The following letter is from long time RASC Vancouver member Barry Shanko to let you know about his current health challenges and how you can help. Barry has been a wonderfully generous volunteer for our activities. In particular, as our Speakers Chair for many years, Barry ensured an interesting series of talks at our public lectures. Barry needs a new kidney, and we hope you will consider being tested to be a living donor.
Dear Fellow Members of the Vancouver Centre:
In reaching out to you I have to say this is the hardest letter I’ve ever had to write. My kidneys have failed and I undergo dialysis three times a week. This is a temporary fix; the best long term solution is a kidney transplant.
The waiting time for a deceased donor kidney is years and I have been advised to try and find someone who would be willing to donate one of their kidneys to me. I’m writing this letter with the hopes that you or someone you know will come forward to volunteer to be tested as a first step towards donation.
I understand this is a huge request, and I want you to be totally comfortable with your decision. No matter what you decide, I will respect it. If you are comfortable with saying yes, I hope you will consider stepping forward to be tested.
Life with dialysis is not easy. I need treatment three times a week, four hours per session. This is a great hit to my lifestyle, meaning that I have to plan my life around my appointments. It is almost as though I was attached to the machines via a leash. For example, on work days when I have dialysis, I leave for work at 7:30 am, but don’t get home until almost 10 in the evening. A new kidney would eliminate these restrictions and return me to a normal life.
This is also a hard thing for me personally. My mom died from kidney failure. She wasn’t able to have a transplant and eventually the dialysis stopped working. Her last few years were a constant cycle of dialysis and then rest until the next session. It wasn’t much of a life.
I’ve learned kidney donors are able to live normal and healthy lives with just a single kidney. Donors are carefully screened to make sure it is safe for them to give up a kidney. The testing is comprehensive and only if you pass the tests will you be asked to take the next step to donation. The transplant team makes the donor’s health and well-being a priority. Donors don’t have to be a relative, or even have the same blood type to volunteer. And should the worst happen and your single kidney fails, as a live donor, you would go straight to the top of the transplant list without having to wait in line.
I know I’ve given you a lot to think about. If you are interested in exploring the idea of a kidney donation and want more information, I’d urge you to start by checking out the BC Transplant website [www.transplant.bc.ca] or contact the VGH pre-transplant clinic at 604-875-5182 for more information. Just asking for information is not a commitment to going forward with it and you can stop at any point in the process. All of your contacts and information will be kept in the strictest confidence.
If you’d like, I’d be happy to talk with you confidentially about this and pass along more information.
Thank you for letting me share my information. If you know of someone you think would be interested in donating, feel free to pass this letter along to them. The wider the net, the better my chances.