A recipient and her best friend — joined at the kidney. . . . To see them together is to marvel

It is after midnight.

The two women sit in the living room in comfortable, soft chairs. One is focussed on a puzzle book — crossword or Sudoku or Kukuru, she does them all. The other is reading a novel.

Rarely do they speak.

They don’t have to talk in order to communicate . . . they are joined at the kidney.

As proof that time waits for no one, more than six years have passed since one of them

DandD 2
Dorothy Drinnan (right) and her best friend, who donated a kidney in order for her to receive one, love being together.

gave up a kidney so that the other could live again.

But their relationship goes back much farther than that, back to the early 1970s when they worked together in a mental health centre, well before people who are much smarter than I am chose to shut it down.

They no longer live in the same community; in fact, they now are separated by more than 1,700 kilometres and a few mountains. No matter. The friendship endures; in fact, now in their 60s, they are closer than they have ever been, seemingly growing even tighter as time races on.

When one of them needed dialysis to help cope with kidney disease, the other was adamant that she would donate a kidney to her friend. The recipient had been diagnosed with kidney disease — it was discovered that she had been born with just one kidney and that it was malformed and slowly starting to fail — more than 30 years before the transplant. Of course, the friend had been saying for more than 30 years that she would donate a kidney when the time came.

And when that time came, she was true to her word.

When it turned out that they weren’t a match, she said that didn’t matter; they would enter the Living Donor Paired Exchange Program. She would give up a kidney, but only if her best friend got one.

It wasn’t quite that simple, but that’s exactly what ended up happening.

As luck would have it, they ended up in the same hospital so were able to check on each other in the days immediately after surgery.

The donor never has said much about what she did. In fact, when she was away from home for a while those six years ago, there were friends and neighbours who didn’t have any idea where she had gone or what she was doing.

She has never wanted attention. Whenever the subject of her sacrifice or generosity — or pick any other word — is mentioned, she simply shrugs it off. Without having to ask, she knows what would have happened had the shoe been on the other foot.

And now they try to spend time together twice a year — once in the spring and again on or about the anniversary of the transplant.

A year ago, it was the fifth anniversary, so the donor and her husband drove through four provinces in order to participate in a Kidney Walk with the recipient and her family.

A year later, they are sitting quietly in a living room, each in her own world, but you know they are in each other’s world at the same time. Earlier, they were baking scones and making conversation as they worked together. Their children are married now. There are young grandchildren. There is lots to talk about, including all that comes with advancing age.

The one thing that never is heard is a discouraging word, nor is there ever a disagreement.

No. They aren’t sisters. They are closer than that.


Ebata2019
Dr. Russell Ebata (centre), the entire Ebata family and the staff at Ebata Eyecare Optometry, are big supporters of Kidney Walk Kamloops. When Dorothy and I dropped by to thank them the other day, he was adamant that we pose for a photo. Had I known, I would have worn a suit and tie. 

Yes, there is chaos out there. There also are good things happening. . . . Give this tweet and its thread a read; it will make you feel good. . . .



If you are thinking about being a donor, feel free to call the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital (604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822), or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Advertisements

2019 Kidney Walk: Wet day can’t douse spirits. . . . Goal surpassed. . . . Stop thief!

Registration
A Kidney Foundation information booth (back left) was set up at Sunday’s Kidney Walk, while beneath the Lordco canopy you were able to find merchandise after first checking in at the registration table. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

We awoke Sunday to cool weather (12 C) and showers.

The cool wasn’t a problem because warm weather and people with kidney disease aren’t a good match.

But the drizzle . . .

KWlogo2Well, if you have been, or are being, impacted by kidney disease, what’s a little rain? Right?

And so it was that more than 100 people were at McDonald Park on Kamloops’ North Shore on Sunday for the city’s 10th annual Kidney Walk.

Not all of them took part in the walk, which always follows Rivers Trail for more than one kilometre to McArthur Island, but they all were there to show support to people in our community who are dealing with kidney disease or to remember friends and loved ones.

Larry1
Larry Read, the Kidney Walk’s emcee, kept folks informed and everything on time. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

We couldn’t have done it without Larry Read, the sports information guru for the WolfPack at Thompson Rivers U. He is our emcee, and he brought along six athletes from the WolfPack swim team and, oh boy, what a big help they were. This wasn’t the first time Larry brought volunteers from TRU, and it is a tremendously positive feeling to see these young people so eager to help at an event like this one.

With Larry at the controls, we saluted Hugh McLennan and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor as the honourees for the 2019 Walk. Hugh, a rancher, is the host of the Spirit of the West podcast and a familiar figure in the cowboy world in Alberta and B.C. When he needed a kidney almost two years ago, he got

HughLouis2
Hugh McLennan (left) and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor, the honourees of Kamloops’ 2019 Kidney Walk, address the crowd. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

one from Big Rig, a long-time friend who is a former long-haul driver and radio personality.

They were introduced by Edna Humphreys, the executive director of the Kamloops chapter of the B.C. and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Hey, if there’s a renal-related event in Kamloops, you can bet that Edna is the push behind it.

We went into this walk with a goal of raising $20,000. By the time the counting is done, we will be somewhere around $24,000, which is unbelievable. In all of our pre-walk chatter, I don’t once remember anything close to that figure being mentioned.

In 2018, we raised $21,764, after bringing in $16,736 in 2017.

——

Allanmoney
Allan Dodds (right) returns money that had been lifted from the Brock Central Lions Club’ breakfast table on Sunday. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

There was some excitement late in the program, too.

The Brock Central Lions Club was there, again, to provide us with a pancake breakfast, along with sausages and coffee, all by donation.

So with most of the folks already eating and a few in line to fill their plates, a cry went up: “Stop her! Stop her! She took the money box.!!”

It seems that a person had appeared on the scene, got in line for breakfast, then grabbed the cash box and took off on the run.

However, her plan hadn’t accounted for Allan Dodds, who when he isn’t playing Superman works at Lordco in Kamloops. His connection with us? His wife, Julie, has kidney disease and is in need of a transplant.

Anyway . . . Allan took off after the thief, caught up with her and brought back the money.

As Julie wrote on her Facebook page: “My husband not only helped set up . . . and with the delivery of chairs and tables, he helped present a large cheque, and also chased down a would-be thief.”

In the end, the Lions Club raised $326.90, all of which, thanks to Allan, was there to be donated to the Kidney Walk.

If we were to give out an MVP award this year, it would go to Allan. As a member of the Southern Central B.C. branch of the CIM (Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum), he presented the Kidney Walk with a cheque for $5,000 in late August.

Through Lordco, he was able to provide us with a truck with which he picked up tables and chairs from the good folks at TRU. He also supplied, again through Lordco, a large canopy that really came in handy considering the weather.

And, of course, he topped it all off by jumping into a phone booth — OK, there aren’t any of those these days; he just went behind the Lordco truck — where he donned the Superman suit and went on to rescue the money.

Thanks, Allan!

——

DorothyLeona
Dorothy Drinnan (right) and friend Leona Backman enjoy a rainy time during Sunday’s Kidney Walk. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

Dorothy says: Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

With help from so many of you, she was able to raise $3,230 for Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk, which was held on Sunday morning.

With such great support from so many terrific people, she was the leading fund-raiser for a sixth straight year, and she now has raised more than $16,000 in total.


Dodds
Julie Dodds (in red jacket) has kidney disease and is in need of a transplant. She poses with friends and family, all of whom were there to support her at Sunday’s Kidney Walk. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

 

DOG
Not all of the participants in Sunday’s Kidney Walk were of the human variety. This pooch got into the spirit of things by donning a Kidney Walk t-shirt, too. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

Talking kidneys with Freda, Howard, Dorothy and Jill. . . . Update on Vic Morin’s situation. . . . Kamloops Walk on Sunday

With Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk set for Sunday, my wife, Dorothy, along with friends Freda and Howard Brown, got together with Jill Sperling of Kamloops TV station CFJC on Thursday. OK, I was there, too.

We met at McDonald Park, the site of the Walk, where we chatted about kidneys, transplantation, dialysis and the Kidney Walk.

Dorothy had her transplant six years ago, after almost four years of peritoneal dialysis. Freda recently began doing hemo-dialysis; she does three runs a week at Royal Inland Hospital. Howard was hoping to donate a kidney to his wife and spent the past nine months undergoing all of the necessary tests. However, one of the tests turned up a kidney stone, so he has been disqualified, at least for now.

There’s all that and more in this piece right here.

——

In the TV piece referred to above, Howard Brown points out that if you are considering being a live kidney donor, you shouldn’t wait because the testing process takes some time.

But, at the same time, if the medical team finds any issues with your health, they will be dealt with ASAP. In Howard’s case, he already is being put in touch with a specialist in Kamloops and is hoping to have the kidney stone removed so that he can get back into a process that, hopefully, will end with him being a donor for his wife, Freda.

That brings us to Vic Morin, a friend who lives in the Dallas area of Kamloops and who also is in need of a kidney.

Vic has been a regular at Kamloops Kidney Support Group meetings for a while now, and was preparing to begin peritoneal dialysis (PD) in the near future. That is the same form of dialysis that my wife, Dorothy, did before she was fortunate enough to get a kidney from a live donor.

Because Dorothy had experience with PD, she and Vic have had many conversations over the past months. And we were quite excited to hear last week that he was to have a catheter surgically placed into his peritoneal cavity next week. That meant he was one giant step closer to beginning PD.

(BTW, someone who does PD hooks up to a machine called a cycler and does a fluid exchange seven nights a week while sleeping — toxic fluid out, clean fluid in, to be carried around all day in that cavity.)

Unfortunately, Vic’s kidney function deteriorated so rapidly that he was to begin hemo-dialysis on Friday. However, things now have been moved to Monday. He still is on schedule to have a catheter surgically installed on Wednesday so that he can begin training for peritoneal dialysis.

While all this is happening, the search continues for a live donor.

——

One of the reasons that I stopped writing about hockey here and turned mostly to renal-related items is that a lot of education is needed when it comes to kidney disease, dealing with kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation. . . . If I am able to provide enlightening information in this space I will be more than pleased. . . .

A few things you should know . . .

There is no cure for kidney disease. Once you have been diagnosed, that’s it; it doesn’t go away.

A person who has had a kidney transplant isn’t cured. For example, Dorothy takes anti-rejection drugs twice a day in order to keep her system from rejecting the organ that is foreign to her body. Those drugs also suppress her immune system so there are some precautions that have to be taken as she goes through daily life.

Should you choose to be a live donor, you don’t need to be the same blood-type as the person in need of a kidney. Instead, you are able to donate through the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. In short, your kidney goes to someone else, but only on the condition that the person you want to help gets one from another live donor. This is how Dorothy got her kidney — her best friend gave a kidney to someone (neither she nor Dorothy have any idea who it went to), and Dorothy got one from someone else. No, we don’t know a name, nor do we have any idea how many donors and recipients were involved in that particular chain.

If you are being tested and an issue with your health is discovered, it will be dealt with ASAP. In Howard’s case, a doctor at the renal clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver got him in touch with a specialist in Kamloops in short order.

A donor will spend a couple of days in hospital — Dorothy’s friend had surgery on a Monday and was released from hospital on Wednesday. It is suggested that a donor take it easy — no heavy lifting, for example — for up to six weeks and then it’s full-speed ahead. I know of one donor who was back to jogging in three weeks.

A donor also will continue to be monitored by the medical community. Should there be serious issues with the remaining kidney, a donor would automatically go to the top of the transplant list.

And, yes, a person is able to live with one kidney.

I would never pressure anyone to be a donor. If you are at least thinking about it, I would only ask that you do some research.

——

If you are thinking about being a donor, feel free to call the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital (604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822), or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca.

Should you make the call and be asked who will be the recipient, feel free to mention Freda Brown or Louis Victor Morin.

Understand, too, that the people who work in renal clinics are big on privacy — I mean, they are really, really big on privacy. Everything you say or do will be kept confidential.

As well, a donor is able to change his/her mind and walk away at any time during the process.



——

Don’t forget that the 10th annual Kidney Walk Kamloops is scheduled for Sunday (Sept. 22) at McDonald Park on the North Shore. . . . We will begin registering folks at 10 a.m.; we will go for a walk at 11.

Larry Read, who is so involved in our community, will be the emcee, again. Hugh KWlogo2McLennan and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor will be in attendance as the honourees for this year’s walk. When Hugh needed a kidney almost two years ago, Louis, his longtime friend, stepped up and gave him one.

As well, the Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation. A year ago, they served more than 100 breakfasts.

The Kidney Walk helps raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon.

Dorothy will celebrate the sixth anniversary of her transplant on Monday. She will spend part of Sunday taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk; she also helps Edna Humphreys and me pull the whole thing together.

If you would like to help out — Vic Morin is part of her support team — you are able to make a donation right here.

RE/MAX, WHL partner again to help Kidney Foundation. . . . Raised more than $460,000 in two seasons

RE/MAX of Western Canada and the WHL are once again getting behind WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation, the annual promotion that benefits the whlKidney Foundation of Canada and its provincial  branches.

If you aren’t familiar with this promotion, it involves the WHL’s 17 Canadian-based teams, each of whom uses one game each season to help promote organ donation and transplantation.

I don’t have dates for all teams but the B.C. Division games will go like this: Prince George Cougars, Jan. 31; Vancouver Giants, Feb. 8; Kamloops Blazers, March 6; Victoria Royals, March 13; and Kelowna Rockets, March 14.

During the 2017-18 season, the promotion in WHL cities raised more than $265,500, making it the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation. Last season, the final total raised was $196,600.

In two seasons then, RE/MAX of Western Canada and the WHL have helped raise more than $460,000.


The 10th annual Kidney Walk Kamloops is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22, at McDonald Park on the North Shore.

Registration will open at 10 a.m., with the walk to start at 11. And we will walk in the KWlogo2rain if the forecast holds true.

If you would like to join us, you are able to walk all or part of the approximately 2.5-km pathway between McDonald Park and McArthur Island. Or you don’t have to walk at all; you might want to just sit and enjoy the company and festivities, then have breakfast. The Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation.

The Kidney Walk helps the Kidney Foundation raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon.

My wife, Dorothy, will be celebrating the sixth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk. In her six walks, she has raised more than $15,000. If you would like to support her — she reached the $3,000 mark on Thursday — you may do so right here.


A note from the Kidney E-News letter of the BC and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada:

“The BC & Yukon Branch and the Children’s Organ Transplant Society (COTS) were excited to have 43 youth from across BC attend Camp Latona on Gambier Island in August.

“The kids got to enjoy the camp experience with other young people at various stages in their kidney disease/organ transplant journeys. The weather was fantastic and some of highlights included tubing, campfires, extraordinary food, swimming and, of course, making new friends! 

“A huge thank you to all of the gracious donors who made it possible for the kids to attend a cost-free, worry-free camp. We appreciate you!”






More hepatitis C-infected kidneys being transplanted. . . . Disease able to be treated following surgery. . . . Kidney Walk set for Kamloops on Sept. 22

Kidneysign


A study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reports that American transplant centres are using three times more hepatitis C-infected kidneys for transplant rather than dispose of them.

There has long been a fear that a transplant receiving a kidney with hepatitis C would become ill. According to this report, medical advancements in treating hepatitis C mean that those recipients won’t become ill.

Jen Christensen of CNN writes:

“Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious damage. Prior to 2018, most of the infected organs went to patients who already had hepatitis C. Since 2018, most of these infected kidneys, about 75 per cent, went to patients who did not have the virus.

“Patients who received infected kidneys had nearly the same function as those who received uninfected kidneys, the study said.”

Dr. Vishnu Potluri, the study’s lead author and a nephrology fellow at the U of Pennsylvania, told Christensen:

“The key thing about hepatitis C is that millions of Americans have this infection and most don’t know that they have it, it’s mild and takes many years for it to progress.”

Christensen continued: “Until a few years ago, there weren’t really good options to treat hepatitis C. Now, there are drugs with high cure rates, Potluri said. The transplant community realized that you could transplant a kidney from someone with hepatitis C and start treating them right away, Potluri said, and the early trials found the infection could be cured after the transplant.”

Hopefully, this study will signal a change for the system in the U.S., where nearly 40 per cent of hepatitis C-infected kidneys donated between January 2018 and March 2019 were discarded.

Christensen’s story is right here.





KWlogo2

Don’t forget that Kamloops’ 2019 Kidney Walk is set for Sunday, Sept. 22, at McDonald Park. You are able to register starting at 10 a.m., with the walk to begin at 11.

The Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation.

A few numbers for you: Kidney Walkers in B.C. and Yukon have walked 26 million kilometres over the past 12 years. That is more than 67 return trips to the moon. . . . They have raised more than $2.5 million in support of kidney patients. . . . The Kidney Walk helps the Kidney Foundation raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon. . . .

As of mid-August, in the region served by Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, there were 1,378 patients with chronic kidney disease being monitored by nephrologists. Of those, 140 had undergone transplants, and 114 were on dialysis. . . . As of Aug. 27, there were 68 people in our area on the pre-transplant list. . . . In 2018, there were 339 kidney transplants performed in B.C., a one-year record.

My wife, Dorothy, will be celebrating the sixth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk. In her six walks, she has raised more than $15,000. If you would like to support her, you may do so right here.

Kidney donor: If you want to have a good community, you have to give to that community

So . . . how was your day?

As good as it might have been, there isn’t any way it was as great as was mine.

Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about it.

I was present at an event on Wednesday morning at which a woman said: “If you want to have a good community, you have to give to that community.”

She was three weeks from having donated a kidney to a stranger.

——

The Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathers on the second Wednesday and second Saturday of each month. We are there to provide support and share experiences with others who are or have been impacted by kidney disease.

On Wednesday, we were 15 people strong. One attendee has been doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) for a few months as he awaits a transplant. Another is preparing to start PD dialysis as he, too, waits for a transplant. There were others on hand who are dealing with kidney disease in one stage or another, one of whom does hemo-dialysis three times a week. There also were two people there, including my wife, Dorothy, who have had transplants.

Understand that these gatherings are completely informal. We meet in the Barside Lounge and Grill inside Chances Casino, have coffee, maybe some breakfast, and talk about our kidney-related experiences.

This time, as we were getting comfortable, a stranger strolled to our table and pulled up a chair. As we do in these instances, we went around the table, introducing ourselves and telling our stories.

When it got to the new person, I am sure the others were like me, expecting to hear from someone who recently had been diagnosed with kidney disease.

Instead, she started with: “I donated a kidney . . . three weeks ago today.” Her voice touched by emotion, she proceeded to tell us that she had given a kidney to a complete stranger.

After making the decision to be a living donor, she had begun the process by sitting down at her computer and Googling “BC Transplant living donor.” That led to her giving a kidney to a stranger — he isn’t a stranger any more — at Vancouver General Hospital.

“He’s a single father of two,” she said, “and I’m touched by that.”

One of the attendees asked: “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well,” she replied. “A little discomfort . . . but I had a knee replaced last year and this was a breeze compared to that.”

When asked why she had decided to be a living donor, she responded: “I feel like I’m the luckiest person . . . it wasn’t a religion thing or anything.

“If you want to have a good community, you have to give to that community.”

Think about that for a moment or two.

And now she wants to be an advocate for organ donation and transplantation.

She wants to have a good community, so she will give to that community.

Yes, there are good people among us. Sometimes you don’t even have to go looking for them; they come to you.

It was a great day, indeed.




Cree rapper opens up about kidney situation. . . . Victoria preschool owner donating to stranger

Karmen Omeasoo is known in the music world as Hellnback. He is a Cree rapper who made quite a name for himself as an Indigenous performer. When he was 19, he learned that he had Type 2 diabetes; now he’s nearing 40 and about to go on dialsyis. . . . “My kidney function right now is at seven per cent,” he told Lenard Monkman of CBC News. “Seven per cent out of 100.” . . . Omeasoo is referring to his GFR (glomerular filtration rate). As a point of reference, my wife’s GFR was 11 when she began dialysis; six years after transplant, it’s in the mid-60s. . . . Monkman’s piece on Omeasoo is right here, and it is terrific. It is worth reading as Omeasoo details the symptoms and what he has been through to this point.


Three cheers to Kim Thorsen, the owner of Ross Bay Preschool in Victoria. She is preparing to donate a kidney, and she knows that it will go to a complete stranger. According to a story by CHEK-TV in Victoria: “Altruistic donors are incredibly rare. Of the 335 kidney transplants in B.C. last year, 100 were from living donors. But only four of those donations went to total strangers.” . . . More from this story: “As a living donor, Thorsen would go to the top of the transplant list in the rare event she needed a transplant. And even though she had no doubts before, Kim recently learned her kidney will most likely go to a child.” . . . “I’d be okay helping anyone,” Thorsen said, “but knowing it might help a child is amazing.” . . .

If you are contemplating being a kidney donor, it is important for you to understand that should you have issues with your remaining kidney at any time post-surgery, you would go to the top of the list. That is something is stressed in the preparatory period leading up to surgery.

CHEK-TV’s full story is right here.



Dorothy Drinnan had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. Now she is preparing to take part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk. We will walk in Kamloops on Sept. 22 at McDonald Park, with registration at 10 a.m., and the walk at 11. . . . If you would like to be part of Dorothy’s team by supporting her with a donation, you are able to do so right here. She has been Kamloops’ No. 1 individual fundraiser each of the past five years.