When the Cranbrook resident started dialysis it was determined she was healthy enough to be on the transplant list. In the beginning, Hockley admits, she was very anxious about the prospects of receiving a new kidney, but the reality that the average wait in B.C. is five to ten years soon brought her into a routine.
“You really can’t think about it every day,” Hockley explains. So she would hook up to the machine at night, unhook in the morning and go about her day. Hockley even went on a trip to England, thanks to a portable dialysis machine. Every so often, she would check to see where she was at on the wait list until she finally received the call this May.
“It was at 2 pm, I was at work,” Hockley remembers. “You have a million emotions going on.” She had only a few hours to pack her bags, organize her life and fly to Vancouver where she knew she would have to stay for several months after the operation.
On the flight, with ample time to think, Hockley shared in the pain of a family that just lost a loved one while at the same time celebrating in her new life. She will always be grateful for the anonymous donor who took the time to sign a donor card and the family that followed through with the last wish. “Literally, they saved my life,” Hockley says.
Kidney disease, she emphasizes, not only affects the patient, but also family, co-workers and friends. As the body is no longer able to get rid of toxins on its own, patients get tired and experience other symptoms such as cramping and aching feet. Supplies for the dialysis machine need to be stored. “One of my guest rooms became a medical supply unit,” Hockley states.
Just a few months after receiving her donor kidney, Hockley is recovering well and says the difference in her life is like night and day. During dialysis she used to sleep for 12 hours per day, now she is full of energy again.
Kathryn Casimer is also recovering from kidney surgery, but instead of receiving, she gave one of her organs to her friend. Having witnessed her own mother suffer and eventually pass away from kidney cancer and being unable to help her get better, Casimer decided she could help her friend instead.
Before going under the knife, Casimer was tested thoroughly. “When you’re a donor, they work you over head to toe,” she says. “If you have any underlying condition you don’t know about, they will find out.” Over a period of three to four months, Casimer took several trips to Vancouver to have different tests, as well as undergoing checks here in Cranbrook.
Over the years, Casimer had seen her friend get progressively worse and she thinks at the time the surgery finally took place, Virginia only had about five per cent of her kidney function left.
Although her own recovery went anything but smooth - she was forced to stay in Vancouver for more than a month after - Casimer says she would do it again. “Watching my friend regain her life has been so awesome,” she points out.
Casimer’s donation process was supported all the way by the Kidney Foundation which paid for flights, accommodations, meals and other expenses, easing the burden on the donor as much as possible. To raise money so the Foundation can continue to help donors and kidney patients is one of the goals of the Cranbrook Kidney Walk.
“We’re also trying to raise awareness,” states Dawn Burns who is the walk’s coordinator. “What we’re trying to do is get the word out that people need to sign a donor card and they can do that at the walk.” Research shows that 85 per cent of Canadians say they would donate an organ, but only 17 per cent actually have a donor card, Burns adds. Together with her team of volunteers, she will help people by doing all the organizational work.
The Kidney Walk in Cranbrook goes this Sunday, August 28, at Confederation Park next to Elizabeth Lake. Registration is at 9 am and the walk starts at 10 am. People are encouraged to come down to walk, sign a donor card and just come down to join the fun. More information can be found on the web at www.cranbrookkidneywalk.ca.
There is a special pre-walk event on Friday night, August 26, at Dewey’s Pub in Cranbrook. Casimer’s friend and kidney recipient, Virginia Blatchford, will be performing with her band Luv Train, raising further awareness. The pub will give $1 from every drink special to the Kidney Foundation.