The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon Branch, is gearing up for its 2020 Kidney Walk — Walk the Block virtual celebration on Sunday.
The branch, along with those in Alberta and Saskatchewan, was forced by the pandemic to cancel all of its annual walks and now has put together a virtual walk.
In B.C., Sunday’s event starts at 10 a.m., with hosts Robin Gill, Stephen Gillis and Michael Teigen. Gill is an anchor for Global National, while Gillis is a recent kidney transplant recipient. Teigen was Gillis’s donor.
Stewart Phillip, the Okanagan National Alliance’s Grand Chief, has gone public with his need for a kidney. He outlined his situation in a news release, explaining: ”My kidneys no longer work well enough to keep me alive and continue my lifelong work and passion to advocate for Indigenous Title and Rights and the environment, and to do the things I enjoy most, like spending time with my wonderful wife Joan, our five children and 15 grandchildren, and being out on our territory. My treatment options are limited to dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant, which is why I am reaching out publicly now.” . . . There is more right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of Sunday’s ‘virtual’ walk. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . If you aren’t aware, she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and this is her seventh straight year of supporting the Walk. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.
Our annual Kidney Walk has been turned into a virtual event that will be held on June 7.
Had it gone ahead on schedule in Kamloops on Sept. 23, Dorothy would have taken part for a seventh straight year since her transplant. Instead, she is working at fund-raising for the virtual event. This is her way of giving back because she has been there and knows how many kidney patients this money helps support.
If you like, you are able to support Dorothy’s effort right here.
Zach Tremblay’s transition to doing hemodialysis at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, B.C., has been a success, his mother, Jana, reports.
The Tremblays live in Robson, B.C., which is located 33 km north of Trail.
Zach has four runs per week, each of them three to four hours in length.
“We drive him over, come home and go back later to get him . . . 16 trips back and forth a week,” Jana writes. “The Trail unit is full of lovely people and they have been exceptional in welcoming him/us and making it a less stressful transition.
“I am not allowed in with him because of the virus, so he has to go alone. He has his devices and snacks and off he goes.
“Not gonna lie . . . my eyes were full of tears and the lump in my throat was huge on Day 1, but has since shrunk to a pea size, with no tears now, every time we drop him off. He just makes us proud.”
Zach recently spent four months in Vancouver with Jana, as he went from peritoneal dialysis to hemo. And, of course, the search for a kidney for him continues.
On that front, Jana, reports . . .
“Now for the good news! Yes!! GOOD NEWS that we have been cradling and holding onto just a little while, because it just felt good for a change and we wanted to just enjoy it a while.
“A few weeks ago, Zach and I had a telehealth phone conference with his transplant doctor in Vancouver, Dr. Tom (Blydt-Hansen). Zach’s antibodies have come down. It doesn’t always happen, but it has and we will take it and feel blessed.
“This means the possibility of a match has become much bigger. Each time they come down, his donor pool widens — it’s really exciting biology stuff.”
What this means is that the odds of there being a match for him have improved considerably. Prior to the antibodies coming down, one person in 7,000 tested donors may have matched. Now it’s five in 1,000.
Jana adds: “They are now going to revisit anyone previously tested to see if they have become more compatible. They will also start testing new candidates, and continue with the paired exchange testings.
“If you’ve ever considered getting tested, please think about it now and help save our boy. His grad year is coming up and how wonderful would it be for this to be behind us and for him to just enjoy it.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Leonard Pitts, a columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, sat down at his keyboard the other day and tapped out a column that really resonated with me.
Here are the first three paragraphs:
“Someday, I’m going to die.
“This, I grudgingly accept. I have no idea how it’s going to happen. Maybe I will die of having a tree fall on me, of eating tainted shellfish, or of being struck by lightning. But this much I guarantee. I will not die of having wagered my life that TV carnival barkers, political halfwits and MAGA-hat-wearing geniuses know more than experts with R.N.s, M.D.s, and Ph.D.s after their names.
Jennifer from Port Alberni shares that her mother gave the gift of life on Christmas day, just a few years ago. A second chance at life is something our recipients don't take for granted. Please think twice, and #stayhome for our immunocompromised organ recipients. pic.twitter.com/cSI42NTE0i
Noreen and Rick from Prince George want to tell you how grateful they are that their son was an organ donor. It brings great joy to them, knowing that Matthew’s gifts are out there and we need to stay the course to keep our communities and loved ones safe during this time. pic.twitter.com/hzTFbKDjCc
Thanks to Dr. Quincy Young with St. Paul’s Hospital for creating this handout on coping with COVID-19 & physical distancing, and how to manage anxiety at home. Here’s the quick link to read and share! https://t.co/UMXHLZYxKq#GetReal#MentalHealthWeek
Lori, a mom, grandma, & recipient. Strict isolation is her new normal. It's difficult not seeing her kids who are all nurses. One just had a baby & meeting him for the first time through the window was heartbreaking & necessary. Visit our support programs. https://t.co/cwsgVMC7znpic.twitter.com/w65QeR5qi4
Michael Coyle, a volunteer with Coquitlam Search and Rescue, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and later went public with his need to find a kidney donor.
So . . . what’s it like to find out that you have kidney disease? What goes through your mind when the medical staff suggests that you turn to the public in an attempt to find a donor? And what happens when you get THE call, informing you that a donor has been found?
Coyle took to Facebook to explain all of this to his friends, and you are able to read it all right here.
If you are being impacted by kidney disease, I cannot recommend this enough.
Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, remain in Vancouver where they are staying at Ronald McDonald House. From Robson, B.C., they have been in the city since the first week of January and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to their stay.
Zach, 16, began his stay at B.C. Children’s Hospital, where he was transitioned from peritoneal dialysis to hemodialysis. The closest hospital to Robson that is equipped to do hemp is in Trail, and there isn’t a dialysis chair open at this point in time.
In the meantime, Zach and his mother are making the best of their time in Vancouver.
On Friday, Jana posted on Facebook about their latest adventure:
“So a week or so ago, a former Castlegarite, Anita, messaged me and asked if Zach and I would like a tour of CTV, and to watch her husband Jason, who is one of the hosts of CTV Morning Live, tape the show and have a tour after. We were thrilled to go watch. Jason then offered to interview Zach and I and feature Zach’s story on World Kidney Day, March 16th!
“Jason also arranged for us to attend today’s Vancouver Canucks’ practice, which was so much more! We got to watch them practice, go down below into the change room . . . met Brock Boeser, who gifted Zach with an autographed jersey! We met Elias Pettersson and Zach got his jersey signed, and Zach MacEwen. Bo Horvat came over and said hello again and asked how Zach was doing. It was all very exciting!
“We also got to tour the retired jerseys and player sticks area. We got to attend the press conference and watch (head coach) Travis Green address the media. Travis also came out and met with us — a thrill of a lifetime for us both!!
“Huge thanks to Anita, Jason and the Canucks organization for an amazing day filled with incredible memories.”
Green is from Castlegar, which is across the Columbia River from Robson. When he was a mere youngster, Jana actually babysat Green and his younger brother, David, on occasion.
After returning to Ronald McDonald House, Zach and Jana discovered they had won tickets to that evening’s game. So they were in the stands, no doubt cheering loudly, as the Canucks beat the Avalanche, 6-3.
It was Wednesday evening and I was watching the Vancouver Canucks playing against the visiting Arizona Coyotes.
The game went to a commercial break during the second period and one of the spots was for Pacific Blue Cross travel insurance. I’m not a great commercial watcher but, dang, that guy’s face looked familiar.
In fact, I was so sure that it was Michael Teigen that I sent an inquiring note to Stephen Gillis, who has had one of Michael’s kidney’s in the lower right quadrant of his torso for more than two weeks now.
Sure enough, my eyes hadn’t deceived me.
As Stephen responded: “He is an actor, improviser and comedian. Been in commercials and movies you probably saw but never knew.”
Well, I will be watching for him now.
"It's a very important moment at the end of the games to show how these kids can really live life to the fullest post-transplant," Schick said.https://t.co/1m6gDleSay
In 2013, Lori donated a #kidney to a stranger to help family in need. "I knew so little about the process and how life-changing it could be for someone I love. But what if more people understood that they had the power to save a life?" #BigAskBigGivehttps://t.co/tU3mcq9xda
Could you Lose 80% of Something and Not Notice Absolutely! You could lose up to 80% of your kidney function before a diagnosis of kidney disease. It's so important to be aware of the risk factors. Visit https://t.co/u0HDNdS86n for more info.
I have written here before about Ferris Backmeyer, a three-year-old from Kamloops who continues to do peritoneal dialysis as she and her family wait and hope that a kidney transplant is in her future.
If things continue to progress, Ferris’s name will go on the deceased donor list at some point in March.
In the meantime, Jill Sperling of CFJC-TV in Kamloops did a story on Ferris that appeared on Thursday newcasts. It’s all right here. But a few words of warning . . . if you haven’t watched anything on Ferris prior to now be prepared to fall in love.
CBC News posted a story by Carolyn Ray on Wednesday and part of it absolutely blew me away.
“Doctors in Nova Scotia have discovered many families are refusing to allow a loved one in a traumatic situation to donate their organs, even if the patient has signed their donation card,” Ray wrote.
She continued: “Dr. Rob Green, the provincial medical director for Nova Scotia’s trauma program, worked on three studies looking at trauma patients and donation rates between 2009 and 2016. He looked at patients who were identified as potential donors but didn’t donate. He said he was shocked to discover that nearly 50 per cent — 28 out of 60 cases — were because the family refused to go forward.”
Dr. Green told Ray: “I didn’t expect that at all. Some of these patients signed their driver’s licence, saying they wanted to be an organ donor, and their family did not respect their wishes.”
Nova Scotia’s organ donation program is called Legacy of Life; its medical director is Dr. Stephen Beed.
Toby Boulet and his wife, Bernadine, lost their son, Logan, in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus almost two years ago. Logan had registered as an organ donor shortly before the crash, and eight of his organs were harvested. Since then, the Logan Boulet Effect has become a real movement with Toby and Bernadine become advocates for organ donation.
Toby, via Twitter, offered this:
“Dr. Beed was with Logan and our family throughout the most difficult time of our lives. His work in both NS and SK is amazing and families need to support the organ donor wishes of a family member. Families need to TALK — not just register!”
At the same time, the Green Shirt Day account on Twitter added:
“Both Green and Beed want more families to talk openly about their wishes as much as possible. Green said if they make it clear in advance, it helps a family cope during an emotional time.”
As of Jan. 31, according to BC Transplant, there were 1,523,663 donors registered with the B.C. Organ Donor Registry.
In January 2020, there were 55 organ transplants performed in B.C., with 32 of those involving kidneys — 23 from deceased donors and nine from living donors.
As of Jan. 31, there were 777 people in the province waiting for organ donations with 619 of those needing kidneys.
At the same time, there were 5,221 patients in the province who were being followed post-transplant. All told, 3,500 of those patients have had kidney transplants.
More numbers from 2019, all from BC Transplant:
There were 480 lives saved, down from 502 in 2018.
Surgeons completed 331 kidney transplants, down from 339 in 2018, with 120 involving living donors and 117 from deceased donors.
As well, in 2019 there were 68 liver transplants (77 in 2018), 46 lung transplants (50) and 31 heart transplants (28).
According to BC Transplant, as of Dec. 31, there were 5,182 British Columbians alive because of organ transplants.
BC Transplant has issued a news release detailing all of this and more, and it’s all right here.
Luke's Legacy: Brandon family hopes to raise awareness about organ donation following son's death | CBC News https://t.co/qM6x9tplhi
Aimee and Kevin Hatcher of Brandon, Man., are determined that their son Luke, who died at the age of 12, will be remembered. With that in mind, they are starting what they call the Green Heart Project. . . . As Riley Laychuk of CBC News writes: “While (Aimee) doesn’t know what her end goal is yet, Hatcher said she envisions a foundation focused on raising awareness about organ donation and supporting families who are faced with tough decisions.” . . . Luke died in December following an accident in the basement of the family’s home. According to Aimee, Luke’s kidneys, lungs, liver and pancreas all were transplanted. . . . Laychuk’s story is right here.
Canadians need to know more about their kidneys. We’re launching a campaign to have kidneys recognized as the vital organs they are. Using humor, it aims to get people talking about how vital kidneys are to health. Watch the video. https://t.co/pgIARLCrTepic.twitter.com/LQAM5jsSKJ
If you wonder what it’s like for someone who is staring at a kidney transplant and watching as the date for surgery quickly approaches, well, Stephen Gillis is providing a look into what he is going through.
Gillis, who coaches a minor hockey team in Vancouver, is scheduled for a transplant on Tuesday at Vancouver General Hospital, with a friend, Michael Teigan, as the donor. You may be aware that Gillis’s hockey team put together a video a while back as part of the search for a donor.
With Transplant Day drawing ever closer, Gillis’s Facebook posts provide some insight into his thoughts and feelings . . .
“With one week till our kidney transplant, my donor Michael’s awesome girlfriend and my dear friend, Denise, held a ‘Kidney Relocation Party’ with some of Michael’s dearest friends.
“Van Minor Atom A1 parents and players, who have gone above and beyond supporting us, gave Michael some amazing gifts including a t-shirt and card made by our awesome manager, Tara Rodas, and personal cards from each player and a lovely donation to Michael’s recovery time.
“Friends were tasked to bring kidney-related items to the party, which included cooking lamb kidney (which is the only kidney I hope to reject), an original 19-page Kidney screenplay, poems, and an unbelievable kidney donation-themed rendition of ‘The Downeaster Alexa’ by Billy Joel. A special night with special people.
“Thank you to all who have supported our journey together and know that you too can be a hero by registering to be an organ donor to save a life one day. It takes 30 seconds, www.register.transplant.bc.ca.
Later came another post . . .
“(Wednesday) was a special day for Michael & I as we march toward Transplant Tuesday.
We had a lovely interview with the great Robin Gill (that will run on) Global National news on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m., and then will also run on Global BC’s morning show with our friends @paulyhays & @soniasunger. Thanks to Global News for their continued support of our story and raising awareness for organ donation and the Kidney Foundation of BC & Yukon.
“We also, surprisingly, ran into our transplant surgeon Dr. Dave, who is an absolute beauty. ‘We are going to make sure you are both okay and by 4 p.m. Tuesday it will all be over.’
“I am starting to feel calm for the first time in years. Literally, service dogs run up to me lately as they can tell my energy. The only time the worry leaves me is when I am at the rink with the kids, until Dr. Dave gave me our pre-game talk. I think I am finally ready to let go and have this miracle happen.
“Check out our interview Sunday evening on @globaltv and please consider becoming an organ donor and have the conversation with your family. Know you don’t have to be a living donor, just think: Do you really need to take anything with you when you go on the next part of your journey on the other side?“
Gillis and Teigan also were to be busy on Saturday night.
As Gillis, who spent Friday night at WWE Smackdown in Vancouver, posted:
“Michael and I will be on stage for a very special Kidney/Organ Donation-themed Vancouver Theatre Sports show at 9:30 p.m. at the Improv Centre.
“Please consider coming out and laughing with us and possibly donating to The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch.”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
This year, BC Transplant will award two $1000 scholarships to Gr 12 students who lead an organ donation awareness project in their school or community during April 2020. Help us spread the word by sharing this post and telling everyone in your circle! https://t.co/VadCztXUHcpic.twitter.com/lYPoDXCfIi
SMASHING RECORDS: In 2019, Ontario set NEW records with 1,386 organ transplants and 684 deceased and living organ donors – a 13% increase over the previous year. Read more about this record breaking year in our news release: https://t.co/ULv2f2fdmQpic.twitter.com/WM2kvYctQ2
The Trillium Gift of Life Network reports that the province of Ontario set a record for organ donations and transplants in 2019. . . . All told, organs from 684 deceased and living donors resulted in 1,386 transplants. . . . One of the reasons for the increases is that donors who in times past wouldn’t have been eligible because of one medical condition or another now are able to donate because of medical advancements. From a news release: “Transplants of healthy and suitable organs from donors with hepatitis C, for example, can now safely occur, expanding the pool of potential donors and decreasing wait times for recipients on the list.” . . . Jessica Patton of Global News has more right here.
IN THE NEWS! 📰📣 UC research could help identify organ donors at risk of developing kidney disease. https://t.co/vVwOv5assI
Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, remain ensconced in Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, although they did venture out on Monday night to watch the Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues, 3-1, in what was an entertaining game.
Zach, all decked out in an Elias Pettersson sweater, and Jana took in the action from near the penalty box in Rogers Arena.
Zach, 16, and Jana are from Robson, B.C., which is across the Columbia River from
Castlegar, which just happens to be the hometown of Canucks head coach Travis Green.
Yes, it’s a small world. How small? The Greens lived across the street from Jana, who tells me that she used to babysit Travis and his brother David.
After Monday’s game, Zach and Jana were taken to the players’ area for a meet-and-greet where he visited with Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev.
“What a great guy he was,” Jana posted, “so friendly and just chatted with Zach.”
And how did Jana sum up the whole thing when it was over.
“It was so cool to see (Zach) take this all in,” she wrote. “Overwhelming really. And when we got home the emotions of it all hit me, and I was the messy mom.”
If you’re a regular here, you will know that Zach and Jana have been in Vancouver for a few weeks now. They started out at B.C. Children’s Hospital, then moved to Ronald McDonald House as Zach transitions from peritoneal dialysis (PD) to hemodialysis, all of this while he waits and hopes for a new kidney.
Earlier Monday, Jana reported that “hemodialysis is going very well. He is tolerating it very well, his numbers are fantastic and he feels better than he has in a long time . . . eating more, lots of energy. So good to see . . . our boy is back.”
Prior to this stint in Vancouver, Zach had been doing PD at home in Robson. When they get back home, he will be doing hemo at the hospital in Trail; however, there doesn’t seem to be any hint as to when that will happen.
“Trail’s (dialysis) unit is full right now — eight chairs and a full schedule with people on the wait list,” Jana noted. “They are currently installing a ninth chair and training new staff.”
Jana continued: “This of course takes time, so we are literally in IHA (Interior Health Authority) limbo while this all happens and they have room for Zach in their schedule . . . patience is apparently a virtue . . .”
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
IN THE NEWS! 📰📣 Alberta man hoping billboards and advertising will find him a kidney donor. Jim Lomond was born with kidney problems and after a couple of transplants his last one failed four years ago.https://t.co/wPFBTAblq4
Many thanks to the Canadian Iranian Foundation for inviting us to speak with the West Vancouver community about organ donation and transplant. Margaret was honoured to present and share her story with the group. pic.twitter.com/Hsu4pJynU5
To reduce the risk of infection, wash your hands regularly with soap and water throughout the day, avoid touching your eyes/mouth/nose and cough or sneeze into your arm. #coronavirus#flupic.twitter.com/zRMfBTYNR5
It’s time to check in with a couple of our favourite young people — Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay — each of whom is dealing with kidney disease and is in need of a transplant.
Both are regular visitors to B.C. Children’s Hospital. Ferris and her mother, Lindsey, have just returned to Kamloops from their most recent trip, while Zach and Jana have been in Vancouver for a few days now, and are likely to remain there for a while yet.
Lindsey and Jana both took to Facebook on Wednesday to update friends as to the latest happenings. Hopefully, these will provide some insight into what people have to deal with they as they and/or their loved ones deal with kidney disease.
Ferris, who is about to celebrate her third birthday, does peritoneal dialysis on a daily
basis. She needs to gain weight, and maintain that weight, in order to have a transplant.
Here is a bit of what Lindsey posted:
“The take home from this trip is that she’s been managing pretty well from a dialysis perspective. Things are going well and our focus yet again seemed to be on growth . . . We have our wrapup from the assessment meeting with the transplant nephrologist Feb. 7. Our dialysis team is hopeful she will be ready to list/look into live donors by March.
“For the past few months we have seen audiology and ent each time we go down. Ferris’s hearing tests are abnormal. This took me by surprise as I’m fairly certain she can hear some stuff. She follows instructions and has conversations with us daily. However, I am starting to think that she likely can’t hear as well as we think and it’s likely why she isn’t speaking yet. And I mean no clear words . . . except no . . . and yah. She’s also increasingly frustrated that we don’t know what she’s saying (as she’s most definitely trying to talk) although learning some basic signs has helped with this.
“Anyway, they are taking it quite seriously and have put her on an emergent list and I’ve been told we will be back down likely within the next month for a hearing test done under general anesthetic and probable placement of tubes. After that, they will discuss whether she will need hearing aids. I’m hopeful that this might help her in the communication realm as we all know she is sooooo smart!
“She loves to draw and is practising her smiley faces. Her imaginative play is so incredible to watch. She will pretend her baby is hurt, sign for sad and then pull an imaginary Bandaid out of thin air and pretend to put it on, then say happy! She loves to dance and her favourite songs right now are ‘Me Too’ by Meghan Trainor and Dance Monkey.
“In just a couple short weeks, little miss will be 3 and I can’t wait to see how she grows!”
Lindsey ended her latest post with this:
“We also got to meet my friend Jana (Tremblay) and her kidney friggin warrior Zach!! Was by far the best part of this trip for me!! It was so nice to chat with people who are dealing with something similar to us! I hope to meet up with them again sometime soon, and hope even more that Zach gets the kidney he so desperately needs!!”
It is tremendous news that Lindsey and Jana finally met and you can bet that they will continue to communicate with each other. This kind of support is invaluable and is the reason why we started the Kamloops Kidney Support Group. Words can’t express the importance of being able to meet and talk with people who can relate to what you have dealt with and are going through.
(BTW, the KKSG’s next meetings are Feb. 8 and 12; we meet on the the second Saturday (9 a.m.) and Wednesday (10 a.m.) of each month.
Jana and Zach, who are from Robson, B.C., remain at B.C. Children’s Hospital as Zach, 16, is transitioned from peritoneal dialysis to hemo. On Wednesday, Jana posted:
“We have had a few big changes and a few tough days. Our boy is a rock star though, as always, and seems to be handling these things with courage and more grace than most adults would.
“Peritoneal dialysis is no longer working for Zach. On Friday, he had surgery to have a hemo catheter placed, and we will be transitioning over to hemo dialysis permanently until we can find his match.
“We have no time frame on coming home atm. We are just working to get him successfully running hemo, and to be a healthier him.
“I don’t have many more answers than that at the moment .
“Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers as we make this leap into the adult world of dialysis. We can’t move here for him to have treatment 3x per week, and the local dialysis unit in Trail is not connected to Children’s in any way, so our dialysis time here, and with our team, will come to an en . . . Bittersweet, but life.
“Please keep sharing his story in hopes it reaches the right set of eyes!”
If you would like more info on being a living kidney donor:
“The Ministry of Health is seeking a contractor to build an organ and tissue donation registry, and it’s leaving its options open in case the province later adopts an opt-out donation model,” Arthur White-Crummey of the Regina Leader-Post wrote earlier this month. “Health Minister Jim Reiter revealed the government’s plans for an online registry in March of last year, signalling that the system should be up and running by the end of the fiscal year in April.
“The plan is now moving forward after a slight delay. The Ministry of Health posted tender documents Thursday seeking proposals to build the system. It is now hoping for the registry to be available to the public, “ideally,” by mid-June of this year.”
Did you know 5,000 people are alive in B.C. today because of organ transplants? Learn more about PHSA's milestones and innovations as we continue to make huge strides in health care in B.C. and beyond: https://t.co/vSvC4GprCApic.twitter.com/iWSGWjbvkX
We’re with you on congratulating Dr. John Gill on this huge accomplishment. 👏 His great work helps to put BC Transplant on the Canadian and world map for transplant and patient care. https://t.co/zcEBQiuiiz
"I feel so free. I'm able to do what I want, travel whenever I want and not [have to] work around the machine," said Atsynia, who encourages Cree people to sign their donor card. "You're giving someone else a chance to live." https://t.co/Nsc9x46SJ1
Gord McIntyre of Postmedia chatted with Jana Tremblay the other day and the result — a story on Jana’s son Zach — was in Vancouver’s two daily papers on Friday. . . . The hunt is on for a kidney for Zach, 16, who spends 14 hours a day undergoing dialysis. The Tremblays live in Robson, B.C., just across the Columbia River from Castlegar. . . . McIntyre’s story is right here.
I first wrote about Zach in October. That piece is right here.
NOTE: Just as I posted this on Saturday morning, Jana Tremblay was putting a note on Facebook . . .
“Because life just likes to keep us on our toes, we are currently sitting in Trail Hospital, awaiting air transport to Vancouver. Zach has very high BP , and needs some TLC from his team.
And just to throw an extra kink into things , weather in Van has our flight on hold … that’s a switch 😜
Keep good thoughts for our boy.”
We’re thinking about you, Zach.
Terry Coventry lived in Whitehorse for 61 years; he died of kidney failure in Whitehorse on Friday at the age of 74. . . . Coventry died four weeks after a final dialysis treatment. . . . He had ended up at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in July and spent four months there. With dialysis treatment unavailable in Whitehorse and not wanting to relocate to Vancouver, Coventry returned to the Yukon city to die.
On Dec. 10, Coventry called reporters to his bedside in Whitehorse General Hospital. “Maybe my death, and my complaint here, will trigger something in the government so the next guy coming along can be here and won’t be shipped down south,” Coventry told reporters. “I’m going to die. That’s it . . . I’m not afraid, I’m just kind of pissed off.”
Gabrielle Pivonka of the Whitehorse Star was among the reporters at Coventry’s bedside on Dec. 10. Her story, which is right here, helps to explain why hemo-dialysis isn’t available in Whitehorse.
Those involved with The Kidney Project feel that they are moving ever closer to eliminating the need for dialysis. . . . The team reported in November that U of California — San Francisco “scientists have successfully implanted a prototype kidney bioreactor containing functional human kidney cells into pigs without significant safety concerns. The device, which is about the size of a deck of cards, did not trigger an immune reaction or cause blood clots in the animals, an important milestone on the road to future human trials.” . . . Team member Shuvo Roy, PhD, said in a news release: “This is the first demonstration that kidney cells can be implanted successfully in a large animal without immunosuppression and remain healthy enough to perform their function. This is a key milestone for us. . . . Based on these results, we can now focus on scaling up the bioreactor and combining it with the blood filtration component of the artificial kidney.” . . . The complete news release is right here.
IN THE NEWS! 📰📣 Calgary woman calls organ donation her ‘Christmas miracle’. "I became extremely anemic. I was extremely tired and fatigued all the time. I couldn't go a day without napping," McLarty said. "Dialysis takes a lot out of you."https://t.co/WpM1USK9zb
If you haven’t heard Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas, here it is and it’s a good one . . .
We are closing in on Christmas, so why not a story about a “Christmas kidney,” a story that really is worth a listen?
Jason Armstrong of West Vancouver and his family are more than ready for Monday. Yes, he is going to get a new kidney on Monday, two days before Christmas Day. . . . Armstrong, 48, and his wife have four children. . . . He has had health issues for seven years and really has quite a story that includes a lot more than kidney failure. . . . One potential donor who was a match found out during testing that she wouldn’t be able to give him a kidney. In the end, another acquaintance is giving him what she calls a “Christmas kidney.” . . . Armstrong equates it to winning a lottery. “She’s actually going to save my life. . . . Thank you isn’t enough,” he told Claire Allen of 980 CKNW, a Vancouver radio station. . . . This is a terrific listen. So take 10 minutes out of your life and check it out right here.
If you've got 10 mins, listen to my piece about a West Vancouver father who received a kidney from an unexpected donor.
If you haven’t already, do all the people around you a favour and get yourself a flu shot for Christmas.
Here’s Dr. Richard Webby, a member of the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization’s Vaccine Composition Team:
“With family gatherings and travel during the holiday season, the influenza virus is spreading across the country and (people) need to take precautions now to protect themselves and their families.
“It is still not too late to get vaccinated and for your body to build up immunity this flu season.
“The bottom line is the flu shot is still the most valuable and life-saving public health tool in preventing and spreading the flu. In fact, this year’s flu vaccine has been reformulated and updated based on last year’s shot.”
Some tips for preventing the flu . . . Get the flu shot . . . Wash your hands regularly . . . Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough . . . Stay home and rest if you are ill . . . Wash your hands . . . Wash your hands . . . Wash your hands.
If you pay attention to anything, please make it this from Dr. Webby:
“Getting the flu vaccine isn’t just about protecting your health, it’s also about protecting those around you who are vulnerable like the elderly, children, and those with serious health issues. The more people who get the flu shot, the less chance the virus can spread while protecting more people.”
There are many people walking around out there who look healthy but due to health circumstances have compromised immune systems. These are just some of the people we need to protect by getting flu shots.
Diet is one of the things that often comes up in conversation when the Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathers. Because Dorothy has experienced pre-dialysis, peritoneal dialysis and a kidney transplant, she often is asked about any dietary restrictions she may have encountered along the way.
These days, with the transplant having occurred more than six years ago, her main concern is that any meat she eats be completely cooked. Yes, we regularly use a meat thermometer. She also is sure to heat any deli meet that she might eat because of the danger of listeria.
Anyway . . . with diet in mind, something that is front and centre at this time of year, here’s a note from June Martin of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, from her Dietitian’s Blog:
“Food is an important part of any holiday or celebration. As I was thinking about what to write about for my Christmas blog post, I was trying to think of how to articulate why food is so important to the holidays and to almost any celebration. For me, Christmas Eve is the smell of tourtiere (and my brother complaining about having to eat it) and Christmas day could never be the same without turkey and stuffing. And regardless of what holiday you celebrate, food plays a huge role. Preparing food and eating together is a part of almost every culture’s rituals for celebration.
“Unfortunately having kidney disease can make celebrating the holidays much more difficult! Trying to maintain family and religious traditions while balancing the sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein and fluid in your diet takes planning and skill.”
There’s a whole lot more right here, including “a few noteworthy items to watch out for over the holidays.”
FROM KIDNEY COMMUNITY KITCHEN🥪“Preparing food and eating together is a part of almost every culture’s rituals for celebration. Unfortunately having kidney disease can make celebrating the holidays much more difficult!” Read this dietitian’s blog for tips: https://t.co/lKnq9DVoHvpic.twitter.com/0xGn4CoNzF
WANT TO PARTICIPATE? 💻 BC Renal is seeking patients and family members to participate in the Evaluation Project Advisory Group. For more information and to RSVP (before December 31), visit: https://t.co/DPpoxkdf6Ohttps://t.co/KZYyMTwOLj
"I’m so thankful that I was in a position to donate a kidney. What an incredible feeling it was being able to help save someone’s life. I would absolutely do it again… if I could. It's been four years and I feel fantastic." – Freddie Marsh, Living donor #FreddieGaveLifepic.twitter.com/qx7HopyIye