Stephen Gillis: ‘The kidney is working perfectly’ . . . Teigen, live donor, ‘doing very well’

If you are a regular here, you know that we have been following Stephen Gillis, a Vancouver minor hockey coach, for the past few weeks.

He went through his final hemo-dialysis treatment on Monday and underwent a kidney transplant on Tuesday at Vancouver General Hospital, his good friend Michael Teigen giving up one of his kidneys.

Gillis updated us with a Wednesday evening post on Facebook:

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Stephen Gillis: “Michael and I see each other for the first time post-transplant.” (Photo: Stephen Gillis/Facebook)

“The transplant was beyond successful. The kidney is working perfectly. For my first steps with three kidneys I went to see my hero, Michael, and thank him. He is doing very well and will hopefully go home in the next day or so.

“I will be monitored till the weekend in hospital then home for more recovery. Had an ultrasound (Wednesday) afternoon where I saw the kidney inside me. The human body and what we can do with it is absolutely amazing.

“I can’t believe this all happened and I am beyond grateful to Michael, Dr. Dave the surgeon and his staff, VGH transplant floor nursing staff, VGH Nephrology team, and all of you for your endless support.

“Thankful that my love Dany has never left my side through all of this, and my best friend since we were kids, Keith, made it all the way from Cape Breton to be here for me. Thankful that Michael’s beautiful partner Denise and their best friend (who filled out the donor application), Diana, could be here to support him and be by his side. I feel we are all so lucky. Thank you!”

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Stephen Gillis: “I see my new kidney, from Michael, for the first time during an ultrasound. It is working perfectly!” (Photo: Stephen Gillis/Facebook)

Yes, Gillis now has three kidneys in his body. As he added to his post in response to a query: “They leave the failed ones dormant and just add the new one. It lives in my left pelvis.”

In a response to that, another transplant recipient wrote: “You have three kidneys for now but after transplant your native kidneys shrink and shrivel up. You can’t even see mine on ultrasound anymore!”

My wife, Dorothy, was born with one kidney, although we didn’t find that out until 1981. When that discovery was made, we also learned that her one kidney was malformed and was losing efficiency. When she had her transplant on Sept. 23, 2019, the deformed kidney was left in place, on the left side of her torso, with the new one going in on the right side.

Gillis’s new kidney, which used to belong to Teigen, also went in on the right side.

A plea from the wife of a friend who needs a kidney . . . Are you able to help? The info you need is right here

Vic Morin is a regular at our Kamloops Kidney Support Group meetings and has become a good friend. He was with us on Sept. 11, just last week, when he informed us that he was soon to begin peritoneal dialysis. With that in mind, he was to have had a catheter surgically implanted into his peritoneal cavity on Sept. 25.

But, when you have kidney disease, things are out of your control and can change in a hurry. On Thursday night, his wife, Colleen Bruce, made an emotional plea on Facebook:

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 — It’s been close to 8 months since I first posted our story in search of a living kidney donor for my husband, Vic.

At the time of the posting, Vic’s kidney function (GFR) was holding at 19, but over the next few months it began to drop quickly. On Wednesday, he had his regular monthly lab work and he now is at 6. Today (Thursday) was a very emotional day as we got a call from the Kamloops Kidney Clinic advising that Vic was in kidney failure and needs to start emergency hemo dialysis tomorrow (Friday).

He was scheduled for surgery next week to place a catheter into his peritoneal cavity (lower abdomen) so he could start peritoneal dialysis within a month after the healing was complete; unfortunately, his kidneys can’t wait that long and now he will have a central line inserted into his neck so he can start on the hemo-dialysis tomorrow.

I know dialysis will help but it is only a temporary solution like a Band-Aid is to a wound; what Vic desperately needs is another kidney. I have seen the immense drop in his energy level over the past few months. His zest for life is slowly disappearing as he knows he is slowly getting sicker and sicker.

As I am typing this tonight, I have tears running down my face as it breaks my heart because I know I can’t give him the one thing that will make him better — a new kidney.

I’m once again reaching out to anyone and everyone that I can in search of a living kidney for my beautiful husband.

When we were down at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver at the end of April to the meet the kidney transplant team, we were reminded by one of the doctors that kidney donors live a long and healthy life with just one kidney. They are thoroughly screened before the transplant and they will only proceed if the donor is healthy and if there are no risks to him/her.

Once they have donated their kidney, they are continually being monitored over the years and if any other unrelated health ailments arise such as, say, cancer or heart disease, it will be diagnosed earlier than the average person because they are being medically checked regularly and may have a stronger chance of overcoming the disease as it was caught early.

I’m hoping and praying that someone out there can give my husband the beautiful lifesaving gift of a kidney so he can have a long and healthy life. My original posting is shown below and it has all the information if someone choses to come forward and start the process of kidney donation. Thank you each and everyone for taking the time to read this UPDATE and once again, please “Share” our story so we have a strong chance of finding a living kidney donor.

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January 24, 2019

Dear Family and Friends:

This is a difficult post for me to write, but I truly need your help. My husband’s kidney is failing and he is in desperate need of a kidney donor.

My wonderful husband Vic was diagnosed with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) more than five years ago and he has been monitored by doctors and nurses at the Kamloops Kidney Clinic, who have been extremely supportive over the years.

His kidney function, however, has been declining and he now is facing the reality of kidney failure. I have seen changes in him — tiredness, lack of interest in activities we both used to enjoy, and depression.

While dialysis is one option that can help short-term, it is not a cure. The average time on dialysis is five years, before total kidney failure. Our best option for him to have a long and healthy life is a live kidney transplant.

Vic completed his testing and is a good candidate. I completed all the testing to see if I was a good candidate for becoming a kidney donor, but unfortunately a call on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 from St. Paul’s Hospital informed me I am unable to become a kidney donor because of my own health issues. It was a very emotional phone call. I now had to tell my beautiful husband I could not be his saviour. We both hoped I could be a donor for him, but that is not the case.

Now, I am desperately reaching out to as many friends and family online as I can in search of that kidney, which he needs so badly. We are hoping and praying someone will come forward and consider becoming Vic’s kidney donor. The more who come forward for testing, the better his chances for a match will be.

Doctors indicate that kidney donors live a normal and healthy long life with just one kidney. Donors are carefully medically screened to make sure it is safe for them to donate. The transplant team makes the donor’s health and well-being a priority before and after donation. We understand donors don’t have to be a relative or be an exact blood match in order to donate. We understand this is an extremely personal decision and there is a lot to think about.

If you would like more information or to explore kidney donation further, feel free to contact the donor nurse coordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital by calling 604-806-9027 (1-877-922-9822) or by emailing donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca.

Vic’s legal name is Louis Victor Morin. If you call and they ask who the recipient will be, give them that name. Please know your inquiry, as well as the process for determining your eligibility as a donor, would all be kept confidential. St. Paul’s runs a very professional donor program and we will never be told if anyone has expressed interest in donating a kidney (unless you tell us of course).

Donors may change their mind at any time, even on the day of the transplant.

Thank you for letting me share Vic’s medical situation with you.