With Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk set for Sunday, my wife, Dorothy, along with friends Freda and Howard Brown, got together with Jill Sperling of Kamloops TV station CFJC on Thursday. OK, I was there, too.
We met at McDonald Park, the site of the Walk, where we chatted about kidneys, transplantation, dialysis and the Kidney Walk.
Dorothy had her transplant six years ago, after almost four years of peritoneal dialysis. Freda recently began doing hemo-dialysis; she does three runs a week at Royal Inland Hospital. Howard was hoping to donate a kidney to his wife and spent the past nine months undergoing all of the necessary tests. However, one of the tests turned up a kidney stone, so he has been disqualified, at least for now.
There’s all that and more in this piece right here.
In the TV piece referred to above, Howard Brown points out that if you are considering being a live kidney donor, you shouldn’t wait because the testing process takes some time.
But, at the same time, if the medical team finds any issues with your health, they will be dealt with ASAP. In Howard’s case, he already is being put in touch with a specialist in Kamloops and is hoping to have the kidney stone removed so that he can get back into a process that, hopefully, will end with him being a donor for his wife, Freda.
That brings us to Vic Morin, a friend who lives in the Dallas area of Kamloops and who also is in need of a kidney.
Vic has been a regular at Kamloops Kidney Support Group meetings for a while now, and was preparing to begin peritoneal dialysis (PD) in the near future. That is the same form of dialysis that my wife, Dorothy, did before she was fortunate enough to get a kidney from a live donor.
Because Dorothy had experience with PD, she and Vic have had many conversations over the past months. And we were quite excited to hear last week that he was to have a catheter surgically placed into his peritoneal cavity next week. That meant he was one giant step closer to beginning PD.
(BTW, someone who does PD hooks up to a machine called a cycler and does a fluid exchange seven nights a week while sleeping — toxic fluid out, clean fluid in, to be carried around all day in that cavity.)
Unfortunately, Vic’s kidney function deteriorated so rapidly that he was to begin hemo-dialysis on Friday. However, things now have been moved to Monday. He still is on schedule to have a catheter surgically installed on Wednesday so that he can begin training for peritoneal dialysis.
While all this is happening, the search continues for a live donor.
One of the reasons that I stopped writing about hockey here and turned mostly to renal-related items is that a lot of education is needed when it comes to kidney disease, dealing with kidney disease, organ donation and transplantation. . . . If I am able to provide enlightening information in this space I will be more than pleased. . . .
A few things you should know . . .
There is no cure for kidney disease. Once you have been diagnosed, that’s it; it doesn’t go away.
A person who has had a kidney transplant isn’t cured. For example, Dorothy takes anti-rejection drugs twice a day in order to keep her system from rejecting the organ that is foreign to her body. Those drugs also suppress her immune system so there are some precautions that have to be taken as she goes through daily life.
Should you choose to be a live donor, you don’t need to be the same blood-type as the person in need of a kidney. Instead, you are able to donate through the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry. In short, your kidney goes to someone else, but only on the condition that the person you want to help gets one from another live donor. This is how Dorothy got her kidney — her best friend gave a kidney to someone (neither she nor Dorothy have any idea who it went to), and Dorothy got one from someone else. No, we don’t know a name, nor do we have any idea how many donors and recipients were involved in that particular chain.
If you are being tested and an issue with your health is discovered, it will be dealt with ASAP. In Howard’s case, a doctor at the renal clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver got him in touch with a specialist in Kamloops in short order.
A donor will spend a couple of days in hospital — Dorothy’s friend had surgery on a Monday and was released from hospital on Wednesday. It is suggested that a donor take it easy — no heavy lifting, for example — for up to six weeks and then it’s full-speed ahead. I know of one donor who was back to jogging in three weeks.
A donor also will continue to be monitored by the medical community. Should there be serious issues with the remaining kidney, a donor would automatically go to the top of the transplant list.
And, yes, a person is able to live with one kidney.
I would never pressure anyone to be a donor. If you are at least thinking about it, I would only ask that you do some research.
If you are thinking about being a donor, feel free to call the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital (604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should you make the call and be asked who will be the recipient, feel free to mention Freda Brown or Louis Victor Morin.
Understand, too, that the people who work in renal clinics are big on privacy — I mean, they are really, really big on privacy. Everything you say or do will be kept confidential.
As well, a donor is able to change his/her mind and walk away at any time during the process.
Don’t forget that the 10th annual Kidney Walk Kamloops is scheduled for Sunday (Sept. 22) at McDonald Park on the North Shore. . . . We will begin registering folks at 10 a.m.; we will go for a walk at 11.
Larry Read, who is so involved in our community, will be the emcee, again. Hugh McLennan and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor will be in attendance as the honourees for this year’s walk. When Hugh needed a kidney almost two years ago, Louis, his longtime friend, stepped up and gave him one.
As well, the Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation. A year ago, they served more than 100 breakfasts.
The Kidney Walk helps raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon.
Dorothy will celebrate the sixth anniversary of her transplant on Monday. She will spend part of Sunday taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk; she also helps Edna Humphreys and me pull the whole thing together.
If you would like to help out — Vic Morin is part of her support team — you are able to make a donation right here.