A Kamloops toddler remains in need of a life-changing kidney — having been on the verge of receiving a transplant twice in the last week.
Three-year-old Ferris Backmeyer has been at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver since Dec. 29 after her parents received a 1 a.m. phone call that a kidney had been lined up.
Within hours, Ferris and her mom and dad were en route to the hospital, with the transplant scheduled for early the next morning. But by 11:30 p.m., the surgeon and a renal team delivered bad news — the donor’s kidney wouldn’t be suitable due to a last minute issue.
Ferris’ mother, Lindsey Backmeyer, described the news as an “epic disappointment.”
She felt excited that her daughter may receive a new kidney and a new life, buying her more than a decade of not having to endure nightly dialysis at home to treat kidney failure, which has been the case for two-and-a-half years.
To find out more about being a donor, contact the living donor program at St.Paul’s Hospital in
Vancouver by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 604-806-9027 or 1-877-955-1755
“The high to the low was something I’ve never felt before in my life. It hurt — it hurt a lot,” Backmeyer said.
This week, another donor came to light and Ferris was second in line to receive that kidney, but the organ ended up going to an adult whose odds of finding a match were 1:7,000.
With two opportunities in a week, she remains hopeful a kidney will soon come through.
“Two in one week is crazy,” she said, noting her daughter has been on the donor list since August.
Unfortunately, neither of Ferris’ parents were suitable matches and, while other volunteers have come forward, none have checked off all the requirements.
“It’s not even coming down to a match. You have to be incredibly healthy before they would consider taking one of your kidneys,” Backmeyer said.
Ferris has Mainzer-Saldino syndrome — a rare disorder involving kidney failure, vision loss and misshapen bones, which she was diagnosed with just days following her birth.
The December notice brought her back to BC Children’s early, as doctors had to repair a leak in her abdomen, which has caused fluid build up from her peritoneal dialysis treatment.
In the interim, Ferris will need to switch to hemodialysis — the more traditional dialysis method in which the blood is cleaned through a machine, whereas peritoneal dialysis involves injecting a fluid that cleans it through the abdomen.
As a result of this latest hospital visit, the entire Backmeyer family — Ferris, mom Lindsey, dad Pat and siblings Tavia, 9, and Ksenia, 7 — is once again living in the Lower Mainland for an indefinite stint.
It’s a precarious time for the family as both parents are out of work for the first time.
Pat is a second-year nursing student at Thompson Rivers University, while Lindsey, a registered respiratory therapist at Royal Inland Hospital, is on employment insurance.
They have opted to home school their daughters while in Vancouver to keep the family together.
Tavia and Ksenia have struggled at times with separation anxiety.
“Ferris isn’t the only kid that needs me,” Backmeyer said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Backmeyers can’t stay at Ronald McDonald House, but have found other lodging in the Lower Mainland, which is expensive.
Ferris has been admitted to the BC Children’s Hospital seven times for various issues over the years, including to treat an abdominal infection last summer, and, Backmeyer said, “the fragility of her life is feeling very up front and centre” at the moment.
The COVID-19 pandemic also caused added stress for the Backmeyers — most notably the separation from family and friends on whom they have relied.
“Mostly, I think the isolation, we just realized how much we rely on people and having to isolate ourselves have been really challenging,” Backmeyer said.
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 email at email@example.com or by phone at 604-806-9027 or 1-877-955-1755.