National Kidney Month: A personal perspective on organ donation

My daughter was still in the womb when we learned she would only have a single kidney.

Suffice it to say, it was shocking news, but thanks to the nurses at BC Children’s Hospital, it didn’t result in a full-blown panic.

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We were told people with only one kidney could live long and healthy lives.

Some of them even go their whole lives never knowing there was anything different about them.

When my daughter was about a year old, we brought her back to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver to test her kidney function.

With just the one functioning kidney, it was important to know it was working well.

Thankfully, it was.

I can remember watching the screen that was monitoring the flow of urine in her system and how I could see the one good kidney was lit up with activity as the urine moved through it and on to the bladder.

The other kidney was just a shadow.

That girl is now seven years old and will turn eight in May.

To look at her, you’d have no idea there was a shrivelled and dead organ inside of her.

But there is.

It doesn’t really impact her in any way.

Granted, there are some things we need to watch out for as her parents.

Contact sports are probably not a great idea and urinary-tract infections need to be dealt with quickly.

After all, if anything were to happen to that one kidney, she doesn’t have a backup.

Then again, kids with asthma must watch out for certain activities, as do children with diabetes or certain allergies.

Heck, all I had as a kid was a pair of glasses and even I had to be careful (a kindergarten accident involving a parachute left me with a scar on my eyebrow that you can see to this day).

March is National Kidney Month and World Kidney Day is on Thursday, March 14.

It’s a good time to think about those people who need a kidney transplant to survive — something my daughter may face one day.

And it’s a good time to think about how being a live organ donor won’t impair your health.

All you have to do is look at my daughter and you’ll see just how much living you can accomplish with fewer organs than you’re supposed to have.

Todd Sullivan is a reporter with Kamloops This Week. He can be reached by email at

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