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.

Kamloops woman looks for kidney as CIHI reports transplants are up but people are dying on waiting lists

Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV stopped by our home on Thursday as he worked on a story involving local reaction to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Chad spoke with Dorothy, my wife who had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. As you will see by watching his story right here, he also chatted with Julie Dodds of Kamloops.

Julie has a genetic kidney disease — Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1 — and has reached Stage 4 kidney failure. She needs a kidney and is hoping to get one before she has to go on dialysis.

I told her story right here early in August.

——

The Canadian Institute for Health Information issued a report on Thursday that indicates there were 2,782 organ transplants performed in Canada in 2018.

According to the report, which showed a 33 per cent increase in transplants since 2009, the first of 10 years covered here:

“At the end of 2018, there were 4,351 people on wait lists for organ transplants (2,890 active and 1,461 on hold). Additionally, 223 people died that year while on a wait list for an organ transplant.

“The increased need for organ transplantation is in part being driven by the rising rate of Canadians living with end-stage kidney disease, which went up 32 per cent over the 10 years studied.”

Greg Webster, the CIHI’s director of acute and ambulatory care information services, pointed out that “more than 4,000 Canadians are still on a waiting list for a transplant, and many die each year while waiting.

“We know that organ transplants save lives. For most organs, patient survival is greater than 80 per cent after five years.”

Also from the report: “(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.”

Some highlights from the report:

Kidneys (1,706) and livers (533) were the top organs transplanted, followed by lungs (361), hearts (189) and pancreases (57).

As of Dec. 31, 2018, more patients were on wait lists for kidneys (3,150) and livers (527), compared with lungs (270), hearts (157) and pancreases (156).

Of the 762 deceased organ donors, 60 per cent were male. Of the 555 living organ donors, 63 per cent were female.

For deceased donors, the average number of organs used for transplantation was three for all donors and 4 for donors ages 39 and younger.

The complete report is available right here.



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)

Details of 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk to be announced today . . .

If you are in the vicinity of downtown Kamloops this afternoon (Monday, Aug. 19), feel free to join organizers of the 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk for a news conference at St. Andrews on the Square, 159 Seymour St.

We will be announcing details of the 2019 Walk, introducing this year’s honourees, and accepting the largest single donation in the event’s 10-year history.

It all starts at 2 p.m.



Just in case you missed them, here are stories about two people who live in Kamloops, both in need of a kidney transplant.

Vic Morin was profiled by Todd Sullivan of Kamloops This Week in March, and that story is right here.

Julie Dodds went public earlier this month through a post on Facebook, after which Eric Thompson of kamloopsmatters.com wrote a story that is right here.



A major story involving adult lung transplants broke late last week in Vancouver where a machine has been developed that, according to a news release, “allows lungs to live outside the body for up to 12 hours after retrieval.” . . . The news release continues: “Lungs that might initially be rejected for transplant can be reassessed, repaired and reconditioned in a bubble-like machine.” . . . This is absolutely huge news for the 40 adults waiting for transplants in B.C. . . . The complete news release is right here.

Julie Dodds searching for kidney donor. . . . Turns to Facebook. . . . Husband builds website to help

Unless you have experienced it, you don’t have any idea how hard it is, how much courage it takes, to ask someone for one of their kidneys.

Seriously.

This isn’t like asking someone — friend or family — for $20, or to borrow a book or a lawn mower from a neighbour.

No.

JulieScreenGrab
A screen grab from the website that Allan Dodds has created for his wife, Julie, to help in her search for a kidney. The website is at youdontneedtwo.com.

You are asking someone, maybe even a stranger, to take some time out of their life and to give you one of their internal organs.

Believe it or not, one of the things you have to deal with before you get to the asking stage is denial.

First, you are in denial that you have kidney disease.

Once you admit to yourself that, yes, you have kidney disease, you go into denial again because you just know that things aren’t as bad as the nephrologists are telling you. Surely, you think, someone misread one or two tests . . . or 12 or 14.

By now you are feeling fatigue, but you tell yourself that it will go away.

But it doesn’t. It lingers and, in fact, gets worse.

And now you’re told that you have Stage 4 kidney disease.

How do I know this? Because my wife, Dorothy, went through all of this before she had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013.

She had been born with one kidney, but that wasn’t discovered until she was 29 years of age. Years later, when the time came to go on dialysis (she did peritoneal dialysis for almost four years), she went through all the stages of denial. When it came to asking family members or friends for a kidney, she found it extremely hard because she didn’t want to burden anyone with her problems.

Julie Dodds of Kamloops has experienced all of that, but, like Dorothy, reality has set in.

Dorothy and I had coffee with Julie’s husband, Allan, last week, so I knew a bit about Julie’s situation. On Tuesday, Julie turned to Facebook in the hopes of finding a donor.

She wrote:

So the day has come . . .

Many of you already know, but it may still be news to some — I suffer from a genetic kidney disease called Medullary Kidney Disease Type 1, and have reached Stage 4

JulieDodds
JULIE DODDS

kidney failure. My kidneys are failing and I need a LIVING KIDNEY DONOR to have the best chance at life.

I understand that this is a huge request, but for myself, for my husband, who wants nothing other than to be able to save me from all of this, for my three boys, who still need their mom to be present and healthy in their lives, it would mean absolutely everything.

The unknown — what will my life look like? — has been very stressful, but the outlook for a living donor transplant is my best-case scenario, hands down.

WILL YOU HELP?

• Any healthy adult can donate one of their kidneys — and, thanks to paired kidney exchange, you don’t have to be a blood-type match to the recipient!

• You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life.

• Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions.

• The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally two weeks after 1-2 days in hospital.

• The donor will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate her/him as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests.

I am listed at the St. Paul’s Hospital living donor program at 604-806-9027, or you can go to the BC Transplant website (www.transplant.bc.ca) for more information. Should you choose to call and say you are interested in donating to me, you are under no obligation and can back away at any point.

Please feel free to ask any questions and follow along on this journey. Your support will mean so much to our family.

Also, please share this . . . you never know who this will reach and could be my person!

Thank you.

Julie and family.

——

A few notes about Stage 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) . . .

The key number to people with kidney disease is the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). If you are in the company of people with CKD, you often will hear them ask: “What are you at?” In other words, “What’s your GFR?”

Those with kidney disease have their blood checked regularly, which is how the GFR is found.

Once a person’s GFR slips to between 30 and 15, they are in Stage 4, which means that a kidney transplant or dialysis (hemo- or peritoneal) is looming.

When the GFR falls below 15, the person has kidney failure, and it’s time for dialysis or a transplant.

——

If you need a kidney transplant, the best you can hope for is a living donor who is a sibling.

Failing that, you are able to enter the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. By doing that, you are hoping to find someone who is a match and willing to give you a kidney.

In the end, Dorothy got a kidney through that program. Her best friend was eager — yes, eager — to donate a kidney, but she wasn’t a match. Through the Paired Exchange, she agreed to donate a kidney to someone, but only if Dorothy got one from someone else. That’s exactly what happened.

To this day, we don’t know who gave Dorothy a kidney, nor do we know who got the friend’s kidney.

—-

If you are contemplating being a donor, it’s worth keeping in mind that you will have to undergo a battery of tests before you are selected. During these tests, if you are found to have any medical issues, you will be able to get treatment. While that likely would end your chances of being a donor, it just might lengthen your life expectancy.

Should you end up being a donor, doctors will tell you that were something to go wrong with your remaining kidney, you would go to the top of the waiting list for a transplant.

If you are at all interested in helping Julie, call the number at St. Paul’s Hospital. Do some research. Learn about the kidneys — how and why they function.

And always remember that, as Julie mentioned, you aren’t under any obligation and are able to change your mind at any time.

——

Julie’s husband, Allan, has a website up and running, too. It is called You Don’t Need Two, and you will find it right here.