First ever Kidney Walk about saving lives
Life could not be better for kidney transplant recipient Kim Hillard.
Thirteen years ago her sister donated one of her kidneys when Hillard’s failed. The successful operation brought an end to six months of dialysis treatment that left her exhausted and handcuffed to a machine three days a week.
“I look at it that, unfortunately, something bad happened to me and we fixed it,” Hillard, 44, said Thursday. “Now, my life is great. I have a great life and do all the normal stuff people do.”
Hillard will join dozens of people Sunday in front of the Riverside Park bandshell for the city’s first ever Kidney Walk. The event, a fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation of Canada, opens with registration at 9 a.m. and the 2.5 K or 5 K walk starts at 10 a.m.
Unknown to Hillard, she was born with only one kidney. Doctors made the discovery when she was 21 and spent the next 10 years monitoring her in case of complications.
Then Hillard fell ill one day. At first, the symptoms made her think she had the flu. It turned out she suffered end-stage renal failure.
“It’s where you have no kidney function whatsoever,” she said. “I had one kidney, it lasted for 31 years, and boom.”
A week after the diagnosis, Hillard was on dialysis, which required her to undergo treatment for four hours at a time every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Her life was restricted while on dialysis. Anything that went into her body stayed there until treatment. On the days between treatments she was so tired that she could work and do little else.
“Six months to me today is nothing. When you are on the machine and you can’t go anywhere, it’s tough,” she said.
“I was fortunate. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but some people don’t.”
That’s why Hillard hopes people will come out and support the walk on Sunday. She said the kidney transplant gave her back her life, and she wants the same for everyone undergoing treatment.
Walk organizer Leissa Remesoff said there are 918 kidney patients in Kamloops, 120 of which are on some form of dialysis. Thirty-four are waiting for a transplant.
Being the first year, Remesoff will be happy if the event raises $10,000. She said 85 per cent of the funds raised goes to patient services.
She said participants will be invited to take their first steps to becoming a "kidney hero" by participating in the walk and signing up to become an organ donor.
The day will feature a barbecue sponsored by Canadian Western Bank, live entertainment from Strange Brew, and a silent auction with two tickets to anywhere WestJet flies in North America.
To register for the walk, visit www.kidney.ca/bcwalk, or call 250-851-2637.