Colleen KOHSE

Obituary
  • "You will be deeply missed Colleen , thank you for your..."
    - Monique Lum
  • "Heartfelt condolences to the Kohse Family on the immense..."
    - Patricia
  • "So very sorry to hear about the passing of Colleen. She was..."
    - Maggie McIlwaine
  • "A courageous woman with the courage and compassion of her..."
    - Alan Haig-Brwn
  • "I am one of the nurses from the ambulatory clinic who had..."


KOHSE, Colleen
February 16, 1959 – April 16, 2018
Colleen's life ended in her 59th year in the loving presence of family and friends.
Mourning her passing are her mother Caroline Kohse, brother Dr. Larry Kohse (Rita), nephews Robert and William Kohse, sister Casseda Parsons (Terry), niece Maggie Parsons and many, many friends. Colleen was predeceased by her father (Capt.) Fred Kohse and sister Valerie.
Vancouver was Colleen's home but she was at home wherever she went. Her childhood was full in that she had siblings, school, the usual dynamics of families and friendships and pets galore. Life was challenging in that she was born with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and yet ultimately deeply fulfilling as an adult through her many contributions towards the fight against both CF and Kidney Disease, in support of Organ Donation and as a role model and friend for other patients with similar health issues.
The limitations of CF did not hold her back. When she was sixteen she took up skiing and enjoyed hurtling down the hill at a terrific pace only to break her leg one day going back up on a rope tow. A week later she was proudly posing for photos as a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding hiding her crutches and cast beneath the folds of her gown and being invisibly supported by ushers.
She was the embodiment of a true fighter and in 1988 she made a bold move. With her mother as support, and her friend and CF co-patient Brandy, she travelled to England in hopes of a life-saving heart-lung transplant. Transplant medicine was still in its infancy and survival or recovery was by no means certain, recovery would mean a lifetime of evolving anti-rejection drugs and many physical limitations. Failure however, meant never coming home. Fortunately, her transplant was a success and after almost a year of recovery and loving care by her mother she was able to return to Canada. Sadly, her friend Brandy did not survive her transplant recovery period.
Colleen gave her heart away, literally! As part of her miraculous heart-lung transplant process her own heart was transplanted into another patient. That unknown patient received the heart of a lion! A decade later Colleen once again received another transplant, this time a life-saving kidney. Colleen was always grateful to those good people who signed organ donation cards and donated organs.
Colleen became the longest living heart-lung transplant patient in Canada, if not the world, and she used wisely the 30 extra years her transplants gave her. She mentored, befriended and supported many others with CF, particularly those needing possible transplants. She helped organize the annual CF Foundation Gala to raise funds and awareness and being the gregarious outgoing person that she was brought many supporters into the cause.
One of her more remarkable talents was the ability to synthesize knowledge of medicines and treatments for transplantation, organ rejection, diet and related drug reactions into a body of medical understanding about CF patients she was able to use to prolong her own life and well as those of many others.
Colleen loved travel with friends and family. A recent trip to Italy and France turned into a culinary delight punctuated with an over abundance of ancient churches, museums and art galleries. The trip was one of her and her family's fondest memories.
She lived by the motto "you may not feel great, but always look great!"
On behalf of Colleen and her family we thank the wonderful medical professionals who contributed so much care to Colleen's life.
No flowers by request. Please consider a donation to the fight against Cystic Fibrosis. We also urge you to consent to Organ Donation.
Memorial to be announced.

Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province on Apr. 28, 2018
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