A fundraising effort for a Kamloops toddler in need of a kidney gets underway this weekend via social media.
Four-year-old Ferris Backmeyer has been waiting for the new organ almost all her life, having been diagnosed with Mainzer-Saldino syndrome — a rare disorder involving kidney failure — just days following her birth.
This weekend — April 23 to April 25 — organizers will hold a silent auction via Facebook to raise money for the family. The Backmeyer family silent auction will take place on Facebook from 8:30 p.m. on Friday, April 23, to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, and is open to the public.
“With COVID, right now we’re unable to do anything in person, so we figured this was probably our best bet to be able to raise some money for them while keeping it safe with COVID,” said co-organizer Kelsi Manson, noting she felt compelled to help out after learning of Ferris’ story.
“I’ve got four kids myself,” Manson said. “We’ve been very lucky. We have four healthy kids, so I just couldn’t even imagine being in that situation.”
More than 50 items and/or services have been donated for the auction, but donations are still being accepted.
All funds will be given to the family, with organizers noting their lodging costs when at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
Those costs have been a hindrance for the family, which has opted to keep parents Lindsey and Pat, Ferris and siblings Tavia, 9, and Ksenia together on trips for Ferris’ appointments and dialysis treatment. The older kids are homeschooled in the process.
Mom Lindsey Backmeyer told KTW all the support from the community is appreciated.
“I’m just super grateful,” Backmeyer said.
Dad Pat is in nursing school and the family hasn’t been able to access Ronald McDonald House in the past year due to pandemic-related restrictions.
Financial support helps ease the nearly $4,000 per month in rent the family has faced, having already had two extended stays away from home in the past year.
A new kidney would free Ferris from dialysis treatment and constant travels to BC Children’s Hospital. She has been close to receiving a kidney three times in the past three months. In March, she had a transplant, but complications following the surgery meant the kidney had to be removed. Two other potential donor kidneys lined up in December and January fell through at the last second.
The Backmeyer family is currently home in Kamloops, having spent most of 2021 to date in the Lower Mainland.
More trips are in their future, starting with one to meet with BC Children’s Hospital to discuss what went wrong with Ferris’ transplant.
“We just about lost her that night — scariest night of my life,” Backmeyer said of her youngest daughter.
During this latest stay, Ferris also needed a repair to her abdomen, a tear sustained during peritoneal dialysis treatment — a method that involves injecting a fluid that cleans the blood through the abdomen.
Such dialysis can be done in the comfort of home, but after fixing the abdominal tear, Ferris had to switch to hemodialysis, in which the blood is cleaned through a machine. That procedure, however, can only be done at BC Children’s Hospital and Lindsey is concerned if the abdominal issue continues, doctors may switch Ferris to hemodialysis indefinitely, requiring a more permanent relocation to Vancouver — something the family wants to avoid.
In the meantime, Lindsey said, the family is happy to be back in Kamloops surrounded by friends, family and well-wishers.
Anyone who wants to contribute to the silent auction can contact Manson by phone at 250-574-9505 or via email at email@example.com.
While the fundraising will help, the family continues to look for the ultimate donation of a living kidney donor.
Unfortunately, neither of Ferris’ parents are a match for their daughter and, while many people have offered, there is a rigorous screening process as one must be extremely healthy to donate a kidney.
To find out more about being a donor, and to learn whether you might be a match, contact the living donor program at St.Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver by by phone at 604-806-9027 or 1-877-955-1755 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.