Can you tell us what led to you needing a transplant?
"I was born with a congenital disorder complicated with a single malformed kidney. At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and had to go on dialysis. Four years later, I received my first kidney transplant, which lasted for almost 16 years. In 2015, I was back on dialysis. After two years of being on home hemodialysis, I received my second transplant."
Can you tell us about both times when you received news there was a kidney match for you?
"My first transplant happened 20 years ago. I still remember the day I got the call from my doctor. It was a Wednesday and I went home after dialysis as usual. I was taking a nap when he called me. He said, "We've got a kidney for you." And I was like, "a kidney for me?" I couldn't believe it at first. I was really excited but also very nervous at the same time. My mom was nervous too, and she even forgot to change from her slippers to shoes when we left the house. We arrived at Children's Hospital in the evening and the operation took place at night. I stayed in the ICU for the first 24 hours after transplant. Then, I was transferred to the general ward and everything went well.
In 2017, I got called in for my second transplant three times. The first two times didn't work out. So, when I got called in for the third time, I wasn't sure whether or not it would occur. I was still excited and really grateful though. When I was waiting in the transplant ward at VGH, I thought of my donor and donor family. (It's very hard to put my feelings into words.) So, I asked my pastor to pray for them with me. After waiting for 15 hours, I was finally sent down to the operating room to have the surgery. Although I was very sick after the operation due to some complications, I started to feel better when the kidney woke up."
How has your quality of life been since receiving the transplant?
"My quality of life has been great after my two transplants. I have more time and energy to do the things I enjoy such as hiking and traveling. I got my driver's license, started volunteering with BC Transplant and the Chinese Renal Association, and got a dog and a cat. I was also able to continue my education and became a renal dialysis technician. Moreover, I used to be very shy, but I eventually got out of my shell after my first transplant. I am truly thankful to my two donors and their families. I will never forget their kindness."
Have you been in touch with your donor family?
"I wrote to my first donor family three times. I didn't hear back from them. I can understand though, as it can be very difficult to write to recipients."
What would you like to say to the medical teams that are so vital to the success of transplant in our province and in your own circumstance?
"I would like to thank the healthcare teams from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much for saving my life, as well as other patients' lives! You guys are awesome!"
Having seen the miracle of transplant so closely, how important is organ donation and discussing one's decisions to donate to family and friends?
"Organ donation is extremely important because transplants would not happen without it. It's also very important to discuss the decision with family and friends. If the family members already know the decision, they are more likely to agree to donate their loved one's organs. Furthermore, by registering to become an organ donor and talking about the decision, one may inspire others to become donors."
What's your perspective on the milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant in BC?
"It's wonderful and very encouraging to see a continuous increase in the number of transplants and the changes in organ transplantation over the years. I believe that there will be more transplant miracles and breakthroughs in organ transplantation in the future."