Police Chief Saunders and his wife welcomed back after kidney transplant

Hundreds of police and community members gave a standing ovation to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders and his wife, Stacey Saunders, Thursday evening at the annual Chief’s Gala in support of Victim Services Toronto.

The fundraiser was the couple’s first public appearance since his Oct. 2 transplant, when Saunders received a kidney donated by his wife.

The chief addressed the crowd at the end of the evening, thanking Victim Services, the organizers, sponsors, his force, and “my lovely wife for giving me a kidney.”

Saunders said Stacey “has always been my rock” to CTV news prior to the surgery, at which time she said “I was so happy to be his donor, I did put my hand up right away.”

Mayor John Tory told reporters before the dinner Thursday that he was “so thrilled to see (Saunders) back,” and called him a “man of complete integrity.”

“The courage he had, and his wife Stacey, to go through major surgery . . . and be back looking fit as a fiddle I think is fantastic for them both,” Tory said.

The mayor said he was looking forward to seeing Saunders back in his role “very soon.”

The chief spent the early part of the evening mingling with guests, stopping to pose with the Victim Services Toronto Trauma dog, Dandy, and community members.