Like most Canadians, kidney disease and organ failure weren’t things that kept me up all night. I wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone the symptoms of kidney failure or let alone explain what dialysis was.
This all changed on January 1, 2006 when I was taken to emergency after having felt progressively sicker over the past few weeks. At emergency a simple blood test confirmed something was wrong. And then the ER doctor spoke the words that changed my and my family’s life “your kidney’s have failed, we are going to prepare you for dialysis, and you will eventual require a transplant.”
In a matter of weeks, I went from being a 19-year-old navigating through my first year of university to requiring dialysis 3 times a week just so I could survive until I received a transplant. School and work were temporarily put on hold and I had to adjust to life on dialysis, new medicines, new diets, and the dreaded 1 litre per day fluid restriction. This was my life for nearly 2 years.
On September 4th, 2007, my mom, Maria, became my real-life superhero when she donated her kidney to me. From the beginning she had told me she would be “the one” and even though my siblings and dad also stepped up and got tested, she was right, she became “the one” to save my life.
This successful transplantation marked the 2000th kidney transplant in the Capital Health program, so we were interviewed by media. In the interviews my mom would always say “I was never scared…when they told me the kidney matched, I was so happy…I give my kidney to you with all my heart.”
I am forever grateful she did and because of this I use my experience to let people know the importance of transplantation, the need for all Canadians speak up and demand a better transplant system, and help others become their own advocates.