Can you tell us what led to you needing a transplant?
"I was diagnosed with lupus nephritis at the age of 18 and my doctor gave me five years to live. I'm happy to say that I just turned 56 this year and my new kidney turned 11 years old!"
Tell us about the day you received news there was a kidney match for you. Can you touch on what those emotions were like?
"I was in complete shock when I received the call. I did not speak a word to my husband as we drove down to St. Paul's Hospital from the interior in BC. This is unusual for me because I'm always talking. When we arrived, we found out that the kidney would not work for me. I was in the middle of dialysis and my husband started to pack our things. However, I didn't have to finish my drain as the doctor just got off the phone and said there was another kidney for me. He told me to go for coffee and to come back in an hour. As soon as we got back, the doctor told me I won the lottery because it was a match! I was in disbelief the entire time until I was brought back into the room post-surgery. I had colour in my face and I felt like I was in someone else's body. I felt so good for the first time, in a very long time."
What is life like post-transplant?
"I live every day to the fullest and I try to spend more time on holidays and to treasure time with my mom as my dad passed away earlier in life. I love spending time with my husband and even dialysis never stopped me from continuing to go camping with him. I'm also very thankful to my donor and my donor family for making that brave decision."
What is your outlook now and how have you given back to the transplant community?
"I still live with a few lupus symptoms, but I can handle that. The doctors have always told me my positive attitude has gotten me this far. Spreading the word about organ donation is very important to me. When I'm able to, I love volunteering for the Kidney Foundation and telling people my story. I have been sharing my story with a lot of Facebook groups as I'm told that my story inspires people and gives them hope."
Anything else you'd like to share about your transplant journey?
"Yes! We have rescued 11 cats and still have six beautiful cats with us. We also just got a golden retriever puppy and it gives me purpose in life to get up each day. I'm no longer able to work as my immune system is quite compromised but I love animals. I was given a second chance in life so I believe all animals should as well."