Friends waiting for kidney transplants forced to wait even longer by pandemic . . . We thought three were getting close to getting THE phone call

The Kamloops Kidney Support Group, which used to meet twice a month, hasn’t held a get-together since March 11. And we don’t have any idea when we next will see each other.

Look, the novella coronavirus is horrible, absolutely terrible, but, gee, it’s timing could have been better, at least for a few kidney friends.

Prior to the arrival of the virus and everything it brought with it, we had hoped that three of our regulars— each of them battling kidney disease — were nearing an eagerly awaited new chapter in their lives.

Two of them are doing peritoneal dialysis at home, meaning they hook up to a unit known as a cycler that performs a fluid exchange while they sleep. This procedure takes about eight hours every single night. There aren’t any nights off.

The other person is doing hemodialysis, a procedure that calls for three visits a week to the dialysis unit at the local hospital, with each run taking about four hours.

Two months ago, when our group last met, all three were alive with nervous anticipation as they looked forward to impending medical appointments in Vancouver. The medical community is extremely tight-lipped when transplants hang in the balance, and rightfully so, but we all were feeling (hoping?) that these meetings meant that the end of depending on a machine to keep them alive was nigh.

Then came the coronavirus and cancelled appointments, and, yes, disappointment. And now, with organ transplants seemingly on hold, at least for the short term, it is back to the waiting game.

But there isn’t a kidney patient out there who hasn’t had to deal with adversity and who doesn’t live one day at a time.

These friends also have to deal with the fact that they have weakened immune systems so are high-risk at the best of times, never mind when something like this coronavirus may be lurking around the next corner.

My wife, Dorothy, was one of the lucky ones, having had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. Now she takes anti-rejection medications twice a day. These meds stop her body from rejecting the kidney that really is a foreign body making a home inside her.

But those same life-saving meds leave her with a compromised immune system, so, yes, we are extra careful these days. We order groceries online and pick them up. We get meat from a butcher shop by phoning in an order and picking it up. We’ve ordered wine online . . . and jigsaw puzzles . . . and crossword books . . . and on and on.

Meanwhile, Ed Warkentin of Oliver, B.C., drives to Penticton three times a week to undergo hemodialysis. His wait for a new kidney has been ongoing for years and he hasn’t any idea as to what lays ahead.

Annick Lim of Penticton underwent a kidney transplant more than 20 years ago. She has been self-isolating for more than 50 days and, although she has been called back to work, she can’t go because of her compromised immune system.

She also is dealing with something with which my wife has had to come to grips. Nephrologists monitor transplant patients through regular bloodwork. As long as you’re feeling OK, better not to venture into such situations these days, they both were told.

Chelsea Powrie of castanet.net has more on Warkentin and Lim right here.

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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


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


In a perfect world, every single person in need of a kidney transplant would get one pre-emptively, meaning before he or she had to experience dialysis. So why aren’t there more pre-emptive transplants? . . . Jim Myers, a National Kidney Foundation advocate in the United States, writes about that right here.


KKSG has two gatherings on tap . . . Gillis to take “short” coaching break to get kidney transplant

The Kidney Foundation of Canada reports that 850 million people worldwide, including four million Canadians, are estimated to be living with chronic kidney disease.

If you are someone who has been impacted by kidney disease, the Kamloops Kidney Support Group is here for you. We meet on the second Saturday and the second Wednesday of every month. We will gather on Saturday, Feb. 8, 9 a.m., and Wednesday, Feb. 12, 10 a.m., at Chances (Barside Lounge and Grill), 1250 Halston Ave.

There isn’t anything formal about KKSG. We have breakfast and talk about life and kidneys. You won’t get any medical advice, but we will share our experiences and offer our support, whether you are pre-dialysis or on dialysis, a kidney donor or a recipient, a family member, or anything in between.

For more information, call Edna Humphreys at 250-376-6361 or Dorothy Drinnan at 250-573-2988.


Stephen Gillis’s big day is almost here.

Gillis is the Vancouver minor hockey coach who was in the headlines when his peewee team mounted a campaign, including a video that went viral, in an attempt to find him a kidney.

On Feb. 18, Gillis is to get a kidney from long-time friend Michael Teigen, who saw the video, offered to donate and was proved to be a match.

At the time Gillis, 39, got his surgery date, he wrote on Instagram: “Eighteen has always been my favourite number. It was my jersey number as a kid and now it’s my transplant date!”

Last weekend, as Gillis and his team wrapped up their regular season, he discovered another surprise.

As he wrote on Facebook:

“I was taken back and surprised to find our team, as well as the other Vancouver Minor Hockey Association Atom rep and Peewee rep teams, have placed stickers (made by our amazing manager, Tara Rodas) on their helmets that feature a kidney and No. 18 (my old jersey number) in support of my upcoming kidney transplant. Even our opponents and friends at Burnaby Winter Club added them to their helmets for (Sunday’s) game. I am humbled, honoured, and very touched by this beautiful gesture by my team, our parent group, all the other teams and my association.

“I am receiving a kidney thanks to the efforts of last year’s amazing team and parent group, and my current outstanding team and parent group have been such an amazing support system throughout this year, keeping my spirits high with their endless support. I am so thankful and grateful for my hockey family and their unwavering support, without them I truly may not be here.”

Gillis and his team are scheduled to play this weekend in an outdoor tournament — the Apex Winter Classic in Hedley, B.C.

“We then prepare for the playoffs,” he wrote, “with a short break for a transplant. Let’s go squad!”