continues to take on leadership roles in many major sport events including International Children’s Games, Ontario Summer Games, FINA World Championships, and the Memorial Cup.
Margaret Benson received her “Gift of Life,” a double lung transplant, Dec. 1999. Since then she has promoted organ donation and transplantation through many programs endorsed by BC Transplant (BCT) and the Canadian Transplant Association. (CTA) Through the BCT’s school committee, she draws on her skills as a teacher and has spoken to thousands of students, administrators and counselors about the significance of organ donation.
Margaret is actively involved in athletics to help promote the importance of fitness to transplant recipients and to honour her donor. She’s participated successfully in five World Transplant Games and especially enjoyed the most recent games in Durban, South Africa, where she was honoured to be the flag bearer for Canada. Since her transplant, Margaret has discovered many new athletic passions such as; race walking, running, dragon boating, rowing, snowshoeing and her favourite, Zumba. She became a Zumba instructor in 2012 and loves sharing her passion of dancing combined with exercising, with others. In 2012 and 2013, Margaret and the Vancouver group of BC CTA hosted the Transplant Trot. Both events were extremely successful with over 400 people in attendance in 2013. The BC CTA hopes to have the event grow bigger every year,
Teaching is her life and her true joy. Margaret returned to her dream job of teaching a few years ago, but after careful consideration she decided last year to take a year or two off to explore other options. She still volunteers at her elementary school teaching Zumba. Margaret suggests to everyone, that if you love what you do, then you will be happy.
Margaret remains on the CTA board as the BC representative, a position she has held since 2005. Margaret continues to encourage people from all across Canada to join forces to promote organ donation, to honour donors and donor families and to prove Organ Donation Works.
Hirde Paul Singh had no direct connection with transplant when he started volunteering at Calgary’s Peter Lougheed Hospital in 2012. While volunteering, he realized there is a long waiting list for patients for organs and tissue in Alberta. He chose to focus on this important issue and got connected with the Southern Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Program at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre. Upon his request, Alberta Health Services printed organ and tissue donation information brochures in numerous languages for distribution. Hirde Paul Singh has enlightened numerous ethnic communities about organ and tissue donation, breaking down language barriers and facilitating education about its importance.
In 2015 and 2016, Hirde Paul Singh organized Calgary’s National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week walk also raising thousands of dollars in funding for continued Canadian Transplant Association awareness. He has received a serious commitment from over twenty South Asian organizations to continue with awareness raising in Alberta thanks to his restless efforts.
Ken is a Heart/Double Lung transplant recipient, and received his gift of life on June 3, 2015. He has participated in Canadian Transplant Games. Ken feels that the position of provincial director is of great importance to get message out that organ donation works. Manitoba has the lowest donor registration in the country and the CTA Manitoba group is small, but continues to grow.
Sandra Holdsworth received a liver transplant in February 1997 due to Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis and has since become an advocate for organ & tissue donation. She previously held a position on the National Board from 1999-2001 and has been actively involved with the Ontario Executive since 1998.
Sandra has devoted much of her time to promoting this important cause and has attended every Canadian Transplant Games to date, 7 World Transplant as well has attended 6 American Transplant Games.
Sandra is one of three patient co-leads in Canada for the CNTRP (Canadian Transplant Research Program as well as a founding committee member of CanRestore. Sandra is also a member of Canadian Blood Services' Regional Liaison Committee and volunteer. Sandra also volunteers for Trillium Gift of Life Network, and was the 2015 Recipient of their Champion Award, The Canadian Liver Foundation and is a mentor for the Toronto General Hospital Liver Mentor Program.
Sandra lives in Muskoka and founded the Muskoka Gift of Life Association and Simcoe County Gift of Life Association.
Saint John NB
Born and raised in Saint John NB, Kristen was diagnosed with a rare liver disease; Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis when she was 23 years old and busy working her way up the corporate ladder after finishing her Bachelor’s degree from UNBSJ. Kristen was going in for a routine gallbladder removal, and came out with a diagnosis that would change the direction of her life forever.
Kristen is an avid traveler, enjoys spending time on the water in her kayak and spending time with friends and family and most of all her dog Marley. Kristen’s health was rapidly deteriorating after diagnosis and she was placed on the liver transplant list at age 26. After a long, tired wait of almost 18 months, she received her life saving transplant the summer of 2011, and has recovered well with few complications. During that time though she did not just stand by, she realized the need for a local chapter in New Brunswick of the Canadian Liver Foundation and went on to establish the local chapter, Board of Directors and host special events all while waiting for a transplant.
For Kristen life is now full of new beginnings and she honors her donor in the best way possible by living each day to the fullest, “thanking them for giving her a tomorrow.” She is currently with the Foundation Director at the Loch Lomond Villa in Saint John, raising funds in support of the long term care home offering various levels of care and support to senior citizens in the community.
Kristen admits that if not for her life taking this path, she may never have found her passion for volunteering, fundraising and working for such worthwhile non-profits as the Canadian Transplant Association. Kristen is looking forward to participating in her first World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain in June 2017.
St. John's, NL
Heather has a Bachelor's and a Masters of Social Work and is currently completing a Doctorate of Social Sciences at Royal Roads University in Victoria BC. Heather's dissertation will focus on patients who have to relocate to access medical care that is not available in their home province. The patient population that she is focusing on is transplant patients.
Heather became involved in the transplant community in 2012, when her husband (Jamie) experienced heart failure and they traveled to Toronto for treatment that was not available in Newfoundland. It was during this trip that the possibility of transplant was first raised. In 2014, Heather and Jamie relocated to Toronto for transplant assessment. In 2016 Jamie was placed on the transplant list and received the call for his gift of life in 2017. Sadly, the transplant surgery was not successful and Jamie passed away.
After experiencing the challenges and stressors of waiting for an organ (especially if you have to relocate to wait), Heather decided to take action. She became involved in agencies that supported patients who had to travel to access care, such as Hope Air and the Ronald McDonald House and also helped raise funds for the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre where Jamie was a patient.
Heather became involved with the CTA when she volunteered at the Canadian Transplant Games in Toronto. Heather is excited to share her experience as a patient caregiver, an advocate, a researcher and as a donor family - as she was able to provide the gift of life to someone else through Jamie's passing.