Penticton resident Annick Lim celebrates the 20th anniversary of her kidney transplant, Feb. 8, 2019. (Photo Submitted)

Annick Lim celebrates milestone anniversary and record-breaking organ donations across B.C.

Penticton’s organ donation poster child will celebrate the 20th anniversary of her life-saving live kidney transplant on Feb. 8.

Annick Lim was diagnosed with kidney disease at 18 months old and received a living kidney donation from her father at the age of 22. She said she’s extremely grateful to her poppa and plans to send him “a nice parcel” to celebrate.

“This is bonus time for me,” Lim said. “I always send him a present for his birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas and then my kidney-versary.”

Lim has also planned a party for 20 people at the Pasta Factory, which is owned by her close childhood friend Debra Williams.

Related: Giving the gift of life in Penticton

The milestone anniversary is plenty of reason to celebrate, but Lim has at least two more reasons: 2018 was a record-breaking year for organ donation in B.C.

According to BC Transplant, a total of 502 transplants took place around the province in the last calendar year. Kidney transplants also reached a record high, with 339 transplants taking place.

“A large part of that increase was due to B.C.’s continued focus on living kidney donation — 100 living donors in 2018 — in combination with a coordinated shift toward pre-emptive kidney transplants before a patient needs dialysis,” the release from BC Transplant said.

Transplants of kidneys and other essential organs may be becoming more common, but Lim also recognizes that “it’s not the most common” for the organs to last as long as hers has.

Related: Penticton woman is the poster child for organ donation

“I’ve had a couple of friends where it lasted six months,” she said. “Then there’s a guy in London that just celebrated 50 years. 50.”

Lim said “you just don’t know how long it will last,” and stressed the importance of following the doctors’ orders to improve longevity.

“You have to take your medication every 12 hours for the rest of your life,” she said of kidney transplant recipients, admitting that even she sometimes gets up in the morning and doesn’t feel like taking her meds.

Lim put those days down to how repetitive taking the drugs can become, and noted the appetite-stimulating side effects of the prednisone, which often results in weight gain.

But, in the 20 years since her transplant, Lim said she has only accidentally missed four doses.

“It’s a funny thing. I’ll wait an hour and then I’ll be like ‘OK, I’ll take my medication now,’” she said of the days she doesn’t feel like taking it. “It’s always best to follow the directions, take your medication on time, get your blood work done every month and go to your doctor visits.

“Always have enough medication on you,” she added, emphasizing that the immune system builds up antibodies and increases the risk of rejection as soon as one skips a dose.

Related: ‘Don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney’ — B.C. women share transplant journey

Lim applauded the increase in donated organs, but also encouraged more people to join the donor registry.

“There are hundreds of people in this province who are still waiting for their life-saving transplant. There are around 50 people just here in our tiny city who are waiting for their life-saving transplant,” she said. “If everybody registered, there would be virtually no waiting list.”

As of Jan. 1, BC Transplant reported that 669 people are waiting for an organ transplant in B.C.

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