What inspired you to get tested to see if you could become a living kidney donor?
"I have been a registered organ donor for as long as I can remember. Several factors came into play with my decision to apply to be a kidney donor. First is the fact that two of our grandchildren are type 1 diabetics and I know that kidney disease is a real danger in this condition. I pray that neither of the boys will need a kidney but if one of them does, I hope that someone will be willing to donate. Another influence came when Vince, a parent to a child I taught in Nanoose Bay made public, his need for a kidney. The final thing that pushed me towards donation was hearing the story of Val at a Christmas party in December of 2015 who donated anonymously, a few weeks earlier. Until then, I had never known that anonymous donation was a possibility."
What misconceptions do you believe people have in regard to organ donation?
"I think there is a lack of knowledge about anonymous donation. When someone learns that I am a kidney donor, the first question asked is usually "Who received it?". I then try to explain the Paired Exchange Program and the role that the anonymous donor can play. The second is the age factor - I was just over 70 when I had my surgery. As long as one is in good health (and numerous testing is complete), one can donate. Another misconception is how difficult it is for the donor. This may have been true years ago but it certainly is not true now. I was up walking the day after surgery, experienced virtually no pain and my scars are not visible - even if I could wear a bikini!"
What was the day like when you found out you were a match for someone?
"I was actually told twice. I am not sure why the first match did not proceed but I was happy that I would be able to help someone have a better life."
Are there any changes in your quality of life since the donation procedure?
"No changes - perhaps a little more awareness in the need to keep myself healthy but I have always made healthy nutrition and exercise part of my life. There was a short period of time where I was more tired than normal. However – I live just outside of 100 Mile House and evacuation for forest fires two weeks post-surgery was not recommended… but that is another story!"
What is the most rewarding part of being a living kidney donor?
"The most rewarding part of being a living kidney donor is knowing that I have probably made someone else's life better."
What is your perspective on BC's milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant?
"50 years - amazing! The first transplant was a year after I got married. I know that the techniques used now are much more advanced than they once were. Organ donation is NOT something to fear."