Kidney Awareness Month: At 60, a new organ on its way
If you asked the average person, they'd say they are in favour of organ donation.
In fact, statistics show 85 per cent of British Columbians have said just that.
But, those same statistics show only 17 per cent of the province's population has registered as an organ donor.
It's a key issue for the Kidney Foundation of Canada because donor organs are the only thing that give people with kidney disease a chance at having a more normal life.
Dorothy Drinnan is one of those people.
The Kamloops woman was born with one kidney — and it was diseased.
However, she didn't discover this until she was 29 and her doctor, perplexed by ongoing infections, sent her to a specialist.
"But, this one lasted 57 years before I had to do dialysis," Drinnan said while taking part in an event at Sahali Mall recently as part of the designation of March as Kidney Awareness Month.
"Of course, it had to because I didn't have a backup."
Drinnan started peritoneal dialysis in 2009, a procedure she was able to do at home each night. It involves a fluid exchange through a catheter into her abdomen that feeds in a solution that pulls all the wastes out and then drains from the body.
In a few weeks, that nightly ritual should come to an end as Drinnan and her husband, Gregg, head to Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital, where she will receive a new kidney.
In an operating room near her in the same hospital, a lifelong friend will give up one of her healthy kidneys in a procedure Drinnan knows will involve at least those two recipients and two donors — and perhaps more.
"She has always had an on-death donor card," Drinnan said of her friend, "but, she decided she would do this now."
The friend's kidney is a match for another person with the disease and that person has a donor who is a match for Drinnan, she speculated — although there could be more people involved in the domino-like process.
The bottom line is some people will leave St. Paul's without a kidney and others will leave with a new, healthy organ.
Drinnan will have to stay in Vancouver for up to three months after the surgery for ongoing monitoring and checkups and she's been told she won't feel great for about a year.
She will need to take drugs for the rest of her life to fight off any rejection of the new organ — but, that's a minor inconvenience for someone who has lived her life with kidney disease.
At any given time, there are several hundred British Columbians waiting for a kidney transplant.
Those interested in registering to be a donor or wanting more information can do go online to kidney.ca or call 1-800-567-8112.