Walk highlights importance of organ donation

The 2011 Penticton Kidney Walk, a promotional event for organ donation, is being held Sunday at Gyro Park at 9:30 a.m.

The 2011 Penticton Kidney Walk, a promotional event for organ donation, is being held Sunday at Gyro Park at 9:30 a.m.

The walk is meant to raise awareness in order to close the gap between those who support donating and those who are actually registered. Recently, as many as 85 per cent of B.C. residents surveyed said they were in favour of organ donation but only 17 per cent have registered as donors.

Donors are put through rigorous testing to ensure that the individual is healthy enough both physically and psychologically to go through with the procedure.

“Doctors will never go through with it if they think it will diminish a healthy persons quality of life … My husband has been running in marathons, he is proof that you can be a living donor and still lead a full and healthy life. He’s never once regretted it,” said Laura Craig, volunteer event co-ordinator, who was diagnosed with kidney disease 15 years ago.

“It can take up to 10 years to receive a kidney, and by that time many are too weak to even go through the surgery. I was lucky enough to have my husband donate to me, he is my hero. I am very, very fortunate.

“Physically, I can do everything I could do before,” said Laura’s husband, Terry Craig. “People think you’re limited if you donate an organ but you’re not. I’m hoping to qualify for Ultraman next year … Emotionally, it’s such a great experience, to know that you saved someone. It’s easily the highlight of my life.”

The Kidney Foundation of BC, a self-professed grassroots organization, is putting on the walk in 19 communities across the province in hopes of getting the word out.

The foundation is hoping to raise $15,000 this year, which will go towards research and raising awareness.

Along with the walk, there will be prizes and a silent auction on items such as a signed Ryan Kesler Canucks jersey and lunch with Mayor Dan Ashton, as well as free Starbucks, food and entertainment and family friendly activities like face painting.

The Kidney Walk is sponsored locally by Kemp Harvey Kemp Inc., Global TV, Ocean Spray and Bellingham’s MeTV KVOS Station.

For more information or to volunteer, participate or donate, please contact Laura Craig at 250-492-3134 or visit www.kidney.ca.