Getting flu shot not about you . . . Some thoughts on being living kidney donor

Every time I see people on social media making mention of how they haven’t had the flu in 1,000 years and have never had a flu shot, well, my blood boils and smoke comes out my ears.

People, people, people. This isn’t about you not getting the flu. A flu shot is to help prevent you, who may be a carrier, from passing it along to someone else, like maybe a transplant recipient who has a suppressed immune system because of the anti-rejection medications that they must take, or maybe a senior citizen — perhaps your own grandmother or grandfather — whose immune system isn’t strong enough to reject a flu bug.

Please, please, please . . . a flu shot isn’t about you; it’s about other people in your community.

Get your flu shot!


There were a couple of things that really jumped out at me when I read the report on organ transplantation in 2018 that was released Thursday by the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI).

Using data from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register, the report included: “There were 40,289 Canadians (excluding Quebec) living with end-stage kidney disease at the end of 2018, an increase of 35 per cent since 2009.”

An increase of 35 per cent in 10 years means that today there will be even more people living with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

That number — 40,289 — jumped off the page when I first read it.

The other note that really hit hard was this: “(In 2018), there were 555 living donors (people who donated a kidney or a lobe of liver) and 762 deceased donors in Canada. The number of deceased donors increased by 56 per cent between 2009 and 2018, whereas the number of living donors remained stable.”

I was more than a little surprised to read the “the number of living donors remained stable.”

More and more people are being impacted by CKD, and everyone needs to realize that there isn’t a cure for it. Once someone is diagnosed with kidney disease, that’s it . . . it’s there and it isn’t going anywhere.

At some point there will dialysis and, hopefully, a transplant.

There are two ways to get a kidney via transplant — from a deceased donor or from a live donor.

The best option, of course, is from a live donor, and people need to understand that you can make sure a recipient gets a kidney even if you don’t have the same blood type.

I am aware of a number of people in Kamloops who are waiting and hoping for transplants — like Julie Dodds, who was featured on CFJC-TV on Thursday; like Vic Morin and John Casey, both of whom are regulars at Kamloops Kidney Support Group meetings; like Ferris Backmeyer, who isn’t yet three years of age but is on dialysis for about 12 hours a day, every day of the year. There’s also Zach Tremblay, a 16-year-old from Robson, B.C., who continues to wait for the phone call.

Let’s say that you are a friend of Julie’s and would love to help, but you aren’t the same blood type. That being the case, you might still be able to give your kidney to someone else — yes, it might even be a complete stranger — while Julie would get a kidney from another person, who might be another stranger.

That is how the Living Kidney Donor Program works — aka Live Donor Exchange Program.

That is exactly how Dorothy, my wife, got her new kidney on Sept. 23, 2013. Her best friend was adamant that she wanted to give a kidney to Dorothy. However, the friend wasn’t a match. Both names went into the exchange program and in time matches were found and transplants were done.

If you are interested in more information, here you go:

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

——

Sam Thompson of Global News has more right here on the CIHI report. He spoke with Dr. Faisal Siddiqui of Transplant Manitoba, who told him that there still is a stigma when it comes to families talking about death and organ donation. “It’s a human nature aspect,” Dr. Siddiqui said, “that we just don’t like sitting around the kitchen table and saying, ‘when I die, this is what I want out of life, or what I want for me.’ ” . . . Dr. Siddiqui also explained that not everyone is able to be an organ donor. . . . That complete story is right here.


I have written here previously on the story involving Catherine Pearlman, and Monica and Eli Valdez. You may recall that Catherine was in a Los Angeles-area coffee shop one day when she saw a flyer that had been placed there by Monica, whose husband, Eli, needed a kidney. . . . Yes, Catherine ended up donating a kidney. . . . If you click right here, you will find a video in which the three of them tell their story. It’s worth the three-plus minutes to give it a watch. (Full disclosure: The video was put together by Hyundai, but it isn’t a commercial. Catherine drives a Hyundai. Oh, so do I.)

BTW, I am aware of two similar stories right here in Kamloops, both of which involve women who each gave a kidney to strangers. Susan Duncan’s story is right here, while Cheryl Vosburgh’s can be found right here.

Ready to go Kidney Walking in Kamloops. . . . Pearlman, Valdez talk about transplant. . . . Mother wants to make late son proud, donates kidney

Almost all is in readiness for Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk.

We will gather on Sunday at McDonald Park on the North Shore, with registration at 10 a.m., and the walk to begin at 11.

Edna Humphreys is the executive director of the Kamloops branch of the Kidney KWlogo2Foundation. I can tell you from experience that without her leadership and organizational skills, the Kidney Walk would experience some difficult times.

(It’s also worth noting that if it’s a renal-related activity in Kamloops, you can bet that Humphreys is in the forefront. Among other things, she is a co-founder of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group, and also is the lead organizer of a Christmas luncheon for dialysis patients and transplant recipients. With music by old friend Jesse Jones. Yessss!)

Anyway . . . Humphreys recently took time out from her busy schedule to talk with Todd Sullivan of Kamloops This Week about the 2019 Kidney Walk.

That story is right here.


One of my favourite renal-related stories involves a woman named Catherine Pearlman, who walked into a Los Angeles-area Starbucks on Dec. 30, saw a poster on a bulletin board, and decided that very moment to become a kidney donor. . . . The result was that Eli Valdez, a complete stranger, received one of her kidneys. . . . They told their story to today.com, and it’s all right here.

If you missed it earlier, Pearlman wrote about her experience for the Los Angeles Times, and that piece is right here.

Catherine’s husband, Jeff Pearlman, is a writer and published author. He wrote on his blog about what all of this meant to him. Here’s how he started it:

“It’s 10:15 am, and as I write this my wife Catherine is in surgery here at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center — donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.

“You read that correctly, but I recommend reading it again. My wife Catherine is in surgery donating one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.”

The complete piece is right here.

BTW, if you are a sporting fan and haven’t read Jeff’s book, Football for a Buck, you’re cheating yourself. It’s all about the USFL — remember that league? — and is loaded with especially juicy anecdotes, including some involving, yes, Donald Trump.


Laura Gillum’s son, Dean, was 23 months old when he drowned in the family’s backyard pool in the Pittsburgh area in 2015. His heart, lover and kidneys were donated.

“My son was amazing,” she told Lisa Washington of KDKA-TV. “At 23 months old, he saved three people’s lives. Not many people can say that, and even though he’s gone, I try every day to do something to make him proud of me.”

On March 7, Lisa donated a kidney to Brian Cox, a complete stranger. They met early in April.

“I just can’t comprehend why someone wouldn’t want to donate their kidney, so hopefully getting the message out, more people will want to do it and that they’ll want to educate themselves to find out just what everything entails,” Gillum said.

Washington’s complete story is right here.









Pearlman, Valdez talk about kidney transplant from experience. . . . BC Place lights up for PKD Awareness Day

Catherine Pearlman was in a Los Angeles-area coffee shop one day when she saw a flyer involving a man she had never met. That man, Eli Valdez, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. . . . Pearlman ended up donating a kidney to Valdez. . . . If you have ever wondered about the thought process involved in giving a kidney or what it means to be on the receiving end — like, what does it mean to have someone else’s organ in your body? — give this right here a listen because it is absolutely awesome. . . . Valdez especially bares his soul over the 45-minute conversation. I can tell you from experience that my wife, Dorothy, who had a transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, had many of the same feelings as did Valdez.

If you aren’t familiar with this story, Catherine’s husband, Jeff, who is a writer of note, posted a piece on his website shortly after the transplant. That piece is right here.

A couple of weeks later, Catherine wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times in which she described all that she and Eli had gone through. That piece is right here.


PKD Awareness Day takes place on an annual basis, always on Sept. 4. Millions of people worldwide, including more than 66,000 Canadians, live every day of their lives with PKD, or polycystic kidney disease. As the above tweet mentions, PKD “causes uncontrolled growth of cysts in the kidneys, often leading to kidney failure.” . . . According to the BC Renal Agency’s website, “autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease is the most common inherited renal disorder, and is the fourth-leading cause of end-stage renal disease in Canada.”

Watch for PKD Awareness Day in your community.