Few people know better the joy of giving than Penticton’s own king of fries, Jeff Treadway.
That’s because the owner of the Jeffer’s Fryzz food truck, has given his son Tim a new lease on life through a living donor, kidney transplant.
Without the operation, which took place at Vancouver General Hospital April 4, Tim, now 24, faced an agonizing wait of up to 10 years on dialysis for a matching cadaver donor.
“There was not a second thought,” said Jeff, 54, as he worked in the confined mobile kitchen, serving fries to the growing line of customers on the Nanaimo Avenue sidewalk below. “He’s my baby and I told him I would look after him and away we went. As soon as I heard he needed a transplant I was all over it.”
Tim was actually playing hockey in a local beer league at the South Okanagan Events Centre one Friday night in September, 2014 when he suddenly collapsed.
He was taken to hospital where they checked him over and did some routine blood tests.
Tim was floored when the results showed his kidneys were functioning at less than 10 per cent.
“At that point it was a little scary alright,” said Tim who hadn’t had any prior symptoms. “I guess anyone’s reaction would be the same, you either cry, you’re shocked or you don’t do anything, but I just balled my eyes out.”
It was eventually determined he suffered from IgA Nephropathy in where antibodies lodge in the kidneys, over time impairing the ability of the organs to filter waste in the blood.
Tim spent the next two weeks in the hospital on dialysis and the search began for a match.
It wasn’t until eight months later it was determined his father was the man for the job.
“It was one of the best matches the doctors had ever seen, we were like perfect in every way, it was just awesome,” recalled Tim. “It actually happened to be the day after my birthday so it was a late birthday present, but that was still pretty cool. It was the best gift ever.”
True to what Tim describes as his dad’s “funky” character, Jeff was not worried about the outcome heading into surgery, even managing to take a selfie with his wife Beth five minutes before.
“Beth asked me if I was not afraid of death and you know what, I did not once ever think of losing my son. I was totally confident in the universe in the doctors, in God and I never had fear ever. It was actually exciting. It was the coolest thing, when they did the operation there were just three little holes and a cut right here,” said Jeff pulling up his shirt to show off his prized scars.
And not one to lay around even after major surgery, Jeff was up to visit his son two hours later.
“As soon as Tim was coming to, I got out of my bed, I brought my pee bag and my IV over to his bed: ‘Timmy can I get you a glass of water? Timmy do you need something to eat? Your feet rubbed? And he goes ‘dadddd.’ There I was just out of surgery trying to look after my boy,” said Jeff, as Tim stood shaking his head in the kitchen nearby.
Although he did not actually witness the transplant, in his best story-telling voice, and a sparkle in his eye, Jeff gave the play-by-play relayed by the surgeon
“They took my kidney out and placed it in an icy, milky solution and wheeled Tim in. There’s my opaque kidney just sitting there, kind of grey and the doctor placed it in Tim and sewed in the vein that tied it together and soon as they released the clamp the kidney went pink and began to work.”
For Tim the results were immediate, and life changing, and he’s even back to playing hockey.
His health is now paramount, not smoking (he’s taken up knitting to keep his hands busy) and watching what he eats although he does admit having the occasional french fry.
However, he does still have one lingering question.
“How do I say thanks to my dad? It was probably the biggest blessing I could ever have in my entire life. To have a father that is able to help his own son with something so precious as life is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.
“I am so thankful for that.”
Kidney walk this weekend
Father and son Jeff and Tim Treadway are living proof to the valuable work of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
They are this years special honourees in Sunday’s BC Kidney Walk for kidney transplantation and organ donation.
“What the foundation did for us before during and after, and what they have done and continue to do for many others is just incredible,” said Jeff, who earlier this year donated a kidney to his son. “They took care of everything. Food, lodging, transportation and six weeks lost wages for me as well as putting Tim up in the Kidney Suite.
“I don’t believe people realize just how much they do and how important it is to the recipient and the family not to have those worries at such a stressful time. I can’t thank them enough.”
For that reason Jeff has organized the first of what he says will be many Team Fryzz entries in Sunday’s walk at Gyro Park.
“We’ve set a goal of $5,000, which is a lot, but that is the least we can do and we’re urging as many people as possible to support us,” said Jeff. “It’s our turn to give back.”
Tim agreed: “Until you’ve been in this situation, you just don’t know how important it is. If you’re thinking about donating, do it, don’t wait or think, it’s automatic.
“As many people as possible should come out the walk even if they don’t donate any money but just to support the cause and help raise awareness.”
Registration is at 9 a.m. and the 2.5-kilometre walk starts at 10 a.m.
The Jeffer’s Fryzz food truck will be at Gyro serving up their specialty for a donation to the cause.
“That’s for everyone except those who are either a donor or recipient, they’ve already paid,” said Jeff.
For those keeping score, Team Fryzz is one of two local teams in the top 10 fundraisers in B.C. and Jeff and Penticton’s Annick Lim are in the top 10 individuals.
Kidney Vitalities is the other Penticton team.
Anyone wanting to donate can go to, www.kidneywalkbc.ca/.