- BC Games
'My wife saved my life,' says kidney transplant recipient
William and Louise MacKintosh weren’t going to let something called “kidney disease” get in the way of their golden years.
Despite being diagnosed in 1982, William and his wife have been an active couple: They enjoy travelling, golfing, walking, spending time with their four grandkids — aged eight to 11 — and dancing (he is the former president of the Glenayre Scottish Country Dance Club in Port Moody).
But in February 2012, when he was put on dialysis after his kidney function dropped to 6% and his health got weaker, the former Coquitlam residents knew time was ticking.
William had been on the waiting list for two years for a kidney transplant, hoping for a pair exchange with another husband-wife team also in need of a donation. When that didn’t pan out, doctors asked the MacKintoshes if they would be willing to try an experiment: For William to take one of Louise’s kidneys, even though it was not compatible.
“They came to us and said, ‘Would you like to be the guinea pigs?’” said William, now 67. “We thought, ‘Why not?’”
The operation was done on July 16, 2012, at Vancouver General Hospital — the first non-compatible kidney transplant to happen outside of the Toronto area.
Recovery took six weeks, after which William visited with doctors regularly to see his progress. Today, his kidney function is at 60% “and Bill and I can do everything we did before,” Louise said.
“Everything is good,” William added. “In fact, the doctors have said it’s one of the best transplants they’ve seen in a long time.”
William now gets check-ups every two months and he volunteers and fundraises often with the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
On Sunday, he and Louise are the regional honourees for the Kidney Walk in the Tri-Cities, which takes place at 10 a.m. at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park. There, the Langley couple will be joined by the Glenayre Scottish Country Dance Club to perform a routine.
And William will also speak about the need to be tested by a doctor for high blood pressure, which caused his kidney disease (his mother also died from the illness).
“A lot of people don’t know they have kidney disease so it’s important that they get checked and to look over their family history,” William said. “We also want to make people aware that they can live with one kidney.
“In my case, my wife saved my life. In fact, I can tee up for ladies’ golf because I have a woman’s kidney now. It’s really improved my game,” he joked.
• Registration for the Kidney Walk in the Tri-Cities starts at 9 a.m. on Aug. 18 at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park (off Pinetree Way, north of the Evergreen Cultural Centre). The 2.5-km walk and 5-km run begins an hour later. Call 1-800-567-8112 or visit www.kidney.ca/bcwalk.