By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
SELKIRK—Selkirk resident Debbie Jamison needs some help. Specifically, she needs a living kidney donor.
“I was born with a kidney disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease (or PKD for short), which has progressively worsened over the years. I am now in my mid 40s and at the point where I need intervention as my kidneys do not work well enough to keep me alive,” explained Jamison. “It is hereditary, which is why it makes my journey a bit more difficult due to the fact my immediate family cannot help me as they carry the same genetic disorder.”
PKD is a genetic disorder that affects roughly 1 in 1,000 people worldwide. Patients develop clusters of cysts within their kidneys that cause them to become enlarged and lose functionality over time. It can lead to serious health complications, including high blood pressure and, in worst case scenarios, kidney failure. The average lifespan of a PKD patient can range from 53 to 70 years.
Prior to the pandemic Jamison and her husband had been living in Toronto, but they came to live at her husband’s family cottage in Selkirk, which they have owned for over 40 years, “to keep me safe and COVID-free as my immune system is down and I am high risk. My husband is close to retirement and we are looking to make this our permanent home very soon.”
Back in February, Jamison’s doctor delivered some difficult news: “My Nephrologist told me that I would be in renal failure and would need dialysis or a transplant within 12 to 18 months.”
She continued, “My ultimate goal is to skip dialysis altogether and find a living donor during this period of time I have been given. A transplant would offer me more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life.”
“Time is not on my side…. Unfortunately, getting on the diseased donor list is not possible until I have been on dialysis,” said Jamison, adding that even if she does get on the list, it can take between five to seven years to find a matching donor. “Dialysis consists of going to the hospital three to four times a week for four hours at a time, which will help my kidneys do their job and keep me alive until my match is found, hence why I am trying so desperately to find a living donor.”
Here are some basic facts about kidney donation, provided by Jamison:
- You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life.
- Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions.
- The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally 2 weeks with only 2 to 3 days in the hospital.
- The government subsidizes any costs the donor incurs (hotel stays, travel, etc.).
- Donors have a separate healthcare team to evaluate them as a donor, help them understand the risks and benefits, and look out for the donor’s best interests.
“At the very least, I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. I am hopeful my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list,” summed up Jamison.
Anyone interested in donating a kidney, or who might have a lead for Jamison and her family to follow, are encouraged to reach out to her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on being a donor in general, visit blood.ca.