Saving Lives Through Organ Donation

In 2016, the membership passed a resolution calling on UBCM to work with the Kidney Foundation to encourage local governments to promote organ donation in their communities. There are currently 640 British Columbians waiting for a transplant. Only 22% of British Columbians have registered their wishes for organ donation. Registration is simple and may be completed online in 2 minutes.

There are two ways you can register your wishes for organ donation:

  1. Register via the BC Transplant registration portal.
  2. Consider being a living kidney donor. Contact BC Transplant for more information.

Mission CAO Shares His Story 

Ron Poole, then Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Terrace, remembers the day in 2003 that his Mayor and Council opened the first dialysis unit in northwest BC. At the time only 6 patients were using it, but the goal was that as the need increased, it would benefit all those who would require it.  Little did he realize that 13 years later one of those patients would be his very own daughter.

In October 2015, Ron’s daughter Ashley had scheduled a doctor’s appointment because she had been feeling tired and winded. Within hours, Ashley was sent directly to the ER after her GP discovered she had extremely high blood pressure.

Later that same day, Ron and his wife Karen started to receive texts from their daughter updating them on her situation. “It was all a bit surreal,“ says Ron. “One moment life was going smoothly and then in a split second things turned upside down.

“For me, everything was happening so fast. I was just going through the motions,” recalls Ashley. “I did not know what to think when the doctors came and told me that my kidneys were failing.  I was then transferred to the Prince George Hospital to be closely monitored by the renal unit team.”

For the next month Ashley remained in hospital care.  It was on November 6th, her 27th birthday, that Ashley received the news that she had “IgA nephropathy”.  She was in end stage kidney failure.

With this news, Ron and Karen started the process with the transplant clinic at Vancouver General Hospital to see if either could donate one of their kidneys to Ashley.  Over the next few months Ron and Karen underwent a very thorough series of tests.  Ultimately Karen was ruled out, and the transplant team still needed to address a few questions about Ron’s health.

“I just remember thinking that it’s down to me,” says Ron.  “If I am to be a match then I needed to get in shape and never was there a better motivator to do that than with my kid’s life was on the line.   Fortunately, I also had a lot of support, including my staff and Mayor and Council, to take the time to do what I needed to do.”

Finally, on June 3rd, Ron got the news he needed to hear from the transplant team: he was approved to be a living kidney donor for Ashley.  And on June 6th they were both scheduled for surgery at VGH. 

“Looking back I can honestly say that the surgery was the easy part of this whole process.   Within hours of the transplant surgery I got up and walked into Ashley’s room.  It was the most amazing feeling in the whole world to know that I was able to do this for my daughter.  To give her the gift of life -again.”   Ron was released from hospital the next day and Ashley five days later.

Life today for the Poole family is good.

Ashley stayed with her parents until early August and then returned to her home in Terrace.  She went back to work and has resumed her normal activities.

“Besides taking daily medications, I feel amazing,” says Ashley.

The family knew nothing about kidney disease and organ donation before all this happened. Today, they can’t do enough to promote it.

Ashley has become very involved in the Kidney Foundation’s Chapter in Terrace and raised $5,500 for the Kidney Walk, and Ron is a Living Donor mentor and a huge champion of the Kidney Foundation’s Saving Lives Through Organ Donation Campaign.

“I never knew how easy it was to literally give someone a second chance at life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

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More information on organ donation is available via the Kidney Foundation. If you are interested in working with the Kidney Foundation to promote organ donation in you community, you may contact either Pia Schindler, Executive Director, or Deborah Tucker, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications.  This week is also National Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness Week – for more information on the 2017 Campaign, including events and social media, please visit the campaign website.

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