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Kidney Donation Made a Family Affair

John's entire family has been closely touched by organ donation with both his sons as kidney recipients while he and his wife are living kidney donors. Thirteen years later, they are all healthy and happy.
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(​John and Lisa)

Ken was admitted to the hospital and put on dialysis for roughly one year.  “I spent three winter months with him, giving him rides to and from dialysis, getting groceries, and doing other tasks for him,” John said.  During that time, John was in constant contact with the southern Alberta renal center, where the paired exchange was in trial mode. John underwent interviews and bloodwork and was given the thumbs up to donate his kidney in April of 2010. 
“Ken (photo on the left) was in Calgary, while I went to Ottawa for the surgery,” he explained. “I was eager to fulfill my promise.”

While that was happening, John and Lisa had their other two sons tested for kidney disease. Their middle son Colten was given the exact same diagnosis. To make matters even more complicated, John learned this news on the very same day that he was scheduled to fly to Ottawa and undergo the donation surgery for Ken.

“Now what?” John remembered thinking to himself. “Do I go ahead with the plan, or do I keep my kidney for Colten?” Ultimately, he chose to continue with the donation as planned. John explained that as soon as he met with the surgical team, all went smoothly. He went back home to Castlegar after a 10-day-stay in the hospital. He had delivered on his promise. “It took about two more weeks before I was able to return to my usual self,” he added. “I had no thoughts that my experience would hinder me or affect my health.”

Meanwhile, Colten (photo shared below), lost his kidney function a few years after the diagnosis and started dialysis, which he continued to do for about one year. He received his kidney from a deceased donor in 2018.
“The four of us are doing well,” John said, referring to both he, his wife, and his two sons. They have not noticed any difference in their energy levels, but John noted his sons are cautious with how they live their lives. 

Since recovering, John has retired from his work but gotten himself involved with BC Transplant as a volunteer to raise awareness. 

“With what we have learned combined with what others have learned, I thought that I may be able to do some good in my community,”  John said.

“I have had a table set up at farmers markets and fall fairs to make information available for the public.” Ultimately, John believes doing good has its rewards, but he tells his friends and all who will listen that donating a kidney is a life-changing moment. 

“Life changing because you've given somebody another chance to fulfill dreams, goals and have life experiences,” he said, urging all to sign up as organ donors. 

Written by: Ryan Uytdewilligen, BC Transplant Volunteer

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