In October 2016, our local office hosted a presentation from the Kidney Foundation as part of our annual Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign. Our guest speaker was the Executive Director of the Kidney Foundation Northern Alberta & the Territories Branch.
During the presentation, I learned a lot about kidney disease and the work the Kidney Foundation does in Canada for people suffering from kidney disease. While listening to the presentation, one of the slides immediately caught my attention stating- “Nearly 50% of Canadians don’t live past four years on dialysis, the most common treatment for kidney disease.” Hearing this was shocking to me because it means there are hundreds of people dying because they’re not getting the transplants they need. Fortunately, during this presentation, I also learned about organ donation, including living donation. I learned that just about anyone can be a living donor.
I approached the Kidney Foundation after the presentation and I was provided with contact information for Living Donor Services in my area. Within one week of seeing this presentation, I had begun the process of becoming a living donor. Since I did not personally know anyone in need of a kidney, I decided to donate anonymously (also known as an altruistic donation).
During the seven month evaluation process, I went through both medical and psychological testing to ensure I was a suitable candidate. The process is meant to ensure the safety and health of the donor as well as the recipient. On May 19th, 2016, I got a call from the living transplant coordinator informing me they found a new home for my kidney.
On June 1st, I donated my left kidney to a stranger. I was out of the hospital in three days and back to work in six weeks.
People have asked me why I chose to donate in this way. The answer is I wanted to make a significant impact on a personal level. I wanted to inspire other people to donate. I truly believe that inspiration is contagious.
Two months after my donation, I received a letter in the mail from Donor Services; in the envelope was a card from my recipient. Hearing from my recipient that I not only helped to heal them physically, I also helped them spiritually was amazing. Inside the card the recipient wrote, “In a world that seems increasingly turbulent, your rare and altruistic action has grounded firmly in our hearts the idea that humanity is, at its core good.”
I have never doubted that what I did was the right thing to do but reading those words confirmed that I made a difference.
I am incredibly grateful for the support and encouragement I received from all the people involved. My family, friends, colleagues, medical personal, The Kidney Foundation, and Living Donor Services were my cheerleaders and helped make changing a life possible.