About pediatric kidney transplants, flu shots, curried turkey casserole . . .

I wrote earlier this week about Ferris Backmeyer, and you may be wondering how in the world someone who is only 2-1/2 years of age is able to undergo a kidney transplant.

Ferris, who lives in Kamloops with her mother, father and two sisters, has kidney disease. She has been doing peritoneal dialysis at home for 18 months now.

Her mother, Lindsey, recently revealed on Facebook that they have been given the OK to

Ferris
Ferris Backmeyer, 2-1/2 years old, needs a kidney transplant. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

look for a living kidney donor for Ferris.

“We have been told the donor process can take just as long as the transplant workup for Ferris,” Lindsey wrote, “so starting the search now is recommended.”

Obviously, Ferris isn’t going to get a kidney from a three-year-old living donor. So let’s look at a few things . . .

First, from the Kidney Foundation of Canada (kidney.ca):

“A living kidney donation comes most often from a family member such as a parent, child, brother or sister. A donor can also be a spouse, friend or co-worker. Or it can be a stranger. A genetic link between donor and recipient, although beneficial, is not always required. This is largely due to improved anti-rejection medications.

“A good living donor candidate is someone who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and usually less than 70 years of age. They must be in good general health . . .”

So if you are older than 18, you are eligible to be a kidney donor.

While it is preferred that donors be under the age of 70, there are stories of donors who have been older. Health, both physical and mental, plays a huge role in donor eligibility, no matter the age.

When it comes to children, it would seem that having a live donor is the best option.

A 1982 report published in The Journal of Pediatrics reached this conclusion:

“We conclude that because of donor availability, capacity for good donor-recipient matching, and minimization of time on dialysis, transplantation of adult kidneys into pediatric patients is preferable to awaiting the relatively uncommon pediatric cadaver donor. We further conclude that the procedure is warranted.”

Despite the passage of time, it doesn’t seem that there has been any change to that conclusion.

Meanwhile, there is this from webmd.com:

“The reason most hospitals suggest an age minimum of 18 for kidney donors isn’t because a young kidney is too small. Studies have shown that a kidney from a six-year-old is all right to transplant into an adult.

“Instead, the main reason is that people under 18 are minors and can’t legally give their ‘informed consent’ proving that they agree to the procedure. Also, some genetic kidney diseases won’t have started to cause symptoms yet in young children and teenagers, so it’s hard to know if their kidneys may be affected by disease. . . .

“Kidneys from younger donors seem to work better over the long term. But people who get older kidneys are just as likely to be alive five years after a transplant as those who receive younger kidneys. Plus, the chances of complications from the procedure, and of organ rejection — when someone’s immune system attacks their new kidney — are the same with kidneys from all age groups.

“The takeaway from these studies is that kidneys from older donors can work, but younger people in need of a kidney may want to consider being matched with younger donors.”

There also is this, from stanfordchildrens.org: “A child older than age two can generally receive an adult kidney. There is usually enough space in the child’s belly for the new kidney to fit.”


Yes, it is that time of the year, again.

I am married to a woman who had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. That doesn’t mean she has been cured of kidney disease; there isn’t a cure.

Having had a transplant, she must take anti-rejection medications in order to keep her system from rejecting the foreign object that now lives in the lower right side of her abdomen. Some of those medications — she takes them every 12 hours — are immunosuppressants, so her immune system is compromised.

So, yes, I get an annual flu shot. In fact, I got poked on Friday.

You have no idea how many people who are walking around out there have suppressed immune systems or are unable to get a flu shot for medical reasons.

Here is Nicole Basta of the U of Minnesota, the senior author of a study on “herd immunity,” in a story by Lisa Rapaport of Reuters:

“The more people who are vaccinated in a community, the lower the risk that influenza will be able to spread even if the vaccine does not perfectly protect against the disease.

“Influenza spreads by creating chains of transmission whereby one infected person infects additional people and those individuals infect others with whom they come in contact.”

Rapaport’s story is right here.

Flushot





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Kamloops family given OK to search for kidney donor for daughter . . . Ferris Backmeyer, at 2-1/2, in need of transplant

Faceoff2
Ferris Backmeyer joined her father, Pat, along with Dorothy Drinnan (left) and Margaret Thompson for the ceremonial faceoff at a Kamloops Blazers game on Feb. 1. (Photo: Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)

If you were in attendance on Feb. 1 as the Kamloops Blazers played host to the Prince George Cougars, you may have seen Ferris Backmeyer at centre ice.

Ferris took part in the ceremonial face-off prior to what was the second annual RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation game.

Ferris and her father, Patrick, were at centre ice, along with Dorothy Drinnan and Margaret Thompson, two women who have grown to be close friends since both have had kidney transplants.

Ferris and her family are hopeful that she soon will join that club, too.

Yes, Ferris, who is 2-1/2 years of age, needs a kidney, and her mother, Lindsey, has turned to Facebook to announce that the search for a donor officially is underway. In other words, potential donors now are able to contact the Living Kidney Donor Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver

Ferris
Ferris Backmeyer, at 2-1/2 years of age, is in need of a kidney transplant. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer/Facebook)

First, though, you should get to know Ferris, who made quite an impression when she and her father joined us a while back for a gathering of the Kamloops Kidney Support Group.

Michael Potestio of Kamloops This Week wrote about Ferris in April 2018.

“A few weeks after she was born,” Potestio wrote, “Ferris, now 14 months old, was informally diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino syndrome, a disorder characterized by kidney disease, vision loss and misshapen bones.

“The disease is caused by gene mutations and is so rare there are only about 20 known cases, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
“After she was born, Ferris wasn’t gaining weight and subsequent blood work showed abnormalities with her kidneys and liver.”

At that time, Lindsey told Potestio:

“The scariest part in the first few weeks was we didn’t know what was going on. And she was admitted to (B.C.) Children’s Hospital back when she was three weeks old and nobody really knew what was going on.

“It’s a bit disconcerting when the medical professionals can’t give you a diagnosis for your kid.”

Genetic testing later confirmed the diagnosis, and it wasn’t long before Ferris’s kidneys failed.

The Backmeyers, who also have two older daughters, have spent a lot of time at BCCH in Vancouver with Ferris, especially in the early days of kidney failure as medical staff got her started on dialysis. She has been doing peritoneal dialysis (PD) and it took a lot of testing to see just how much of the dialysis fluid her body comfortably could hold. Ferris now has been doing PD at home for 18 months.

In PD, the patient is hooked up to a cycler every night — yes, seven nights a week — and fluids are used to absorb and drain toxins from the body via a catheter that is implanted in the peritoneal cavity. The patient carries fluid all day in that cavity, then repeats the draining process nightly.

Ferris has struggled to gain weight, which has complicated her situation. She needs to get to 10 kilograms before a transplant can take place.

But now it seems that she is making progress in that area.

Lindsey recently posted this on Facebook:

“We just got back from B.C. Children’s Hospital from one of our biggest trips ever and it was the first time I didn’t have (husband) Pat with me the whole time and first solo trip back with a 2 year old that doesn’t nap!

“She let them do all the things and the only tears we saw were with labs. She had the patience of a saint and literally seemed to be handling things better than I was. Hours of different consultations, 2 sets of labs, a bunch of X-rays, a dentist appointment and a hearing test!

“The initial screening for kidney transplant has officially begun!

“Little miss remains on the lowest side for weight and height that they will transplant, and growth has slowed again considerably. Praying for more growth!

“As for the donor part of things, we have been given the go-ahead to have any interested donors contact the St. Paul’s living donor program at 604-806-9027, citing Ferris as the intended donor.

“Her blood type is ‘B’ but they encourage all interested donors to contact St. Paul’s directly. They then mail out a package.

“Ferris’s side of the process is completely separate from the donor side and the donor side is 100 per cent up to the donor. We have been told the donor process can take just as long as the transplant workup for Ferris, so starting the search now is recommended.

“I am sharing this publicly because I want to get the word out. She deserves to live a healthy life and we are sooo ready to move on to the next phase. Social media has proven to be successful and altruistic donors is totally a thing! So let’s do it!! Let’s find Ferris a kidney!!”

Understand that you don’t have to be a match in order to help Ferris get a kidney. If you aren’t a match, the Living Donor Paired Exchange program will be used to match you with another donor/recipient pair in a similar situation.

The age and size of a donor isn’t a big deal, either. What is important is the health of the donor and his/her kidneys.

There is more information available right here at Providence Health Care’s website.

If you are interested in more contact 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

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.