If you are a regular in these parts, you will be familiar with the Backmeyer family of Kamloops and their four-year-old daughter, Ferris, who is in need of a kidney transplant. Her mother, Lindsey, often shares the trials and tribulations of living with a youngster and the challenges presented by a variety of things, including kidney disease.
But what if your child is a teenager trying to make his way through high school? What if your son has to travel to another community three or four times a week for hemodialysis treatments? How do you deal with the fact that your son had one kidney transplant that didn’t work out?
For starters, you hope and pray that he gets another chance.
That, in a nutshell, is what the Tremblay family of Robson, B.C., is going through as their son and brother, Zach, continues his fight with kidney disease.
His mother, Jana, took to Facebook the other day to provide an update on her boy, who graduated from high school last month. And if you don’t think that’s an accomplishment — getting through high school while dealing with kidney disease, a failed transplant and hemodialysis — you need to back up and think again.
Besides the pandemic, this year didn’t get off to a roaring start for Zach when a clot developed in the fistula that had been implanted in one of his arms to help with the dialysis process.
That, Jana explained, “was extremely painful both physically and emotionally for him. It could not be saved and it was a huge blow for us all, but mostly him.
“It set us all back emotionally, and we decided to just take a step back from it all. Zach then made the decision to stick with his chest catheter and won’t agree to any more surgeries, unless it’s a kidney.”
Those days in the first two or three months of 2021 were wearing.
“He struggled hard with this news and decision and, as a parent, aside from the failed (fistula), it was the hardest thing to watch him go through . . . heartbreaking to say the least,” Jana wrote.
Dealing with kidney disease oftentimes is like riding a rollercoaster. Up . . . down . . . up . . . down. And it’s never easy, especially when you are wanting so badly for there to be a transplant in the near future. And when you’re the mother of a teenager for whom you badly want a kidney, knowing that it would bring him some kind of a ‘normal’ life, well . . . you also watch as your child has to deal with the extra-curricular stuff as well.
“We did our best to push forward and stay positive, but honestly it gets harder and harder,” Jana wrote. “The setbacks are harder to accept, because we feel like he just deserves a break. It’s very hard as an adult to push through and stay positive, but it’s even harder for a kid who faces all of this kidney stuff, plus the social teenage bullshit, and, yes, it’s ABSOLUTE, ignorant bullshit that gets tossed his way as well.”
Going into March, Zach had always dealt with a medical team at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. That all changed with a meeting that month during which they learned that his file was being transferred to “the adult world” at Vancouver General Hospital.
“We were gutted,” Jana wrote, “and I cried and cried . . . 18 years of tears, pain, let downs . . . it all literally poured from my body, and his as well, I’m sure.”
Of course, this transfer meant leaving one comfort zone and moving into an unfamiliar spot and having to start over with new medical people, something that never is easy.
As Jana wrote: “Leaving our team at BCCH is terrifying . . . 18 years of care and trust and faith, and we are leaving empty-handed. It does not feel good.”
But the clouds parted in June, at least for a short time, as Zach graduated from high school in Castlegar.
“Despite many hospital stays over the years, he did it!” Jana wrote. “It was different, of course, with COVID protocols, but our guy made it, and we could not be more proud of him!”
So what’s next for the Tremblays?
Well, Zach and Jana will spend some time in Vancouver next month meeting with the transplant team at VGH “and hopefully push forward towards a transplant for our guy.”
The first half of 2021 wasn’t easy, but, as Jana put it, “we made it, we are here, and so is he.”
And they are determined to focus on the positives and wait to see what “the fresh eyes of a new team will bring” to Zach’s situation.
“We will continue to share his story in hopes of finding a match,” Jana wrote, “and we will continue to advocate for others who are waiting.”
BTW, the Tremblay family all has been “double vaxxed and are super thankful for it!” That’s important for those with kidney disease and compromised immune systems. If you haven’t been vaccinated, please get it done, if not for yourself, for the thousands of people who walk among us with compromised immune systems.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.
Time is everything. This is why we promise registering as an organ donor should only #TakeTwoMinutes. That’s faster than microwave popcorn! #Register2Give