I recently had some bad news from good friends in Cochrane. Their son has been waiting for a kidney transplant for a number of years and, recently, his situation has worsened a lot, it seems. I quote from an email that his mother sent to us yesterday “He is now very disabled, eye sight extremely poor, balance and walking difficult, and even his once bright, positive attitude is slipping. He is frightened, feeling very vulnerable and dislikes being a burden to anyone.”
And then, just by chance I heard an inspiring story on CBC’s As It Happens some days ago about a hot dog vendor donating a kidney to a customer who was a casual acquaintance in the town of Abbotsford in the Lower Mainland in B.C. They became best friends during the screening process and, after the successful transplant operations, they started an appeal for potential donors for another Abbotsford community member who needs a kidney transplant. In response to their outreach, eight people have come forward already, and they were promised a lifetime supply of free weekly hot dogs if they qualify as donors.
All this took me back to my anonymous kidney donation nine years ago, and though I don’t usually talk about it, I feel this is a good time to let our Cochrane community know: 1) We have somebody in our midst who badly needs help, 2) some people in the community may be able to help, and 3) and it is not all that hard to donate a kidney. Any reasonably healthy adult can do it, and as part of the screening process you get the most thorough health checkup before you are allowed to donate. It turned out that age is no limit really— I was 68 at the time. Due to the arthroscopic surgery method used, there are two small 10 cent-size incisions only plus an 8 to 10 cm scar in the abdomen through which the kidney is removed. I was in the hospital for three days only, and back to normal within less than two weeks. And I can vouch that the missing kidney has not impacted my quality of life nor any of my usual activities, like mountain climbing and volunteering.
A live organ donation could be a rewarding project for a recently retired or part-time working person because a fair amount of time is needed for the health screening, plus about two weeks for surgery and recovery. What better gift to make to a fellow community member! At the very least, this call for consideration of a kidney donation should encourage folks to sign their donor forms if they haven’t done so already— There are people in our community in desperate need of our action.
Heinz K Unger