Thinking about Ferris and Zach as clown cars pull up in front of hospitals . . .

While so many selfish folks chose to spend at least part of their Wednesday afternoon making fools of themselves in front of and around various hospitals, I couldn’t help but think of Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay and their families.

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Ferris Backmeyer and Zach Tremblay, new best friends waiting for kidney transplants. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

Ferris, 4, is from Kamloops; Zach, 18, is from Robson, B.C., which is across the Columbia River from Castlegar.

Both of these young people are awaiting kidney transplants. Each already has undergone one transplant, only to have it fail almost immediately.

Ferris has been on dialysis, either hemo or peritoneal, almost all of her young life; Zach does hemo-dialysis three times a week, but has to make the 65-kilometre round trip to Trail in order to get his treatment.

They both are at high risk of infection from any number of viruses, including COVID-19, as, of course, are thousands of others.

Of course, yesterday’s protesters lack the ability to see past the end of their noses, so they wouldn’t be aware of the number of immunocompromised people who live in their communities. If you want to protest about having your freedoms taken away, maybe you should speak with a few people who live with compromised immune systems and maybe learn what they have been going through while trying to stay alive during this pandemic.

(As an aside, you really have to wonder just how goofy some of these people can get. One week they are wanting to get horse medicine into their guts to help them fight this dastardly virus, and you shake your head and think that’s rock bottom. But then the clown cars show up in front of hospitals and it becomes obvious that, hey, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

But we digress . . .

Kidney disease and the wait for a transplant often means sessions in Vancouver with members of a medical team. Such was the case recently for Ferris and Zach.

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Zach Tremblay got to hang out with the Backmeyer sisters — Tavia (left), Ferris and Ksenia — during a recent trip to Vancouver. (Photo: Lindsey Backmeyer)

Zach was being transitioned from a team at B.C. Children’s Hospital to one at Vancouver General Hospital that works with adults who are awaiting transplants. At the same time, Ferris and her mother, Lindsey, were at BCCH.

Yes, Ferris and Zach finally met. In fact, Lindsey reported that Zach “is Ferris’s new bestie. He’s such and amazing kid and just connected with my girls instantly.”

When Lindsey writes about the medical issues being experienced by Ferris the pain oftentimes cuts the reader almost like a scalpel.

Earlier this year, Ferris underwent a kidney transplant in Vancouver, but the new kidney was removed almost immediately after being transplanted.

Since then, well, it really is a game of wait and see, except that it’s hardly a game.

This week, Lindsey offered an update via Facebook, as she is wont to do, and this one hurts. . .

“Well when it rains it always pours in our world. We got what feels like devastating news (Tuesday) morning from Ferris’s transplant nephrologist.

“Her Anti off testing was repeated and it’s shown that Ferris has become highly sensitive. Not sure at all when the 30% antibodies were drawn but she is now sitting at 99%. From my understanding they have a fancy calculation that looks at all the organs that were donated in the past 5 years across Canada and all age groups. What percentage would have been a match for Ferris . . . 1 friggin percent.

“It’s changed everything. They are going to increase immunosuppression to try and prevent them increasing to 100% because, as he reminded me, it can always be worse.

“This terrifies me in the season of a friggin pandemic against a respiratory virus that my child doesn’t have any protection against. In a climate where now not only one but both of her parents will be working in close contact with patients that are infected.

“Her future is so incredibly uncertain . . . more so than it already was??  How can that even be a thing.

“Their goal still is to get her transplanted but the odds are NOT in her favour. I have never felt more confident in our decisions to making memories our number one priority. Everything needs to shift and her quality of life will come above everything else.

“I feel shattered and it’s hard to breathe. It’s just been so incredibly overwhelming and the constant feelings of fight or flight are wearing me down.

“It’s so important for us to really embrace where we are at right now because the reality of our situation is that this is likely the ‘good’ and I hope to keep things this way for as long as it takes!”

I should mention that Lindsey is a registered respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital, while Pat is in nursing school at Thompson Rivers U.

That won’t mean anything to the protesters who got their 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon in front of and around RIH. But it should.

Ferrisposter

Zachposter2



If you are able to help, our friend Vic Morin of Kamloops is in need of a kidney transplant . . .

Vic1


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Mike




If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

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

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Want an easy win to feel great? Register to be an organ donor today. It will only #TakeTwoMinutes and you could save a life. Great deed and fuzzy feels without any hassle. #Register2Give taketwominutes.ca

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).