All about washing your hands, suppressed immune systems and a Kidney Gala . . .


Have you ever wondered what life is like for a transplant recipient — be it heart, lung or kidney — living with a suppressed immune system? . . . “For transplant patients,” writes Blair Crawford of the Ottawa Citizen, “the fear of infection is a daily fact of life. They all take drugs to suppress their immune system to reduce the risk their new organ will be rejected. (Tina) Proulx’s life depends on the Purell hand sanitizer and Lysol and Clorox wipes that are now being swept off store shelves and stockpiled by panicked shoppers.” . . . Proulx has a double lung transplant in December 2015. . . . Crawford has written a terrific piece that explains it all, and it is right here.


The eighth annual Kidney Gala was held in Vancouver recently, and Fred Lee, who handles Fred Lee’s Social Network for the Vancouver Province, was one of the co-hosts.

Stephen Gillis, who 17 days earlier had undergone a kidney transplant, and Michael Teigen, who was Gillis’s donor, were on hand and received a stirring standing ovation.

For more on the Kidney Gala, including photos, click right here.

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BTW, congrats to Stephen Gillis and his Vancouver Minor Atom A1 hockey team for their championship. They won the PCAHA Presidents Series title earlier in the week.

If you have been following Gillis’s story over the past year you know just how much this hockey team means to him.

Here’s a bit of what Gillis posted on Facebook:

“Thank you to our friends at Burnaby Winter Club for a spirited series. You’re a team of class and sportsmanship and it has been great to play you all year. Thank you for your team’s kindness and support during my health journey.

“So proud of our squad. On and off the ice they gave 110% and would never quit. This was a special team. Excited to see the great things these kids achieve. Stay relentless.

“Thank you to my amazing parent group for an outstanding season. It was a privilege to coach this team and you all jumped on board with my plan. I am so grateful for your support of the team, our culture and mission, and the constant support, kindness, and generosity you have shown me throughout my health issues. Truly, thank you.

“We dedicated tonight’s victory to young Zachary Tremblay and his mother Jana. Zach has become a hero to our team. At 16, he is currently on dialysis and is in need of a kidney donor (O negative or positive blood). We want to help Zach’s message and find him a heroic donor. Please spread the word and let’s find Zach a donor.”

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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


Harry Bryant, a grandfather who lives in Vernon, B.C., has turned to Facebook in an attempt to find a living kidney donor. If you’re on Facebook, you are able to check out his page — Grandpa Needs a Kidney. . . . Caitlin Clow of the Vernon Morning Star recently did a story on Bryant, and it’s all right here.





The kidney experience, according to Coyle . . . Zach makes more friends during Vancouver stay . . . Michael Teigen: Actor, comedian and kidney donor

Michael Coyle, a volunteer with Coquitlam Search and Rescue, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and later went public with his need to find a kidney donor.

So . . . what’s it like to find out that you have kidney disease? What goes through your mind when the medical staff suggests that you turn to the public in an attempt to find a donor? And what happens when you get THE call, informing you that a donor has been found?

Coyle took to Facebook to explain all of this to his friends, and you are able to read it all right here.

If you are being impacted by kidney disease, I cannot recommend this enough.


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Travis Green, the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, took some time to visit with Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, on Friday. The Canucks entertained the Colorado Avalanche that evening. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

Zach Tremblay and his mother, Jana, remain in Vancouver where they are staying at Ronald McDonald House. From Robson, B.C., they have been in the city since the first week of January and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to their stay.

Zach, 16, began his stay at B.C. Children’s Hospital, where he was transitioned from peritoneal dialysis to hemodialysis. The closest hospital to Robson that is equipped to do hemp is in Trail, and there isn’t a dialysis chair open at this point in time.

Boeser
Zach Tremblay is all smiles after Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks presented him with an autographed sweater on Friday. Below, the Tremblays spent some time in front of the CTV cameras earlier Thursday. Watch for them on TV on World Kidney Day, March 16.  (Photos: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

In the meantime, Zach and his mother are making the best of their time in Vancouver.

On Friday, Jana posted on Facebook about their latest adventure:

“So a week or so ago, a former Castlegarite, Anita, messaged me and asked if Zach and I would like a tour of CTV, and to watch her husband Jason, who is one of the hosts of CTV Morning Live, tape the show and have a tour after. We were thrilled to go watch. Jason then offered to interview Zach and I and feature Zach’s story on World Kidney Day, March 16th!

“Jason also arranged for us to attend today’s Vancouver Canucks’ practice, which was so much more! We got to watch them practice, go down below into the change room . . . met Brock Boeser, who gifted Zach with an autographed jersey! We met Elias Pettersson and Zach got his jersey signed, and Zach MacEwen. Bo Horvat came over and said hello again and asked how Zach was doing. It was all very exciting!

 

“We also got to tour the retired jerseys and CTV 2player sticks area. We got to attend the press conference and watch (head coach) Travis Green address the media. Travis also came out and met with us — a thrill of a lifetime for us both!!

“Huge thanks to Anita, Jason and the Canucks organization for an amazing day filled with incredible memories.”

Green is from Castlegar, which is across the Columbia River from Robson. When he was a mere youngster, Jana actually babysat Green and his younger brother, David, on occasion.

After returning to Ronald McDonald House, Zach and Jana discovered they had won tickets to that evening’s game. So they were in the stands, no doubt cheering loudly, as the Canucks beat the Avalanche, 6-3.

Pettersson
Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks stops to chat with Zach Tremblay in the NHL’s team’s dressing room on Thursday afternoon. Zach is wearing a Pettersson replica sweater, which he got autographed. (Photo: Jana Tremblay/Facebook)

Zach16


It was Wednesday evening and I was watching the Vancouver Canucks playing against the visiting Arizona Coyotes.

The game went to a commercial break during the second period and one of the spots was for Pacific Blue Cross travel insurance. I’m not a great commercial watcher but, dang, that guy’s face looked familiar.

In fact, I was so sure that it was Michael Teigen that I sent an inquiring note to Stephen Gillis, who has had one of Michael’s kidney’s in the lower right quadrant of his torso for more than two weeks now.

Sure enough, my eyes hadn’t deceived me.

As Stephen responded: “He is an actor, improviser and comedian. Been in commercials and movies you probably saw but never knew.”

Well, I will be watching for him now.





After transplant, Gillis working to promote organ donation . . . Record year in Quebec

Gillis
After undergoing a kidney transplant, Stephen Gillis is back in his comfort zone as he coaches his minor hockey team in Vancouver. (Photo: Stephen Gillis/Facebook)

Stephen Gillis underwent a kidney transplant on Feb. 18 at Vancouver General Hospital. Since then, he has done a number of media appearances in Canada and the U.S. On Sunday, he spent some time on SportsTalk 1240, a New York City radio station.

Afterwards, Gillis posted on Facebook:

“Big thanks to my friend Gary Harding and his co-host Gil Martin for having me as their guest on SportsTalk1240 in New York City (Sunday) night to discuss my journey with kidney disease, the miracle of transplant, and the importance of organ donation.

“Take a listen and spread the word. In B.C., it is as simple as going to www.transplant.bc.ca and takes 30 seconds to become an organ donor. Your gift may lead to saving up to 8 lives.”

They also took time to preview Tuesday night’s matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders.

You are able to find it all right here.

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Gillis and his donor, Michael Teigen, also made an appearance on CTV Atlantic News, and you are able to watch that right here.

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On Saturday, Gillis was on Facebook explaining why he has been so active in the short period since his transplant:

“Eleven days post-kidney transplant and I ran practice on the ice with my blades on for the first time since surgery this morning. Some may say I am ‘overdoing it’; however my mentality is that of ‘overcoming it’.

“I choose to overcome my struggles. Four major surgeries later, I have developed a keen sense of what I need to do to recover and part of that is slowly, in baby steps, getting back to my regular life (within reason).

“For those worried, I hardly skated nor was physical, and I will be locked on the sofa resting the rest of the day. Honestly, other than the hospital or at the rink a couple of days I am on the sofa bingeing shows, resting, and eating good.

“I have welcomed ‘HERCULES’ (my new kidney) to my body and meditate daily on how every cell/organ/tissue needs to welcome him as well. He’s on our team now!

“That being said, mental health is an important part of recovery too. In small steps you need to do what you love. Hockey/coaching is one of, if not the, major passions in my life. Take that from me and my mental health declines that slow the healing process. So I am excited to be back with the team for an hour or two then back to resting and good food. This is a part of my recovery process.

“A privilege to be home on the ice today with Van Minor Atom A1, thanks to Michael (my donor/hero), and back near the greatest game in the world.”




Remember that you don’t have to be a match to specific recipient in order to be a kidney donor . . .


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.

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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


OrganDonation



Gillis rejoins team five days after kidney transplant . . . Coach works bench during playoff game

While Dave Ayres was becoming a Hockey Night in Canada legend on Saturday night, the WHL’s Everett Silvertips were introducing us to Marcus Pearson.

Marcus, 7, has kidney disease and has been on dialysis for six years. The Silvertips played host to Star Wars Night on Saturday night and Marcus took part in the ceremonial faceoff.

Take two minutes out of your day and watch the video that is embedded in the tweet below.

It’s awesome to see the Silvertips take Marcus out onto the ice during a practice and include him in a team photo. When asked to name his favourite team, I’ll let you guess just how he replied.

Ace photographer Chris Mast has photos of Marcus and more from Saturday’s game right here.


Stephen Gillis had a kidney transplant on Tuesday at Vancouver General Hospital, with good friend Michael Teigen the other half of the experience.

On Saturday, Gillis, who coaches a minor hockey team in Vancouver, was released from hospital.

On Sunday, Gillis was back with his team, joining his Atom A1 team at Britannia Community Centre.

Later, Gillis wrote on Facebook:

“Leadership is by example, and despite pain, I wanted to show them the importance of finding purpose in your struggle and that with a strong mind you can get through anything. Other people’s limits do not dictate your limits.”

Emad Agahi of CTV Vancouver was on hand for the occasion and his story is right here.

Gillis also wrote:

“Sign up today to become an organ donor and save up to 8 lives. It takes 30 seconds and will truly help people at a later date when you are no longer in need.”

Teigen was released from hospital earlier in the week and Gillis has said he is doing well.

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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


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:

Gillis
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!”

Gillis2
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.

Gillis, Teigen ready for Kidney Relocation Day

Stephen Gillis and Michael Teigen are scheduled for surgery at Vancouver General Hospital today (Tuesday). This will be the first surgical experience of Teigen’s life as he gives a kidney to Gillis.

The two men appeared on Global TV news on Sunday, and that piece is right here.

On Monday, CTV Vancouver was on hand as Gillis went through his final dialysis treatment before undergoing the transplant. That piece is right here.

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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