Kidney disease has taken its toll on many people, but it’s been particularly hard on the Mansfield family of Penticton.
Both mother and son, Dorothy, 64, and Dan, 43, share an illness requiring transplants.
Fortunately, after just nine months on dialysis in 2018, Dorothy had a live donor come forward and she received a healthy kidney.
Sadly, it was just about that time that Dan’s condition deteriorated to the point where he required dialysis and a new kidney to survive.
While most people needing a transplant have to wait years to find a match, Dan’s father Al has so far proven to be a suitable donor and it’s hoped the operation can happen before the end of the year.
“He’s had a really tough time. Dan’s had a number of operations already and it’s got to be pretty depressing when you’re sitting in the hospital (having dialysis) and then you hear, ‘Oh, so and so didn’t make it.’ There’s always that thought, ‘Well, I’ve got five per cent left of my kidneys maybe I won’t make it,’” said Al, whose family also lost their Lakeside Road home to a devastating fire in 2017.
Dan was in his mid-20s when he got his initial diagnosis however he said doctors assured him that by the time he needed a kidney there would be other alternatives to getting a transplant.
However with the rapid onset of the disease that wasn’t the case.
After failed attempts at home-based peritoneal dialysis involving an operation to put a catheter in his abdomen he eventually had to resort to the more traditional dialysis.
That means three trips a week to the hospital, so when he got the news his dad was a match naturally he was overwhelmed.
“I mean really, what can you say?” said Dan. “You don’t want to get too excited because it might still be a while before I get it, but it means that I can go back to work and do things like other people.”
“It’s pretty tough when you wake up and, ‘Ohhh, I’ve got dialysis today,’ and that’s like seven hours total of your day when you factor in the driving time and they hook you up for so long four hours.”
But still, even having to go through dialysis Dan was not one to feel sorry for himself.
“You can get down when you go to the hospital, but then you look around I’ve got it a lot better than some people, because there are people with missing arms and missing legs, there are lots of people who have it way worse than I do, it’s not the end of the world,” said Dan.
As well, with his mother having gone through the surgery, it gives him a bit more of an insight about what’s to come.
Along with his parents, there is someone else helping keep his spirits up, Noreen Conway, the lady who donated a kidney to his mother.
“That kind of makes her like family, my mom didn’t have any donors otherwise her generosity, wow, someone can be that selfless, it’s amazing,” said Dan. “It just seems like nowadays people are just thinking about themselves.”
Al recalled talking to his wife one day and her telling him she did not want to die, that she just wanted to “see her grandchildren grow up.”
“Dorothy was not doing well then, she was really weak but now she’s a new person, she has a new life. What Noreen did was the most selfless thing a person can do,” he said.
“That’s why when someone comes forward like Noreen did it can make all the difference in the world to someone’s life.
“So if I can do that for my son, then for him too, there is that light at the end of the tunnel.”
Al and Dorothy took part in the recent Kidney Foundation of B.C. and Yukon Kidney Walk and as well raised $5,000 through the White Spot restaurant franchise he owns and encourages everyone to become an organ donor.
“By doing that you can make just so much of a difference in so many peoples’ lives. I know.”
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