London, Ontario. Transplant recipient prepared for 18-hour swim in Lake Ontario – London


Jillian Best’s big night is only days away.

The resident of London, Ontario is determined to swim 52 kilometers across Lake Ontario this Tuesday, a journey that will take about 18 hours.

“First and foremost, I’m excited,” said Best Mike Stubbs of 980 CFPL on London Live. “A bit of nervousness creeps in, (but) I feel prepared.”

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Best is a transplant recipient and founder of the Move for Life Foundation, which is committed to reducing the organ transplant waiting list.

Every year, one or a group of transplant recipients and living donors take part in an athletic challenge to show that organ transplantation is life changing.

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This year the foundation is raising funds to purchase new organ transplant support equipment for the London Health Sciences Center (LHSC).

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Best accepts her challenge to Lake Ontario and has been training for over a year to prepare for her upcoming trip.

“My longest swim was nine hours, which was 15 miles, or about half the distance of swimming in Lake Ontario,” she said. “There was another weekend where I swam six hours one day and seven hours the next day.”

“But I feel great because I was in the middle of a tough training cycle and was able to do these swimming exercises (still) without setbacks or injuries,” continued Best.

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Part of her training is getting used to swimming in cold water, as parts of the lake “have pockets of colder water, up to 10C, (but) I feel ready for it”.

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If the weather cooperates, Best will go into the water on the night of August 3rd.

Her swim master, who has been monitoring the weather for the past few weeks, will make the final call when she goes into the water.

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“We decide when the best time to jump in the water is the forecasted potential 18 hours it could take me to cross the lake,” said Best Move on Wednesday morning (at 2 or 3 o’clock). “

Best was 15 years old when her mother had a liver transplant in 2004. Best was soon diagnosed with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT).

Her symptoms started developing in her early 20s. In May 2015, she was placed on a waiting list for a transplant and the following year she was transplanted.

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Now the transplant recipient is raising awareness and resources to serve other recipients as well as donors.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched to support Best’s mission and purchase of new equipment for LHSC.

-With files from Mike Stubbs from 980 CFPL

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