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

FerrisJan2020
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!”

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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.





Zach’s search for kidney continues . . . Coventry hoped his death will bring change to Yukon

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.”

Steve Silva of CBC News has more right here.

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.




Psst! Have you heard about the “Christmas kidney?” . . . Psst! Don’t forget a flu shot isn’t about you

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 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.

Oh, and Grandma and Grandpa, too.





Kidney patients and their diet at this time of the year . . . Also, want to be part of an advisory group?

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.”






Roberts loving her new life after transplant . . . Cypress’ new kidney “doing incredibly well” . . .

Have you ever wondered what life is like for a child before and after a kidney transplant?

Kathleen Roberts knows all about it; she’s 19 now and had a transplant four years ago at BC Children’s Hospital.

“Before the transplant,” she says, “I was going to BC Children’s every few months. I was just sick. I slept 16 to 18 hours a day. I had no appetite. I was 82 pounds and five feet tall. I was severely underweight and severely nauseous. The transplant made a huge difference. I have a normal appetite and I’m not sleeping the day away anymore.”

Take a few minutes and read her story, which is right here.


Cypress Roed, an eight-year-old from Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., continues to make progress after undergoing a kidney transplant on Oct. 24 at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Her mother, Chantelle Deley, told me in an email earlier this week that “Cypress is doing well for the most part. She is finally in remission!”

Early on, Cypress had been diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, something that damages the kidneys and prevents the filtering of protein from the urine.

The recovery process hasn’t been without a speed bump or two, the latest of which has been having to deal with migraines. Cypress was back in hospital late last week because the migraines were causing severe nausea.

But, as Chantelle wrote,“she is in remission and that’s a major positive.”

It’s important to note that the new kidney “is doing incredibly well.”

“She is amazingly strong,” Chantelle said of her daughter.

Dorothy, my wife, had some health issues six weeks or so after her transplant and spent most of December 2013 in hospital dealing with them. But, as with Cypress, the new kidney just kept doing its job. Hopefully, that continues with Cypress, who is preparing to spend her third straight Christmas away from home.

Cypress is to turn nine on Jan. 22. Her dream has been to celebrate by going swimming. Here’s hoping she is able to make a big splash.



This was posted on a blog called Andrew Kai’s Adventure in Liverland. It was written by his mother:

“I wrote this in the waiting room after Kai coded. They brought him back 3 times before rushing him to the operating room. The plan was to open him up and remove the bad liver to buy him some time. The new liver was only 4 hours away. He had held on at the top of the list for 2 days. He was first in line for a liver and didn’t get one in time.

“I really believed he would make it. I pushed all the doubts out. I kept saying this over and over to myself, I knew my baby was strong and I had to believe for him.”

The post included a photo of a note on which was written:

“Pieces of me are in you

“Pieces of you are in me

“I am here

“You are here

“Kai will live!!!!”

Below the note was a small stone with a heart etched into it.

Kai’s mother continued:

“The heart stone is what they gave to me, and one to him, so that we would have something to connect us when I had to say goodbye the last time. I placed it over his heart and I haven’t put my stone down since I left him.

“HE WOULD HAVE LIVED IF HE HAD A NEW LIVER. Even if it had been just a few hours earlier.

“DONATE YOUR ORGANS. YOU DON’T NEED THEM AFTER YOU’RE GONE.”

Andrew Kai George was born on April 23, 2019. Without a new liver, he died on Dec. 2, 2019, in Indianapolis, Ind.





Celebrating 40 years with a donated kidney . . . More important news from the Cleveland Clinic

These are the kind of stories we like to read. . . . Tom Mitrovski of Toronto is 72 now. There was a time when he never thought he would see 50.

He underwent a kidney transplant on Nov. 27, 1979, thinking then that he had five to 10 years left. . . . Tom Hayes of Global News has the story right here.


Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have successfully performed a laparoscopic liver transplant, the second time such an operation has been done in the U.S. . . . Chris Cantergiani of WKYC has more right here, and there is a lot of interesting stuff in the story.

Earlier this year, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic performed the first robotic single-port kidney transplant, doing it all through one small abdominal incision. There’s more on that story right here.






How many B.C. people are alive because of organ transplants? The numbers are in . . .

More numbers from BC Transplant: There are 1,487,323 donors registered in the province’s organ donor registry; there were 406 transplants performed in 2019, to Nov. 1; and there still were 755 patients awaiting transplants. . . . Visit the website at transplant.bc.ca for more information and lots more numbers.


Sean Delaney of Edmonton is the associate director of organ listing and allocation at Canadian Blood Services. Delaney, 48, also has undergone a kidney transplant; in fact, he had one more than 20 years ago when he got one from his brother. . . . Delaney’s story, as told by Moira Wyton of Postmedia, is right here, and it’s an interesting one. . . . “Delaney works to streamline organ donation across the country,” Wyton writes, “and create new ways to help people receive the organs they need to live and thrive.

This has included the creation of a national registry to administer new programs such as the Kidney Paired Donation Program, which has facilitated more than 700 transplants since its founding in 2009.” . . . Through all of this, he now finds himself back on the transplant list because his kidney is in failure, and he is doing peritoneal dialysis.



Check out this story from Cleveland where doctors at a clinic have used a robot to perform a kidney transplant . . .