By Kerstein Mallon
The Haldimand Press
CALEDONIA—Life is short. This fact becomes a stark truth for most adults, particularly when presented with life-altering situations. For Elaine Payne Allen of Caledonia, life-altering situations hit young as she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 7 years old. It’s hitting ever closer now that she needs a new kidney.
As a child she says, “I didn’t understand the effects of my choices. The damage is not immediate.”
She was specifically diagnosed with brittle diabetes, a rare form of the disease that makes it particularly hard to manage. Throughout her childhood she always missed the beginning of the school year as she was frequently hospitalized and of course, Easter was bittersweet, literally, because her loving mother would offer her sugar-free chocolates.
“I don’t particularly care for the taste of chocolate,” Elaine joked.
Since her diagnosis, Elaine has spent most of her life managing the disease, adjusting her diet to keep the disease at bay. Now 62-years-old, her kidneys are operating at just 8% capacity. Over the years she has seen many changes in medicine and treatments, from the calcium build up in the glass needles she first began her insulin shots with, to the daunting modern day dialysis treatment she is now facing.
Elaine is grateful for each and every day, though she fears losing her limbs to the disease or having to go on dialysis.
“I still have my legs – I am scared to lose my legs, a lot of diabetics lose their legs,” she said, adding that dialysis may be necessary, but it still scares her.
A new kidney is the only way for Elaine to avoid beginning dialysis. In Ontario, there are over 1,600 people currently in need of a transplant, but only 35% have signed their donor card according to beadonor.ca. This means there are limited organs available for transplant from deceased donors.
Recently, Elaine’s doctor suggested she start looking for a living donor. As people are born with two kidneys and are able to live with a single kidney, living donors are an option. However, there is no one in her family that is a match, making dialysis that much more likely of an outcome. She has yet to give up hope of a new kidney however, with the possibility that a stranger might be a match.
Elaine has an O+ blood type and will need someone with the same blood type. If you are a match and interested in helping Elaine, contact St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton at 905-522-1155 ext. 32156 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on being a living donor in general, visit blood.ca/en/organs-tissues/living-donation.