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Plea for organs: Dialysis patient in B.C. dreams of live donors stepping up

"I'm stuck asking the general population, someone to step up and save my life."
dialysis patient
Ed Warkentin is in desperate need of a kidney donor so he can stay alive for his wife and his 17-year-old son with special needs. Photo: Castanet

Ed Warkentin is in desperate need of a kidney donor so he can stay alive for his wife and his 17-year-old son with special needs. 

"I want to be around for my kid. He is going to need me for years to come," Warkentin said while undergoing dialysis at Penticton Regional Hospital Saturday. "I'm not ready to go yet."

Warkentin's kidneys are failing, and three times a week he drives up from his home in Oliver to spend five hours in a chair hooked up to a machine that cleans his blood. Without the dialysis, he would die, and without a new kidney, this will be his reality, which is an incredible strain on his family. 

"It's affecting everything, putting a lot of stress on my wife. Last summer, we decided we better start making memories, so we took my son to the Kamloops zoo for three days. Well, little trips like that are now out of the question, because I have to be here," Warkentin explained. 

Family and friends have stepped forward offering a kidney, but all have fallen through, either due to not matching Warkentin's O-negative blood type or for health reasons that disqualified them. 

"So now I'm stuck asking the general population, someone to step up and save my life," Warkentin said. 

He is far from the only dialysis patient waiting and hoping for a donor in the PRH renal ward.

Annick Lim is a longtime Kidney Foundation volunteer and kidney transplant recipient who tries her best to bring some comfort to the patients. She started the Warm the Sole campaign to bring cozy socks to the ward, which she did Saturday. 

"I've had my kidney transplant since February of 1999, and one thing I remember from before my transplant is that my feet, especially my feet, were always, always cold," Lim explained. 

She hands out wool socks and information packages from the Kidney Foundation every year, and is a staunch advocate for encouraging living donors, having received her own kidney from her father. 

"I'm 44, my kidney is going to be 70 years old this year. A lot of people think they are too old to become either a live donor or to donate their organs. That is probably the biggest misconception," Lim said. 

"So I'm addressing this to every single citizen out there, whether you have a blood disease, you've previously had cancer, let the experts make the decision to see if you're a good candidate to donate your organ."

For Warkentin, the dream of a living donor stepping forward with a match brings emotion into his voice. 

"You know, a lot of people go 'Well I've signed up for organ transplant, I've got the donor card,' well that only works when you're gone," Warkentin said. "For somebody to step up and donate a kidney, being a living donor...I'd be without words."

For more information on organ donation both living and post-mortem, or to donate to the Kidney Foundation which operates Warm the Sole and many other outreach and research programs, click here

To find out if you can donate a kidney specifically to Ed Warkentin, call the Vancouver General Hospital Pre-Transplant Clinic toll-free at 1-855-875-5182.


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