Teenage transplant hopeful named COTS ambassador for 2022 . . . Robson, B.C., resident waits, hopes for new kidney

The Children’s Organ Transplant Society of BC has named Zach Tremblay of Robson, B.C., as its 2022 Ambassador.

Zach, a graduate of Stanley Humphries Secondary in Castlegar, will turn 19 in March and is a candidate for a kidney transplant. Born with renal hypoplasia-dysplasia, he has had one transplant, on June 1, 2017, but there was a problem and the ‘new’ kidney had to be removed.

Two years ago, his mother, Jana, told Gord McIntyre of Postmedia what had happened:

“What should have been a fairly routine four-hour surgery lasted about eight hours. They finally came and found my husband and me to tell us that a technical error had been made during the surgery and it cut off the blood flow to the kidney.”

McIntyre added: “Two more surgeries were performed overnight trying to save the kidney. When a test the next morning showed the kidney was not functioning, Zach required a fourth operation within 24 hours to remove the failed organ.”

He has made the transition from peritoneal dialysis to hemodialysis, but that has meant travelling to Trail three times a week because there isn’t a facility in Castlegar. At one point, early in 2020, he and Jana were forced to live at Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver for a period of time so that Zach could do hemodialysis there, while he waited to turn 17. He had to be 17 in order for the hospital in Trail to take over his treatments.

What all of this means, of course, is that Zach is well-positioned for this new position as the 2022 Ambassador for COTS. Not only that, but he already has had an impact in the world of organ donation.

Here’s a note that Joan Alexander, a friend of Jana’s, posted on Facebook on Jan. 18:

“Several years ago, on this day, I became an NDD (non-directed kidney donor). Zach got me started on my journey and, although I was not a match for him, I was able to donate to someone else. I am well, healthy and would donate again if I could.

“As an active volunteer for The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Atlantic Branch PEI, I advocate and raise funds for donors and recipients.

“Look at Zach now! He is the 2022 Ambassador of the Children’s Organ Transplant Society! He continues to wait for a miracle and struggles with all of the health implications that long-term dialysis brings.

“Please consider being tested for Zach.”

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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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Time is everything. This is why we promise registering as an organ donor should only #TakeTwoMinutes. That’s faster than microwave popcorn! #Register2Give

Zach facing one more speed bump . . . Mom: What we really need is a matching kidney

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So . . . you’ve got kidney disease . . . you go on dialysis . . . you get a new kidney.

Easy peasy! Right?

Oh, if only it was that easy. If only the process wasn’t so damn heart-breaking in some instances.

Zach Tremblay, a 17-year-old from Robson, B.C., needs a kidney. He has been on dialysis, peritoneal or hemo, since 2014. He had a live donor transplant in 2017 but there were complications and it didn’t work out.

He was doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) at home, but it began to lose its effectiveness as 2019 wound down, and he and his mother, Jana, ended up at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where he was transitioned to hemodialysis.

That transition included the removal of a catheter that was used for PD and the insertion of a fistula to make hemo a bit easier by allowing an increase in blood flow.

So much for that.

On Thursday, Jana posted on Facebook:

“I guess to be blunt is best. The fistula surgery failed. We found out on Monday that the fistula has clotted off and did not grow. Fistula surgeries have a 25% failure rate, and he fell into that 25%. We are heartbroken and sad and angry and all the things. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t change that the surgery was a failure. It is unusable as an access for dialysis.

“We aren’t sure when, but another fistula surgery will be scheduled. Please keep sharing his story when you see it.

“A fistula is great, but what we really need is a matching kidney.”

——

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

——

Shortly after Jana’s post hit Facebook, Joan Alexander replied with an emotional plea of her own:

“This is hard to read and even harder to live! Zach’s mom . . . has shared the most recent update on his journey with kidney disease. Zach is the reason I became a living kidney donor.

“I wonder sometimes if people get tired of reading my posts about organ donation. Well, I will not stop until Zach receives his gift! Please take a moment and read more about his journey on Jana’s page or on the public page: Zach Needs a Kidney . . . Like Yesterday!

“Getting tested to become a donor is so easy.”

——

Meanwhile, there was more news from Vancouver where Ferris Backmeyer continues her battle.

Her mother, Lindsey, reported via Facebook that Ferris celebrated something of a birthday . . .

“Well happy half birthday little miss! 3.5 years old . . . oh my!” Lindsey wrote. “Celebrated with a night-time discharge from the hospital and (Thursday) is a day completely free of appointments and dialysis!! She had HD (Wednesday) followed by 3 flushes of her PD cath and a sample was taken late (Wednesday) afternoon. The results came back at 8pm and cell counts continue to improve. Original samples haven’t grown anything so we’ve stopped the IV and oral antifungals. Which meant we could pull the IV and sleep in ‘our own’ beds!!

“Ferris is so happy to have her ‘colouring hand’ back! I’m hoping she will start to feel better as it’s become quite obvious with the IV med anyways that it really makes her feel like crap. Blood pressure has been pretty high lately and I’m fairly certain she’s lost some real weight and is ‘wet’ at 11.3kg. Feeling such a strong need to get back on PD so we can get more calories into her. The fluid restriction on HD makes it so ridiculously tough to grow her. She’s also pretty anemic so hoping once that improves we will see better energy. She seems to be recovering well from surgery and hasn’t had any Tylenol for over 24hrs.

“Plan is to be admitted Tuesday to start using the PD cath. It’ll be a hybrid of HD and PD for a little bit until we can hopefully switch over fully, pull the HD line and come home. Middle of August maybe? That’s the most current plan anyway.”

——

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


Mike




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Transplant really a kidney miracle . . . Others, like Zach Tremblay are waiting, hoping . . . Can you help?

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Kara looks over her new piano on Christmas morning, as her Dad and Grandma look on.

If you are a regular here, you will be aware that Dorothy, my wife of 47 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013.

If you’re not, well, here’s the story . . .

We will be forever grateful to the two people most responsible for what really has been a

DandK-20180922
Grandma giving Kara a lesson in September 2018.

new lease on life. Dorothy’s best friend, who has been a bestie for a long, long time, was convinced from the outset that she would be the donor. However, as it turned out, she wasn’t a match for Dorothy.

Still, she wanted to make sure that Dorothy got a new kidney. So they both went into the Living Kidney Donor Program. And that is how Dorothy came to get a new kidney.

Her best friend, who has never wanted attention for what she did, gave a kidney to a stranger, but on the condition that Dorothy get one from someone else, which is what happened. We don’t know who got the friend’s kidney; we don’t know who was Dorothy’s donor.

But as far as Dorothy is concerned, her best friend was her donor.

What has a new kidney meant for Dorothy?

For starters, it got her off dialysis. She had done peritoneal dialysis (PD) for four years prior to the transplant.

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Kara, with one of her first gifts from Grandma.

It also meant that she was here for the birth of her first grandchild — Kara. She lives with her father, our son Todd, and his wife, Joanna, in Burnaby.

It also has allowed Dorothy to experience, among so many other things, the joy of four Christmases with an energetic and oh, so happy Kara.

Dorothy plays piano by ear and really loves it. She volunteers at a seniors’ residence in Kamloops and often is asked to play piano there. Her love for the piano has meant that her granddaughter has twice received small ones for Christmas, including a toy miniature grand this time around.

What I am trying to say through this meandering message is this: I would hope that you would at least consider being a live kidney donor. The difference such a decision could make in another person’s life is incalculable.

Remember that a transplant isn’t a cure for kidney disease. There quite simply isn’t a cure. Still, a transplant is nothing short of a miracle for the recipient.

Yes, Dorothy and I experienced a miracle more than six years ago and we are thankful every day.

So, please, at least think about it.

——

There are a lot of people out there who are waiting and hoping. They awaken every single day and wonder if this will be the day they get THE phone call . . . a match has been found . . . there’s a date for surgery . . . the load has started to lift.

People like Zach Tremblay, a 16-year-old from Robson, B.C., which is across the Columbia River from Castlegar. Zach now spends more than half of every day doing dialysis.

On Saturday, Zach’s mother, Jana, posted this update on Facebook:

“As 2019 draws to a close, and we enter the 5th year of dialysis, I can’t help but be a little sad we are still waiting. So many shares, so many messages from people asking how to be tested, and no matches so far.

“2019 was rough on him. September’s scare and hospital stay being especially trying, and bringing about many changes in his energy level, anxiety and, in turn, his therapy.

“He now does 14 hours of therapy a day. So he spends more than half his 24-hour day doing dialysis. No 16-year-old should be spending the majority of his time doing this.

“Please share his story far and wide and as often as possible and help us make 2020 HIS year.

“May 2020 bring nothing but great things to you all . . . and as always, we appreciate each and every one of you for staying on the ride and loving and supporting our boy and our family.”

(I wrote about Zach in October, and you can find that piece right here.)

——

Joan Alexander, a friend of Jana’s, followed with this:

“As my two-year anniversary as an anonymous kidney donor gets closer, I am beginning Zacha social media blitz to get Zachary Tremblay the kidney he needs!

“My journey began because of Jana Tremblay’s posts about organ donation. As the mother of two healthy sons, I immediately was drawn into this family’s story. Although I was not able to donate to Zach directly, I decided to donate anonymously and someone in British Columbia became my recipient.

“How can you help? Share this post, make (the accompanying two-year-old) photo of Zach your profile pic, learn more (call the St. Paul’s Living Donor Program), get tested, say a prayer or make a wish . . . all of this and more will help.

“It is no small thing to donate an organ. But I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could! Message me if you would like to talk.

“Zach now is 16 years old. He is hooked up to dialysis 14 hours each and every day.”

——

As we prepare to head into a new year, it would be terrific if it really became a year to remember for people like Jana and Zach Tremblay and their family.

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

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