Christmas to remember for Dodds family . . . Julie’s coming home with new kidney this weekend . . . She had transplant on Oct. 28

Julie Dodds is coming home!

Julie, a mother of three young boys from Kamloops, underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Oct. 28. She was released from hospital four days later and has been staying in a hotel near the hospital, while returning for bloodwork and to meet with her transplant team.

JulieUmbrella
Julie Dodds will be leaving the wet weather of the West Coast for the sunshine of Kamloops on Sunday. Hey, after you have had a kidney transplant the sun always shines. (PHOTO: Julie Dodds)

She was told Thursday that she has been cleared to return home this weekend. So her husband, Allan, and the boys will be bringing her home on Sunday.

When she is back in Kamloops, she will be under the care of the fantastic renal team at Royal Inland Hospital that is headed up by Dr. Joslyn Conley and includes Dr. Kathryn Scobie and Dr. Vanbric Casilla.

Julie says she will “still have to do blood work twice a week” and will have “virtual appointments on Fridays” with the team at St. Paul’s Hospital. She also will return to St. Paul’s for appointments on Dec. 7.
“Obviously something could come up here or there and I’ll be back,” she said, “but I’m taking this good news for today and enjoying the idea of hugging my kids for the first time in three and a half weeks!!”

Julie was in Stage 4 kidney failure thanks to a genetic kidney disease called Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1. She was fortunate in that she was able to get a transplant before having to go on dialysis, and the donor was her younger brother, Jason Brauer, who is from Port McNeill, B.C. He was discharged from hospital one day after surgery. A transplant before dialysis is needed and involving a sibling is pretty much a best-case scenario when it comes to kidney transplants.

You can bet that this will be a Christmas to remember for the Dodds family of Kamloops.

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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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dante Sebastian Andreatta was 12 years of age — he would have turned 13 in December — when he died on Nov. 11. Four days earlier, he had been caught in the crossfire of a shooting in North York, Ont. He was grocery shopping with his mother at the time. . . . An online fund-raising campaign shared with CTV News Toronto reads:“It’s with heavy hearts that we mourn a life that was taken too soon, but one that has not left in vain. Dante’s kindness and generosity will live on through nine lives that were saved because of his organ donation.” . . . Beth Macdonell of iheartradio.ca has more right here.







A wife’s plea: ‘We are reaching out to everyone in dire-desperation to find a living donor for Vic’

Vic2Are you ready for some numbers?

You are. Great.

For starters, take a guess at how many people in B.C. were waiting (and hoping) for a kidney transplant as of July 31.

According to BC Transplant, there were 633 B.C. residents in that situation.

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Vic Morin of Kamloops is one of them.

His wife, Colleen Bruce, told Vic’s story a year ago. Earlier this week, she provided an update:

“It now has been close to one year since my last posting on Vic and his struggles with kidney disease. There have been a lot of changes in our lives over the past year.

“Vic was put on emergency hemodialysis in the middle of September 2019.  Vic now has transitioned to full-time peritoneal dialysis that he does at home eight hours a night, seven days a week. This dialysis is done at night while he is sleeping.

“Over the past year his health has unfortunately declined. He doesn’t have the energy to do much anymore due to the kidney disease. Even going for walks is a big struggle, but he does try his best a few times a week.

“We really were hoping that the dialysis would give him more spark and energy, but because the kidneys are so diseased, this isn’t the case. He needs a kidney now more then ever.

“We had a virtual appointment with our doctor from St. Paul’s Hospital in early August. He said Vic’s wait for a kidney from a deceased donor could be up to four years for his blood type. As well, the doctor wasn’t sure that Vic’s arteries that attach to the kidney would be strong enough for a kidney transplant in four years.

“The doctor told us that Vic’s only option now is to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor within a year.

“So once again we are reaching out to everyone in dire-desperation to find a living donor for Vic. We created the accompanying poster in hopes of reaching as many people as we can.

“Please keep in mind that you don’t need to be an exact blood-type match to become a donor for Vic, as St. Paul’s Hospital has a paired exchange program. This means that the donor and Vic (recipient) will enter into the paired exchange program.

“Here is how it works:

“Donor A wishes to donate a kidney to Recipient A, but they are not a match. Donor B would like to donate a kidney to Recipient B, but they are not a match. However, Donor A is a match with Recipient B and Donor B is a match with Recipient A. A paired exchange can then be completed.

“Again, we are needing to get our story out to as many people as will listen. If you have ever considered becoming a kidney donor, or would like more information, please contact the donor nurse co-ordinator at St.  Paul’s Hospital by calling 604-806-9027 (1-877-922-9822) or by emailing donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca. Please mention Louis Victor Morin.”

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More numbers, thanks to BC Transplant . . .

As of July 31, there had been 133 kidney transplants conducted in the province — 89 involving deceased donors, 44 from living donors.

All told, BC Transplant was following 3,540 post-transplant patients.

In the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap area, which includes Kamloops, there were 1,217 people with chronic kidney disease. . . . There were 71 people from that area on the transplant list. . . . All told, there were 78 people doing hemodialysis, with another 31 doing peritoneal dialysis.

Think about all the numbers for a moment and you will realize that kidney disease isn’t going anywhere.

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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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.

Ferris and Lindsey Backmeyer: A mother’s love is everything when her child continues to fight . . .

If you’re a regular here, you will know that we have been paying particular attention to Ferris Backmeyer and her family, who are from Kamloops.

That’s because her mother, Lindsey, has been keeping friends and family (and us) updated on Ferris via Facebook.

Lindsey has poured out a mother’s heart in her posts, refusing to hold anything back. She has written with angst and anger and pain and, yes, even some humour as Ferris, at just three years of age, continues to travel a road that hopefully will end with a kidney transplant.

The outpouring of emotions is understandable as Lindsey helps guide husband Pat and Ferris’s two sisters — Tavia and Ksenia — through all of this.

The older girls — the “bigs” as Lindsey refers to them — were in Vancouver for three weeks before returning home with Lindsey’s mother after the weekend.

Lindsey and Pat now are completely focused on getting Ferris through this rough patch, helping her get well enough to go back on the transplant list, and back home. But the last bit hasn’t been an easy stretch.

For example, here’s a bit from a Facebook post by Lindsey on July 20 after doctors implanted a central dialysis line:

“Ferris had complications intraoperatively. The line was technically difficult because of her anatomy and while they were placing it they irritated her heart. Her higher potassium levels lower her threshold for things like that and she went into a PEA arrest. She had roughly 3 minutes of CPR and 1 dose of epinephrine when they got her pulse back. She was hypoxemic and difficult to ventilate for a bit afterwards. They were confident that it was noticed very quickly and that she responded fairly quickly. Thankfully they were able to extubate her and pull her art line before going to the dialysis unit.”

One day later, Lindsey wrote:

IV
Despite all that she has been through, Ferris Backmeyer, 3, can still find a smile for the camera. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

“As for today . . . she’s super low key but perked up by evening and wanted to go to the beach and build sand castles . . . so that’s what we did:) she spent about 5 minutes total on her feet today but that’s okay!! Lots of couch time. She’s sore and much happier with Tylenol on board. I’d be lying if I am not super anxious/protective over her right now. She has little pen crosses on her pulses and blood in her hair that I rinsed off into a paper towel. A bath was not a today thing. She has no idea what a big day yesterday was, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”

Last Thursday, Ferris had more surgery as a peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter was implanted. She had been doing PD at home when fungal peritonitis brought it all crashing down. That resulted in this most-recent trek to B.C. Children’s Hospital and all that has followed.

After Thursday was over, Lindsey, her emotions on her sleeve by now, wrote: “It was a super hard, inpatient kinda day.”

A day later, there were more complications, this time with cell counts.

“The question of when she could get listed again (for a transplant) comes up and at this point we just don’t know,” Lindsey wrote. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t shattered by today’s news.

“My heart is breaking for Ferris. She normally takes all the medical stuff in stride and right now she’s really struggling. I call it a trauma cry because it’s one I have hardly ever seen before and she looks like she’s being tortured. With things she used to handle like a champ. As she gets older navigating her mental health is so much more challenging and so ridiculously important!”

The next day, doctors had to put in an IV line, which brought this response from Lindsey:

“Oh man . . . after posting how she’s not doing so well coping . . first time ever IV placement without tears! This is her 5th IV this go-round and she’s not left with a lot of sites. She was so ridiculously cute and compliant for the nurse and she was friggin amazing with Ferris! Decent end to a not so awesome day!!”

And now the Backmeyers are playing something of a waiting game. As Lindsey wrote on Monday:

Couch
Ferris likes the couch a whole lot more than a hospital bed. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

“So far the cultures haven’t grown anything! They have stopped the antibiotics. Gonna repeat a sample on Wednesday and if cell counts have trended down will likely drop the antifungals (she’s been on fluconazole since we got down here a month ago). Then it will be a bit of a wait-and-see. I think they will go ahead and start using the catheter as planned. Best case scenario . . . home in a couple of weeks!! Trying so desperately to remain optimistic!!

“Ferris wants nothing to do with a hospital bed after she gets out of it in the morning. All bad things start with that bed . . . I can’t really blame her! She’s passed out on the couch the last 3 nights. Hoping for a super uneventful week!!”

BTW, Lindsey and Pat celebrated their 16th anniversary last week.

“Happy Anniversary to the most incredible momma bear,” Pat wrote, above a photo of a snarling grizzly bear. On the photo, it read: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ And the mama bear whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’ ”

——

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

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Here’s the deal on the above tweet. . . . It’s the story of Carrie, who has had a heart transplant and now has met the family of her donor. . . . From the Provincial Health Services Authority: “Filmed in February 2020, Carrie finally got to hug the family of Darcy, her organ donor. After 17 years of writing letters to each other, she was met with open arms by his mother Marie and brother Daryl in a first ever face-to-face meeting.” . . . The video is right here.





We’re Walking the Block on Sunday . . . Last chance to join Dorothy’s team . . . Grand Chief needs help

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:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca



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.

Zach’s odds have gotten better, but he still needs a donor. Interested?

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.


Zach16

 

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:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


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.

“In other words, I will not die of stupid.”

The complete column is right here.






The kidney experience, according to Coyle . . . Zach makes more friends during Vancouver stay . . . Michael Teigen: Actor, comedian and kidney donor

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.


Green
Travis Green, the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, took some time to visit with Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, on Friday. The Canucks entertained the Colorado Avalanche that evening. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

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.

Boeser
Zach Tremblay is all smiles after Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks presented him with an autographed sweater on Friday. Below, the Tremblays spent some time in front of the CTV cameras earlier Thursday. Watch for them on TV on World Kidney Day, March 16.  (Photos: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

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 CTV 2player 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.

Pettersson
Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks stops to chat with Zach Tremblay in the NHL’s team’s dressing room on Thursday afternoon. Zach is wearing a Pettersson replica sweater, which he got autographed. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

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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.





If you haven’t already, prepare to fall in love with Ferris . . . BC Transplant releases statistics from 2019

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.”

Ray’s complete story is right here.

——

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.”


KidneyStats

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.


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.




Big day drawing closer for Gillis, Teigan. . . . Transplant, donation records in Ontario

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:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca



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.


Zach, Jana enjoy night to remember with Canucks . . . Albertan hoping billboard helps search for kidney

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Jana and Zach Tremblay got to cheer on the Vancouver Canucks from almost front tow seats at Rogers Place on Monday night. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

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

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After Monday’s NHL game in Vancouver, Zach Tremblay got to spend some time with Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

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 Zach16we 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:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca





Checking on Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay, two young people dealing with kidney disease . . .

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.

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Ferris, who is about to celebrate her third birthday, does peritoneal dialysis on a daily

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Ferris Backmeyer, soon to be three years of age, loves nothing more than to spend time drawing and smiling. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

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!”

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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.

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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:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


“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.”

The complete story is right here.