About pediatric kidney transplants, flu shots, curried turkey casserole . . .

I wrote earlier this week about Ferris Backmeyer, and you may be wondering how in the world someone who is only 2-1/2 years of age is able to undergo a kidney transplant.

Ferris, who lives in Kamloops with her mother, father and two sisters, has kidney disease. She has been doing peritoneal dialysis at home for 18 months now.

Her mother, Lindsey, recently revealed on Facebook that they have been given the OK to

Ferris
Ferris Backmeyer, 2-1/2 years old, needs a kidney transplant. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

look for a living kidney donor for Ferris.

“We have been told the donor process can take just as long as the transplant workup for Ferris,” Lindsey wrote, “so starting the search now is recommended.”

Obviously, Ferris isn’t going to get a kidney from a three-year-old living donor. So let’s look at a few things . . .

First, from the Kidney Foundation of Canada (kidney.ca):

“A living kidney donation comes most often from a family member such as a parent, child, brother or sister. A donor can also be a spouse, friend or co-worker. Or it can be a stranger. A genetic link between donor and recipient, although beneficial, is not always required. This is largely due to improved anti-rejection medications.

“A good living donor candidate is someone who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and usually less than 70 years of age. They must be in good general health . . .”

So if you are older than 18, you are eligible to be a kidney donor.

While it is preferred that donors be under the age of 70, there are stories of donors who have been older. Health, both physical and mental, plays a huge role in donor eligibility, no matter the age.

When it comes to children, it would seem that having a live donor is the best option.

A 1982 report published in The Journal of Pediatrics reached this conclusion:

“We conclude that because of donor availability, capacity for good donor-recipient matching, and minimization of time on dialysis, transplantation of adult kidneys into pediatric patients is preferable to awaiting the relatively uncommon pediatric cadaver donor. We further conclude that the procedure is warranted.”

Despite the passage of time, it doesn’t seem that there has been any change to that conclusion.

Meanwhile, there is this from webmd.com:

“The reason most hospitals suggest an age minimum of 18 for kidney donors isn’t because a young kidney is too small. Studies have shown that a kidney from a six-year-old is all right to transplant into an adult.

“Instead, the main reason is that people under 18 are minors and can’t legally give their ‘informed consent’ proving that they agree to the procedure. Also, some genetic kidney diseases won’t have started to cause symptoms yet in young children and teenagers, so it’s hard to know if their kidneys may be affected by disease. . . .

“Kidneys from younger donors seem to work better over the long term. But people who get older kidneys are just as likely to be alive five years after a transplant as those who receive younger kidneys. Plus, the chances of complications from the procedure, and of organ rejection — when someone’s immune system attacks their new kidney — are the same with kidneys from all age groups.

“The takeaway from these studies is that kidneys from older donors can work, but younger people in need of a kidney may want to consider being matched with younger donors.”

There also is this, from stanfordchildrens.org: “A child older than age two can generally receive an adult kidney. There is usually enough space in the child’s belly for the new kidney to fit.”


Yes, it is that time of the year, again.

I am married to a woman who had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. That doesn’t mean she has been cured of kidney disease; there isn’t a cure.

Having had a transplant, she must take anti-rejection medications in order to keep her system from rejecting the foreign object that now lives in the lower right side of her abdomen. Some of those medications — she takes them every 12 hours — are immunosuppressants, so her immune system is compromised.

So, yes, I get an annual flu shot. In fact, I got poked on Friday.

You have no idea how many people who are walking around out there have suppressed immune systems or are unable to get a flu shot for medical reasons.

Here is Nicole Basta of the U of Minnesota, the senior author of a study on “herd immunity,” in a story by Lisa Rapaport of Reuters:

“The more people who are vaccinated in a community, the lower the risk that influenza will be able to spread even if the vaccine does not perfectly protect against the disease.

“Influenza spreads by creating chains of transmission whereby one infected person infects additional people and those individuals infect others with whom they come in contact.”

Rapaport’s story is right here.

Flushot





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Vosburgh of Kamloops donates a kidney. . . . Recipient: “She changed my life.”

CherylVosburgh
Cheryl Vosburgh of Kamloops, who knows all about being a living kidney donor, addresses the crowd during the city’s 2019 Kidney Walk. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

To a person experiencing kidney failure, there are a number of advantages to being fortunate enough to get a transplant from a live donor.

From the Kidney Foundation of Canada website:

“The organ donation and transplant surgeries can be scheduled when both the donor and recipient are in the best possible health. This will help to ensure the quality of the donated kidney is at its highest. The amount of time between removing the kidney from the donor and transplanting it into the recipient is shorter than for a deceased donation. This may help the transplanted kidney to function better and/or last longer.

The length of time the recipient waits for an organ to become available is shorter when the organ comes from a living donor. Also, other recipients on the transplant waiting list who do not have a living donor themselves move up the transplant waiting list once the recipient of the living donor kidney is removed from the list. In that way, other people waiting for a kidney transplant also benefit from a living donation.”

There also are some other advantages, as pointed out on the Foundation’s website:

“A transplanted kidney from a living donor often lasts longer. This is partly due to more time being available to do the necessary tests to get a better tissue match between donor and recipient. A better tissue match means higher compatibility and less risk of organ rejection.

The kidney from a living donor is usually healthier than an organ from a deceased donor and may last longer: 15 to 20 years on average, compared to 10 to 15 years for a deceased kidney donation. This is largely because extensive testing is done on the donor to ensure the donor has excellent kidney function.

“A kidney from a living donor usually works right away in the recipient. A kidney from a deceased donor may take days or weeks before it starts to work normally. In the meantime, the recipient may need dialysis treatments.”

And let’s not forget about this: For the donor, it is a very positive psychological experience knowing that he or she has helped someone in need.”

All of which brings us to the story of John Glenn Miller of Vancouver and Cheryl Vosburgh, who lives in Kamloops.

“Two years ago,” writes Cheryl Chan of Postmedia, “John Glenn Miller pushed through his embarrassment and discomfort to make a plea online for a new kidney. Today, he’s a new man — thanks to a priceless gift from a stranger.”

Vosburgh was that stranger.

A story about Miller, who has 12-year-old twin sons, appeared in a Vancouver newspaper in April 2017. He needed a kidney. As he waited and hoped that a match would somehow be found, and while he was on dialysis, Vosburgh made the decision to donate a kidney.

In researching the issue of kidney donation, she came across that 2017 story about Miller. Things worked out and the surgery was performed at Vancouver General Hospital on Aug. 21.

Chan’s story can be found in the tweet that is below.

Vosburgh, 59, lives in Kamloops and attended her first Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathering exactly three weeks after having had surgery. We were an enthralled group as we listened to her tell her story.

She also said that she wants to continue to advocate for organ donation and transplantation. If you are thinking about being a live kidney donor and have any questions, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com and I will get you in touch with Vosburgh.


Dogs
When Kamloops’ 2019 Kidney Walk was held at McDonald Park on Sept. 22, organizers welcomed four-legged walkers, too. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)
Breakfast
Yes, those of us who took part in the 2019 Kidney Walk Kamloops had enough sausages to eat with our breakfast, thanks to the Brock Central Lions Club. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

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ThankYou


Report: There are 3,500 donated kidneys discarded every month in U.S. . . . Survey published in JAMA shows system is badly broken

A reader sent me a link that led me to a story on USA TODAY’s website. I had to read the story a couple of times because I found it so shocking.

Here are the first two paragraphs:

“The United States discards about 3,500 donated kidneys a year, many of which could be used to save lives, new research shows.

“The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, focused on the rate at which donated kidneys were used in the U.S. and France between 2004 and 2014. In that time, the U.S. discarded about 17.9% of the kidneys it recovered, while France discarded about 9.1% of the kidneys it recovered. In all, the U.S. threw away almost 28,000 donated kidneys in that 10-year period.”

Let that sink in for a few minutes. People are dying because they need kidneys and yet donated kidneys are being trashed.

The study was published in JAMA — The Journal of the American Medical Association.

During the time under study, the U.S. recovered 156,089 kidneys from deceased donors and discarded 27,987 (17.9 per cent) of them. In France, 29,984 kidneys were recovered, with 2,732 (9.1 per cent) of them discarded.

According to figures supplied by the National Kidney Foundation, there are almost 100,000 Americans in need of kidney transplants. While 12 people on the waiting list die each day, about 10 kidneys are trashed each day.

Adrianna Rodriguez of USA TODAY wrote:

“The study showed that kidneys discarded in the U.S. were on average about 36 years old, whereas kidneys discarded in France were on average about 50 years old. That means  France had a higher kidney acceptance rate from older donors.

“The study found that the U.S. is more likely than France to throw away kidneys when the donor had hypertension, diabetes, had a heart attack or tested positive for Hepatitis C.”

That story also included this quote from Sumit Mohan, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia U in New York City: “They should definitely be used and are definitely viable. Using kidneys from diabetic donors do remarkably well.”

Rodriguez points out that “the mortality rate for patients who go on dialysis is about 20 per cent annually, which works out to be a five-year survival rate.”

Mohan told Rodriguez: “It’s comparable to some of the worst cancers we see.”

Keep in mind that while some cancers are curable, there isn’t a cure for kidney disease. No, there isn’t.

Mohan added: “People aren’t asking ‘What’s the quality of my kidney?’ The question that everybody asks is, ‘When am I getting my kidney?’ ”

In short, the system in the U.S. is broken. The good news it that there is a move afoot to overhaul the country’s organ transplant regulations. The bad news is that we all know that won’t happen this week or next.

The USA TODAY story is right here and it really is worth a read.

The complete JAMA Internal Medicine study is right here, and it is absolutely devastating if you are an American and at all impacted by kidney disease.

Another reader sent me a link to an editorial in the New York Daily News. The editorial board there writes: “Beggars know they can’t be choosers. Even an imperfect kidney is better than life, and ultimately death, on dialysis. Fix the rules so more Americans can receive the gift of life.” . . . The complete editorial is right here.

All of this hits really close to home. My wife, Dorothy, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. Had we been living in the U.S., the kidney she received likely would have been rejected because it may have failed one of the afore-mentioned qualifiers.

At that point, she had been doing peritoneal dialysis for almost four years.


If you are in the area of Granville Island in Vancouver early in September, you may want to check out this play — Waiting Time — that will be part of the Fringe Theatre Festival.






Stroup family cries tears of joy after organs donated. . . . Daughter had registered two years ago as donor

Folks in Kamloops will gather at McDonald Park on Sept. 22 for the annual Kidney Walk. If you would like to participate, we register at 10 a.m., walk at 11, and have breakfast when it’s all done. The Brock Central Lions Club supplies the breakfast — pancakes, sausage and coffee — by donation.

We held a news conference on Monday at St. Andrews on the Square. If you are curious about how the media saw what we had to announce, here’s a look . . .

Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV filed a video report and wrote a story, both of which are right here.

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John Luke Kieper of KamloopsBCNow was on hand, too, and he posted his story right here.

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Dairai Mutandiro of Kamloops Matters joined us and wrote this piece right here.



Tara Stroup’s daughter, Madeline, was in a coma for seven days after being involved in a car crash in Abbotsford, B.C., on July 26. When the family decided to take Madeline off life support and donate her organs, they discovered that she had registered as a donor. . . . Tara spoke with Estefania Duran of CBC News about the decisions involved and the aftermath. That story is right here.