‘I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for dialysis and a transplant’

Photograph by Kirsten Jerry

Isabella Jones, 13 months, and her mother, transplant recipient Kristy Jones, 38, dancing at the fifth annual Kidney Foundation Fundraising and Awareness Luncheon.

Six people all with a similar experiences to share.

The six, who have either donated a kidney, received a transplant, or have had a family member affected by kidney disease, shared their stories at the fifth annual Kidney Foundation Fundraising and Awareness Luncheon at the Holiday Gardens Slovenian Country Club in Pickering on Feb. 10.

There was a panel discussion where the following questions were aked: How did you discover you had kidney disease? What where the main challenges you faced when transitioning to being on dialysis? Can you travel while on dialysis and what was that like?

The event offered support, fun, awareness and fundraising opportunities for the Kidney Foundation Canada.

“I wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for dialysis and a transplant,” said panelist Pat Howell, 84, speaking of her own experience with kidney disease.

Howell has been coming to the lunch for three years.

She was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2000 and received her transplant in 2004.

Howell also has three sons who have each been given transplants.

“When Pat started the only educational material was from the Kidney Foundation,” said attendee Colleen Harrison, 60, a nurse who has been involved with the renal program, a program for those with kidney disease who need dialysis, for 26 years.

“The Kidney Foundation offered support. It offered education materials and today it still does the same thing.”

Harrison said while there are now many manuals for dialysis treatment, she still uses the one produced by the Kidney Foundation.

“It’s the best manual out there,” she said.

Lisa Huhn, 51, is also a kidney recipient. She has endured many medical challenges.

Huhn was not a panelist but attended the event.

Her first transplant came from her mother in 1995. Unfortunately, her body rejected that kidney.

She later received a kidney and pancreas transplant on May 2, 1997 and developed a rare virus afterwards.

She lost the kidney from that transplant around 2000 and had another pancreas transplant in 2008, which she lost in 2014.

Later in 2014 Huhn developed cancer allegedly from the use of anti-injection drugs for 17 years and went through chemotherapy treatments, losing her hair. Her hair has since grown back.

She has also had the rare privilege of meeting her donor, a then 10-year-old boy named Ryan.

Panelist Joan Bourque, 68, who donated a kidney to her daughter seven years ago, also attended.

The lunch featured kidney-friendly options, dessert, including an ice cream bar, face painting, guest speakers and a dance demonstration and lesson given by Tyler Gordon and Anna Barsch of Arthur Murray Dance Centres in Ajax.