Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,
On Valentine’s Day in 2011, Paul and I were featured in the National Post newspaper about our love story. The article began, “Who knew when Paul and I met at a cottage closing party on Sept. 30, 1967 we’d be celebrating our 42nd anniversary …a month after our transplant surgeries?”
In early January, 2010 Paul’s kidneys failed as a result of polycystic kidney disease. Since it can be inherited, direct family members were not suitable donors. I volunteered. During the following 11 months Paul underwent dialysis three times a week, five hours each session. Meanwhile, we were each put through a series of tests for compatibility. To our surprise, results indicated my kidneys were an excellent match. On November 25th that year, one of my kidneys was transplanted into Paul—and began working immediately. We thought we were home-free for at least the next 20 years!
Unfortunately, two years ago, our transplanted kidney’s function was compromised by a rare effect of a virus. Since then the outstanding medical staff at the Toronto General Hospital (TGH) has worked diligently to slow down the kidney’s deterioration.
Contrary to wide-spread belief, there is no living kidney donor list in North America.
In Ontario, only when someone goes on dialysis is he or she automatically added to the bottom of a list of recipients who typically have to wait 7–10 years for a kidney from a donor who has died. Up until now, every person whose kidneys fail must find his or her own living kidney donor. Can you imagine being in such a predicament?
I am appealing to you to help us find an extraordinary individual who would be willing to donate a kidney to Paul.
I have never been comfortable asking anyone for anything; however, the time is approaching when my husband may have to go back on dialysis. This would mean being confined three times weekly to a hospital room, attached to a dialysis machine, and restricted to an unhealthy diet. Paul is known throughout the legal and business communities for his professional work and mentorship. For decades, he has volunteered as a leader in community service organizations domestically and internationally. Paul prays to be able to continue his work, and to enjoy the freedom to come and go, our four children, their spouses, grandchildren, relatives, friends and colleagues.
Recently, a successful media appeal for donors was made on behalf of Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk who needed a liver transplant. Five hundred people came forward. My hope is for a similar response of living kidney donors, not only to benefit Paul, but also other kidney patients in need of a transplant. It’s time to create a living kidney donor registry! Please help. Spread the word: forward this appeal to your network of family, friends, colleagues, associations and organizations.
Outcomes for living kidney donors are excellent. Long term studies show that they continue to live normal lives after donation. Our bodies are able to adjust and function quite well with one kidney – I can attest to that. Living donor evaluation includes many tests to help determine that this is the right decision for the donor from a physical, practical and emotional point of view. All donors are seen by a health care team different from that of the recipient to ensure their needs are specifically addressed. Only those who have passed this rigorous evaluation process are accepted as donors. The well-being of the potential donor is never compromised for the sake of the recipient. To learn more about organ transplants and the TGH team, visit www.uhn.ca/MOT.
Furthermore, TGH Living Donor Kidney Transplant Assessment Coordinator Julie Cissell or I can provide email attachments which include donor manual, consent and health history forms. Potential donors can contact Julie by phone (416-340-4577) or email (Julie.Cissell@uhn.ca). Mention my name or Paul’s. Julie will answer any questions about living donor criteria and testing process.
I am also prepared to share my personal donor experience with any person, group or organization. Just contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your help, which is very much appreciated!