Eight days after being the donor and recipient of a kidney transplant at Vancouver General Hospital, Michael Teigen and Stephen Gillis appeared on CTV Morning Live on Wednesday.
Gillis, the recipient, and Teigen both are doing well and are walking billboards for the entire process.
The conversation — and this is really good stuff — is right here.
The Children’s Organ Transplant Society issued this release on Tuesday:
“We have been receiving a lovely number of messages asking about how to be tested as a living kidney donor for Zach Tremblay. Thank you to our community for spreading the word! However, as a charity we cannot provide confidential medical information about Zach’s history or present condition, as well as any other transplant children. Please know that we would love to direct you to the right place, but cannot answer questions about Zach’s personal health. If you would like to apply for living donation, please contact St. Paul’s Living Donor Program.”
So here’s the deal . . .
You don’t have to be a match to Zach if you are interested in helping him. If you aren’t a match, you are able to help him through the Living Donor Program. If you were deemed to be an eligible donor via that program, you would donate a kidney to someone else, quite likely a stranger, but on the condition that Zach got a kidney.
That is exactly how my wife, Dorothy, received a kidney more than six years ago. Her best friend donated a kidney through the Living Donor Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. That kidney went to a stranger, while Dorothy received a kidney from another stranger.
So remember . . . you don’t have to be a match in order to help Zach, a 16-year-old from Robson, B.C., who has been in Vancouver since early January. He has transitioned from peritoneal dialysis to hemp-dialysis, but won’t be going home until there is room for him in the dialysis unit at the hospital in Trail.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
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
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.
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 a 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: