My name is Kate, and I received a pre-emptive living kidney transplant in 2017.
I was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease in January 2011—just shy of my 26th birthday. As typical with kidney disease, it went undiagnosed for almost two years. The only symptom I had were severe headaches, so it wasn’t until I had flu like symptoms and troubles with my vision that I went to the hospital.
By then, my kidney function had dropped to 13 (normal kidney function for a women my age should be around 120). Fortunately thanks to some blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes, I was able to improve my function and live a pretty normal life for about five and a half years.
It was during this time that I reconnected with Brian.
Brian and I first met working at the PNE in 2007, and as fate would have it, ran into each other again in 2013 at Rocky Point Park in Port Moody. Long story short, we started dating shortly after and haven’t been apart since! In September 2016, we got married right across from the park where the twist of fate occurred.
After we got married, Brian and I started talking about having a family. The first step was changing the medication that had been keeping my kidney disease in control so that it would be safe for a baby. Unfortunately, this didn’t go well and my kidney function started to decline once again. At the beginning of 2017, realizing that we wouldn’t be able to have children unless I got a new kidney, I started the work up for a pre-emptive living donor transplant.
Since I’d already talked about transplant with my family almost seven years ago when I was first diagnosed with kidney disease, I wasn’t shy about sharing my story on social media and letting people know I was looking for a living donor. I was fortunate that a number of friends and family were willing to get tested to see if they were a match for a living donor kidney transplant. Brian offered to get tested right away, saying: “She’s my wife. If I can help her get healthy so we can live our life the way we want and start a family, it’ll be worth it.”
Waiting to find out if anyone was going to be a match was the hardest part. Being able to receive a living kidney donor transplant before having to go on dialysis meant I’d likely have greater long-term health benefits—if I could find a match in time. But my kidney function was declining and doctors told me that if we didn’t find a match soon, I’d need to be scheduled to have a dialysis port.
Luckily, Brian moved through the process much quicker than usual and in June 2017, the day before my doctor wanted to schedule my port surgery, we found out he was a strong match. The transplant was scheduled for September 6.
By the time our surgery date came around, my kidney function was down to 11. Surgery and recovery went well. Other than some initial discomfort, Brian is now back to his normal, healthy self and his remaining kidney is working really well. As for me, I’ve had to adjust to all of my new anti-rejection drugs, but so far the side effects have been pretty minimal. "BK" (Brian's Kidney) is working really well, my function is up in the mid-70s. I feel so lucky that the man I married was not only a perfect match for life, but for a kidney as well.
Since the surgery, we’ve also welcomed our first fur baby—an Australian Labradoodle named Mosby—and are looking forward to getting back into hiking, snowshoeing, biking and starting a family in the coming few years. I’m also looking forward to continue volunteering with BC Transplant and Kidney Foundation to promote organ donation and the Can- Solve CKD research initiative. I’m also hoping to participate in the Canadian Transplant Games this summer in Vancouver.