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In April 1998, Dr.Paul McArthur, my family physician in Walkerton, discovered a problem with my kidneys. Subsequent testing at London Health Sciences Centre by Dr. Claude Kortas revealed that I had polycystic kidneys, a genetic disease which I found very surprising since no one else in my family has this disease. Thereafter I was constantly tested as the disease progressed. During this period my brother Bob unselfishly offered to donate one of his kidneys to me. Through various tests it was determined that Bob’s kidney was a match for me. Once the creatinine count was dangerously high, Dr. Kortas suggested that the transplant should take place. Fortunately I never had to go on dialysis.
On November 29, 2000, I was so fortunate to have Dr. Patrick Luke transplant the kidney from my brother to me. My hospital stay was longer than usual. After the operation I was given two anti-rejection drugs. The first drug, mycophenolate, worked immediately; the creatinine count lowered by half. On the second day when I was given the drug, cyclosporine, the creatinine stopped lowering. My body did not accept this drug. Another drug, sirolimus, was then introduced. At that time sirolimus was just being tested in Canada. The creatinine remained the same; however, my body wasn’t rejecting it and the kidney seemed healthy. During this time of uncertainty, I received such special care from the compassionate nurses and doctors in the Transplant Unit. Even though nothing was happening, Dr. Luke was convinced that the kidney was healthy and should start up. I was allowed to return home a couple of days before Christmas since my own kidneys were still functioning to a limited extent. Then during the holidays, I returned to London Health Sciences Centre for a check-up and the new kidney had started functioning. It was a wonderful Christmas gift from my brother.
My friend and next-door neighbour sewed the quilt patches for my brother (who is on the Donor Quilt) and me. The Celtic cross represents my strong faith. The circle of life emphasizes that family and friends are so important in my life. She put a four-leaf clover representing ‘Good Luck’ and my Irish heritage. A cross-stitched book denotes my profession as a teacher. The water pattern signifies a rebirth of life with my kidney transplant. Finally, she made a smile since she says I have a happy disposition.
With the kidney transplant my brother has given me ‘New Life’. Thank you my brother and very dear friend. Thank you also to the wonderful doctors and nurses in the Transplant Unit and all the special people in the London Health Sciences Centre Nephrology Clinic.