A Salt Spring woman is reluctantly looking to fellow islanders for help restore health and possibly save her life through the gift of a kidney.
Brenda Bowes was diagnosed with progressive kidney disease in 2001 as a result of her annual check-up. Since then she’s been managing her condition as well as she can by means of diet, and she’s had some success at living a normal life. With her kidney function now down as low as 14 per cent, however, the only choice left is to go on dialysis or to find a donor who is willing help.
“I’ve managed pretty well until now, but it’s really at a stage where it’s in my face,” Bowes said. “I’ve had up and down times, but now it’s more down than up, absolutely.”
To the casual observer, it can be difficult to tell that anything is wrong with someone suffering from kidney disease. On the outside, Bowes looks healthy enough, but on the inside her system is unable to properly process toxins and waste. She feels nauseous 99 per cent of the time — a blow for someone who used to like to cook. She’s also too tired to do the exercise she has enjoyed her entire life.
A person can have a normal and healthy life as long as there’s one fully functioning kidney, but Bowes has found it difficult to turn to the community for help, even though she and her husband have owned their home here since 1988.
“It’s a really hard thing to ask. It’s not like asking for a cup of sugar for a pie. I really do know what a big ask it is,” Bowes said.
The Living Organ Donation Expense Reimbursement Program, administered by the Kidney Foundation of Canada, makes it easier for living donors to contribute by reimbursing some of the expenses associated with the gift.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the process can call the donor nurse coordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver at 604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822 or email email@example.com. The contact at Vancouver General Hospital is 604-875-5182/1-855-875-5182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also extensive information on the BC Transplant website, www.transplant.bc.ca.
For much more on this story, see the Nov. 29, 2017 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.