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A new lease on life, indeed, with transplant

The Editor, Re. "A new lease on life with a donation" (The Tri-City News, Feb. 2).

The Editor,

Re. "A new lease on life with a donation" (The Tri-City News, Feb. 2).

I read with interest the article in your Tri-City Life section about how a kidney transplant changed Dorothy Wickinhiser's life 20 years ago, and about the need for donors to come forward.

My wife and I had the same experience just recently. Shortly after I retired in 2009, I found out my wife's kidney problems had reached the terminal stage. I decided then to volunteer as a donor by getting onto the database for an exchange, should I not be suitable as a direct donor.

After my phone call, BC Transplant sent me a long questionnaire to fill in. After review, I then had to undergo a battery of tests: blood type match, antibodies, kidney function, MRI. In order to ensure a successful transplant, no stone is left unturned, and a living donor transplant will only be undertaken if the donor is in good health.

Luck would have it that I turned out to be an almost ideal match for giving a kidney directly to my wife, and also in good health, with good kidney function, which made a donation possible.

On June 1, 2010, less than a year ago, we both went under the knife and the transplant was performed.

My experience has been as good as can be. I was treated extremely well before and after the operation. The Kidney Foundation paid for a hotel room near Vancouver General Hospital the night before my operation (I had to be at the hospital by 6 a.m.) as well as other incidental expenses.

The treatment in the transplant section of the hospital after the removal of one of my kidneys was first class. The removal operation itself is actually quite minor, being performed laparoscopically. I had the operation on a Tuesday and, by Friday, I was allowed to go home. Within two weeks, I was driving again and, within 4 weeks, I was doing everything as before.

Today, eight months after the operation, I feel exactly as before and have absolutely no symptoms hinting that I now live with one instead of two kidneys. Of course, I am now under observation myself to monitor my system but I consider that a positive.

Having gone through the experience, I recommend to anybody to volunteer for a kidney donation. It's not really that big a deal for the donor but it makes a world of difference for the recipient.

In closing, I would like to stress that it has been a very rewarding experience. Having given a new lease on life to a sick person gives you a feeling beyond any description, particularly if dialysis can be avoided, as was the case with my wife.

M. Guenther, Port Coquitlam