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.

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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.




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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.


Having transplant in Vancouver? Kidney suite might be for you. . . . KKSG gatherings set for September

If you or someone you know is a candidate for a kidney transplant and lives outside of Vancouver, you will learn in the lead-up that a stay of at least a couple of months in the big city will be necessary after surgery.

And with the cost of accommodations being what they are in the big smoke, well, you might have questions.

You should know, then, that there are kidney suites available in Vancouver . . .

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC & Yukon Branch offers seven kidney suites within Vancouver. These are for post-kidney-transplant recipients who have come to Vancouver from outside the Lower Mainland and need to stay in town for up to two months after surgery. These suites are fully furnished, and are located near major transit lines.

These suites are free for those who meet our financial criteria (low income) and just $35 per night for those who do not.

There is more right here.


If you happen to live in Kamloops and area, you may be wondering about the next gatherings of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group (KKSG). . . . We get together on the second Wednesday and second Saturday of every month. In September, that will be Sept. 11, 10 a.m., and Sept. 14, 9 a.m. . . . All coffee drinking and eating of eggs takes place at the Barside Lounge and Grill at Chances Casino, 1250 Halston Ave. . . . Believe me when I say that these gatherings are informal.


SOME ODDS AND ENDS . . .

One in 10 Canadians live with kidney disease or are at risk – most are unaware of this. . . .

You can lose up to 80 per cent of your kidney function before experiencing symptoms. . . .

As of mid-August, in the region served by Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, there were 1,378 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) being monitored by nephrologists. Of those, 140 have undergone transplants, and 114 are on dialysis. . . .

As of December 2018, there were 665 people in B.C. waiting for organ transplants, with 528 of those being kidney patients. In 2018, 335 kidney transplants were performed in B.C.


Some numbers from a piece by the editorial board of The New York Times from earlier this week:

About 20 Americans die each week waiting for organs. . . .

More than 100,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for organs, and only about 35,000 will receive them in 2019. . . .

That piece also included this:

“Far too few people are donating organs to begin with, and far too few of the organs that have been donated are making their way to patients in waiting. Experts say that misconceptions about donor eligibility requirements and, in some states, cumbersome registration processes are preventing nearly half of those who support organ donation from becoming registered donors. Outdated standards are causing transplant surgeons to reject some 75,000 usable organs every year, according to a Washington Post analysis. And an astounding lack of accountability and oversight in the nation’s creaking, monopolistic organ transplant system is allowing hundreds of thousands of potential organ donations to fall through the cracks.”

The complete piece is right here and it’s well worth your time if you are interesting in the American transplantation system.





What happens when a donor and recipient meet? . . . 2019 World Transplant Games set to open. . . . Interesting project underway in Winnipeg

If you have been impacted by kidney disease, please keep in mind that the Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathers this morning (Wednesday, Aug. 14), 10 o’clock, at the Barside Lounge and Grill inside Chances at 1250 Halston Ave. . . . Feel free to join us. . . .

If you are in the vicinity of downtown Kamloops on Monday (Aug. 19), organizers of the 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk are holding a news conference, 2 p.m., at St. Andrews on the Square, 159 Seymour St. Join us as we announce particulars of this year’s Walk, and also introduce the event’s honourees.


What’s it like when the recipient of a kidney transplant meets the donor? Well, Chris, 21, a recipient, met his donor, Abraham, 19, on Good Morning America recently and, as you might expect, things got emotional. . . . Abraham, whose mother has started the process of becoming a donor, was asked what he would say to anyone considering it, and he responded: “I would say go for it. Reach out to a hospital and see if you’re eligible and if you are eligible, really consider it. I was in the hospital for two days. I was off painkillers in five days. I feel great.” . . .  The whole story is right here.


A lexophile, thanks to a contest in The New York Times: England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.


Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune has a story right here about Doug Little, now 68, who was a 6-foot-3 forward on the Oregon Ducks basketball team in the early 1970s. . . . Today, Little is on the list and hoping for a kidney transplant.



The World Transplant Games open Saturday and run through Aug. 24 in NewcastleGateshead in the north-east area of England. . . . “The youngest participant,” reports Catherine Priestley, “is a six-year-old Argentinian girl who will compete in the ball throw, long jump and 50-metre sprint, with the oldest an 84-year-old French man taking part in the cycling, swimming and athletics.” . . . Priestley’s story is right here. . . . The Games’ website is right here. . . . It’s worth noting that the 2020 Canadian Transplant Games are scheduled for Winnipeg, Aug. 10-15.



There is an interesting project underway in Winnipeg with two doctors working to educate health care providers about how “to use a match equation than can pretty accurately predict a person’s risk of kidney failure, according to Michelle Gerwing of CTV News. . . . This all is aimed at early diagnosis of kidney disease. . . . As Dr. Navdeep Tangri, a nephrologist, explains: “If you have diabetes and kidney disease today there is a treatment out there that can delay dialysis by up to two decades and potentially prevent it all together, but all of that is non-applicable, we can’t start people on that treatment once their kidney function drops below 30-per cent.” . . . Gerwing’s story is right here.



Introducing the Kamloops Kidney Support Group — we’re here for you. . . . 2019 Kamloops Walk to hold news conference

Early each month, I post a message to Twitter that goes something like this:

Nearly 49,000 Canadians are being treated for kidney failure. If you are one, the Kamloops Kidney Support Group will gather Saturday, Aug. 10, 9 a.m., and Wednesday, Aug. 14, 10 a.m., at Chances (Barside Lounge and Grill), 1250 Halston Ave. Join us for breakfast and conversation. #kamloops @KidneyBCY

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I also post a similar message to Facebook and send a PSA (Public Service Announcement) to various media people and outlets in the Kamloops areas.

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So . . . allow me to tell you a bit about the Kamloops Kidney Support Group (KKSG).

It was founded by three women — Edna Humphreys, who has a son who has had a kidney transplant, Dorothy Drinnan and Margaret Thompson, both of whom are enjoying life after kidney transplants. Margaret has since moved to Edmonton, however, so we carry on while she watches with interest from afar.

The KKSG doesn’t have any affiliations, medical or otherwise. We are a bunch of folks who come together twice a month, over coffee and/or breakfast, and talk about our renal-related experiences.

No one has kept track, but I would guess that we have had contact with upwards of 50 different people over the time that we have been around. People come and people go; some are regulars and others show up perhaps when they feel a need for some support or when they have a question or two.

We meet twice a month — on the second Wednesday and second Saturday — and had 17 people attend our last gathering.

Two regulars recently have started dialysis — one hemo and the other peritoneal — as they wait for the phone call that hopefully will come soon, telling them there is a match and that a transplant is in the works.

There are other people in our group who are dealing with one type of kidney issue or another, all under medical care. We have one couple who have joined us a couple of times as they seek all the information they can find, their son having been diagnosed with kidney disease.

Dorothy, who was born with one kidney, had her transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. Prior to that, she spent almost four years doing peritoneal dialysis. At that time, there wasn’t a support group or anyone she could chat with — outside the medical community — or ask questions of in a search for information.

You are asking: What kind of information?

It could be answering questions about the interview process one goes through at St. Paul’s Hospital or Vancouver General Hospital in the lead up to a potential transplant.

It could be pointing out that there isn’t a cure for kidney disease — just because someone undergoes a transplant and gets a new (used) kidney doesn’t mean he/she is cured. Yes, it’s true. While there are cures for various kinds of cancer and other diseases, there isn’t a cure for kidney disease.

The trick is to learn how to live with it. Those of us involved with the KKSG hope that we are able to help people do just that.

If you have been impacted by kidney disease, feel free to check us out.

If you live in a community other than Kamloops and wonder if such a group really is worthwhile, I highly recommend it. If you would like more information, get in touch with us.

If you are in the Kamloops area, we will be at the Barside Lounge and Grill in Chances on Saturday, 9 a.m., and Wednesday, 10 a.m.



2019 KAMLOOPS KIDNEY WALK

NEWS CONFERENCE

WHAT: Organizers of the 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk have scheduled a news conference.

WHEN: Monday, Aug. 19, 2 p.m.

WHERE: St. Andrews on the Square, 159 Seymour St.

WHO: Organizers will outline plans. . . . Two honourees will be introduced. . . . Organizers will introduce and thank the largest single donor in the event’s 10-year history.

We look forward to seeing you there.

FMI: Edna Humphreys, 250-376-6361 (ednahumphreys@shaw.ca); Dorothy Drinnan, 250-573-2988 (ddrinnan52@gmail.com).