Organ Donation Stressed at Kidney Walk
Prince George, B.C. – People afflicted with kidney disease and their supporters headed to the Northern Sport Centre Sunday afternoon for the 2016 Prince George Kidney Walk.
The annual event is held to raise money for the Kidney Foundation and help pay for some of the activities involving local kidney patients. Funds were raised through pledges to those taking part in the walk, a silent auction and through the presentation of a $5,000 cheque from the RBC Employee Foundation.
But the event is also held to raise awareness about the critical issue of organ donation. While 95 percent of British Columbians support the idea of organ donation, only 23 percent have actually registered with BC Transplant to donate organs.
One of the speakers Sunday was Amanda Poch of Vancouver, who this year is marking her 10 year anniversary of receiving a liver at age 26 from a 76-year-old man. She now has an 86-year-old liver which, she says, has functioned perfectly with no rejection whatsoever. (Amanda is pictured right, along with Guy Lapierre, who received a kidney from his sister six years ago.)
Amanda has been travelling the province this year on her Live Then Give tour educating people in many communities about organ donation. She says right now in the entire province of B.C. there are 540 people awaiting an organ transplant. That takes in all types of organs but Poch says 80% of those are for kidneys.
She is astounded that in a province this size organs are not available to meet the needs of those people on the waiting list. “The biggest problem that I have found from talking with people,” says Poch “was that they were misinformed about the process of organ donation. What exactly does organ donation mean? There’s a lot of fear that goes around and some of that has to do with silly movies on television, we’ve got people who are misinformed due to religion as well.”
She says “religions across the board believe that organ donation is a tribute to saving life yet, much like politics, (some) religion is all about perception and how you interpret the words. So those have been some of the problems.”
“But with 20% of British Columbians being registered (for organ donation), even if we raised it up to 50% we’d be able to eliminate that wait list. So it’s really sad to think that there’s only 540 people on the waiting list in B.C. but people are dying every day and getting listed every day. We should be able to fix this problem.”
She says awareness and discussion are crucial. “That’s right, making it a common conversation among families, and much like what you do with your will and estate at your end of life. It’s something that everybody knows that we need to do. We don’t necessarily have to worry about it for a long time coming but it’s always good to be prepared. And so much like that, it’s about making sure that you’re talking about it with your family and to let them know what your wishes are as well.”
Raymond Wakefield donated a kidney to his brother in September and is this year’s Kidney Walk honouree. He says “my uncle had a transplant over ten years ago, my dad had one about four years ago and of course my brother, now seven weeks ago. They’re all doing fantastic.”
“You know I hear all the time, people say to me, you’re a hero. I don’t think that’s true I think the real heroes out there are the ones sitting on dialysis, waiting for organ transplants and dealing with all the pain and suffering. My brother lost his job and went into bankruptcy, just wasn’t able to work and that was really hard. I had an opportunity to do this and now he’s back and doing great.”
“I recommend that anyone out there that has somebody in their family that they really love and don’t want to see them go by all means talk to the Kidney Foundation or talk to your doctor and find out the steps to what it takes to become a donor. It’s a very heartfelt thing to do.”