Welcome back to Life and Random Thinking.
I feel compelled to talk about my experiences with kidney failure and kidney disease to raise awareness as I celebrate my third anniversary of my kidney transplant on April 24, 2019.
One in 10 people in Canada has kidney disease – that’s FOUR MILLION people. The leading cause is diabetes.
That is someone on every block in Canada, that is someone who lives in the same floor as you in an apartment building.
What about the USA? How many at risk in the United States?
- More than 1 in 7, that is 15% of US adults or 37 million people, are estimated to have CKD.
- As many as 9 in 10 adults with CKD do not know they have CKD.
- About 2 in 5 adults with severe CKD do not know they have CKD
Today I will share my second kidney transplant experience. Here is recap of 1986 and my first transplant experience.
I have already shared my experience of dashed hope and a failed kidney transplant in April, 1986. My three hospital roommates, all kidney transplants, all died in the five months I was there in Vancouver General Hospital. I nearly died and am certain I was spared because of prayer.
In mid August, after months of treatments to try to save my transplant, I walked down the hallway one early morning to the nurses station and the nurse there, Grace, was crying. She was looking at my bloodwork results from the previous day – she assumed I had died also. (My roommate Brian, aged 34, had recently passed overnight and we were in shock still.)
What a hug I got, when she looked up, so kind!
Finally in September I went home and returned to thrice weekly five hour hemodialysis treatments and was able to get back on the transplant list again. I felt defeated and worn out, I weighed probably 40 pounds less than when I went in, the battle was over and I had lost. But I hoped to fight again.
I slowly regained strength and went back to work.
That was in September 1986 BUT July 1987 was going to bring a miracle and better days ahead. But I didn’t know it then.
We received the phone call at home in Richmond, BC. It’s the Heather Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital calling – “Can you come to the hospital right away – we have a kidney for you. The surgery will be after midnight.”
This time the atmosphere is different. Still excited, but it’s tempered because of the internal emotional scars from the previous year’s battle. My wife and I discuss my funeral preferences as she drives me to the hospital. But we hope.
The long spring and summer in these halls in 1986 seemed too fresh as I walked down the hallway again. The phonebooth where I used to make calls. The nurses station. My old room.
Last year I had energy but I dread a repeat of last year – I can recall the horse serum IV that vibrated my body so much that my bed moved across the room. The nurses pushed the heavy bed back against the wall and covered me with heated blankets – over and over again – for two weeks.
But this was 1987 so I prayed it would work and right away. I didn’t say it out loud but I couldn’t handle a long drawn out fight.
Around midnight they rolled me to surgery. It’s colder there and the operating table is less wide, my shoulders stick over the edges. This time I asked the surgeon to pray with me which he was happy to do. The anaesthesia began and my vision disappeared from the edges in and there are never dreams.
The next day I wake up and the nurses and doctors gather. The surgery went well, the kidney is a match and the transplant is working, … but not well.
I am on a drip for fluids to keep me hydrated and everyone is praying my urine output improves.
Four days later I have a biopsy. Things are moving quickly this time to figure out what’s wrong. That’s good because I am already weary of being here. Thankfully my family doesn’t give up hope, and keeps my spirits up.
Sunday arrives, it’s been another three days and no change. A group of doctors visit my bed and tell me if it doesn’t improve by tomorrow then they will schedule surgery to remove the transplant. Friends gathered to pray, and strangers even.
Sunday night, the floodgates open LOL. It’s a weird happiness when a nurse measures your urine output and has a big smile when she takes a big heavy bag. “Keep it up!” (thumbs up)
That’s it really, I improved and went home in four or five days.
That’s my post – In my second transplant experience the kidney gave us a scare and then began to work. It worked for a long time, 31 years!
AND 31 years is exceptional, I was very, very, very blessed and I am grateful.
But in September of 2018 the transplant had diminished in working to the point where I could no longer function, it had a long downward slide and I was forced to relinquish myself back to hooking up to a dialysis machine again.
I had had a fantastic gift of health and freedom but it would take – a miracle for a third. I love sharing my miracle third transplant, but not in this post today.
FACING THE FACTS
Highlights from the Canadian Organ Replacement Register Annual Statistics 2019 – 2020
• 1 in 10 Canadians has kidney disease; that’s 4 million people.
• The leading cause of kidney failure is diabetes at 38%.
• The number of people living with end-stage kidney disease has grown 35% since 2009.
• 46% of new patients are under the age of 65.
• More than 50,000 Canadians are being treated for kidney failure.
• Treatment for those with end-stage kidney disease:
• 58% are on dialysis, • 42% have a functioning transplant
• A person can lose more than 50% of their kidney function before symptoms appear. Symptoms are silent in the early stages.
• There is no cure for end-stage kidney disease.
• More than 25% of new end-stage kidney disease patients were late-referrals, which means they started dialysis only 90 days after first seeing a nephrologist.
• 75% of the 4,300 Canadians on the waiting list for an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney.
• Of the people on dialysis, only 11% are on the waiting list for a transplant.
• The five-year survival rate for adults with transplanted kidneys from living donors is 88% and 81% from deceased donors.
• There were 1,709 kidney transplants performed in 2018.
• Median wait time for a deceased-donor kidney transplant is 3 years, 10 months.
• Median wait times for 2018 were:
• longest in Manitoba (6 years, 3 months)
• shortest in BC & Yukon Territory (3 years, 1 month)
• 28% of kidney transplants were made possible by living donors.
• More than 50% of all living donors were unrelated to the recipient.
• Per million population, there were only 21 people who became organ donors and 15 people were living donors.
• Rates per million population for kidney transplants from deceased donors:
• Highest rate BC & Yukon Territory: 24.2
• Lowest rate Saskatchewan: 13.8
• Since 2008, the Kidney Paired Donation Program has completed 721 transplants.