Vancouver – In British Columbia, twice as many women as men offer themselves as living kidney donors, giving hope to people whose kidneys have stopped working and need dialysis or a transplant to survive.
The second Thursday of March is celebrated annually as World Kidney Day. This year, the date coincides with International Women’s Day – an occasion for recognizing the many contributions of women in all areas of society, including those who provide the gift of life to others by donating a kidney for transplant.
Brenda Williams of New Westminster is one such donor. Seven years ago her 17-year-old son, Bryn, was a national level field hockey player and accomplished high school athlete before he started to experience kidney trouble. As an infant, he had lost one of his kidneys to cancer, and the chemotherapy treatment he received at that time affected his remaining kidney. As his damaged kidney started to fail, he was forced to go onto dialysis.
For Brenda, the decision to offer one of her kidneys for transplant to her son was immediate. However, extensive testing was required to ensure her kidneys would be a match and not be rejected by her son’s autoimmune system. When the tests came back positive, she was raring to go.
Today, Bryn is a healthy 24-year-old who is again involved in high performance athletics, this time as a competitive free-style skier with ambitions of turning pro.
The theme for World Kidney Day 2012 is transplantation. Throughout March (Kidney Health Month) representatives of the BC Renal Agency, Kidney Foundation of Canada – BC Branch, and BC Transplant will partner with health professionals and volunteers to promote kidney health and organ donation at events and celebrations throughout the province.
Since 2007, 313 women and 157 men in B.C. have stepped forward to be living kidney donors, while 286 men and 184 women received the gift of life.
Brenda Williams, living kidney donor
“I couldn’t wait for them to get me onto the operating table. I wanted to have it done right away, before anybody might come up with a reason why it wouldn’t work.”
Bryn Williams, living kidney recipient
“I’m incredibly grateful to my mom for what she did for me. It created a bond between my mom and me at a level I could never have imagined before. It brought our whole family closer together.”