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44. #50YearsofTransplant: Rob Hammerschmidt

Since Rob received a kidney from his dad 10 years ago, he’s travelled to over 20 countries around the world and stepped foot on every continent. He lives life to the fullest every day as none of this would have been possible for him before transplant.
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Can you tell us what led to you needing a transplant?

"When I was born, I was diagnosed with Posterior Urethral Valves.  This is a pretty rare condition and when I was diagnosed, not a lot was known about the disease or what caused it.  I had multiple surgeries during the first year of my life and I was extremely lucky to be alive.  I grew up with only one functioning kidney, but I had a stable glomerular filtration rate (GFR).  When I turned 20, I was told by my nephrologist that my kidney was failing and that eventually, I would need a transplant if I was going to avoid dialysis.  Both of my parents were tested and luckily for me, my dad was a match.  Over the next few years as my kidney function decreased, I was extremely tired all of the time, I lost a lot of weight and I couldn't eat the foods that I used to enjoy.  When my function was at the point where my body was too sick, I had my transplant with the kidney that my dad donated to me."

What was the day like when you found out your dad was a match for you?

"When I first heard the word 'transplant', it was really scary.  There was a lot of unknown to what the word meant (both for me and for the quality of life for a donor).  I thought that I would be out searching for a match and didn't even know if I would ever find one.  When they told me that my dad was a match, this was a HUGE relief, for both me and my family.  It was a giant weight lifted off my shoulders and there was really a positive light at the end of the tunnel. My health care team had been proactive and made sure that I was ready for the day when a transplant was needed.  While I was being wheeled down to the operating room for my transplant, I remember being more worried about my dad, how he was doing and what he would feel like.  I know that this situation does not happen for everyone, so I consider myself to be lucky and I am forever grateful for the living donation my dad was able to give me."

How has your quality of life been since receiving the transplant?

"My quality of life changed immediately once I received my transplant.  I remember thinking during the days and weeks after my transplant "so this is what it's like to be normal?".  This was the first time that my GFR had been so high in my life. I had energy, I could go out for the day or go to work and not have to come home and sleep.  Since my transplant 10 years ago, I have travelled to over 20 countries around the world, and stepped foot on every continent. I have been able to do 10km runs, go skiing, hiking, kayaking, and most recently got married to my supportive wife in 2017. None of these would have been possible for me before my transplant. I continue to live life to the fullest today." 

How has your dad's quality of life been since donating?

"My dad's quality of life has not changed.  He has since retired and he and my mom continue to travel, kayak and hike.  He is the same dad that I had before and I know that he is so proud of the fact that I am able to do the things that I want to, with no restrictions because of my health."

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 will be forever thankful to everybody who played a part in making my transplant story a success.  My life has been changed for the better because of my transplant and I know that a lot of that is due to the hard work, planning and cooperation of so many people.  The doctors, nurses, pharmacists and social workers are just a few of the people that made my transplant and the transplants for others a success.  I know that there are many other individuals, who helped me and continue to help transplant patients across the province, that I will never get to meet.  I want to thank each and every person who is involved in transplant in BC for improving my life and the lives of other patients."

What's your perspective on the milestone of 50 years of donation and transplant in BC?

"50 Years is AMAZING!  To think about the countless lives that have been saved, all thanks to the advancement of surgeries, cross-matching, transplant medications and so on, is mind blowing!  5,000 British Columbians alive today is really a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many healthcare professionals and the dedication of so many people who build awareness around organ donation.  Of course it is also a celebration of all of the donors who selflessly made the decision to donate and change someone else's life."

50in50; BC Transplant
SOURCE: 44. #50YearsofTransplant: Rob Hammerschmidt ( )
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