Kidney walk highlights necessity of donors

Give the Gift of Life Walk set for Sunday

You only need one kidney to live – the other one can save someone else’s life.

That’s the message John Dobson wants to send about kidney donation.

The 41-year-old has struggled with glomerulonephritis – a disease that attacks part of the kidney that filters waste – for 20 years, but a kidney transplant has let him control the disease. There is no cure for glomerulonephritis.

“There’s such a difference you can make by being a donor. It’s allowed me to live a normal life,” Dobson said.

Dobson is the honoree for this year’s Give the Gift of Life Walk, sponsored by the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

The focus of this year’s walk is organ donation.

While John received his kidney from a cadaver, Diana Dobson, president of the Victoria chapter and John’s mother, said she’s seeing a jump in living donors.

Live donors account for half of donations every year. The recipient often fares better with an organ from a living, healthy person.

Recovery after the surgery is constantly improving, said John. Donors no longer have to wait several weeks to recover.

The transplant list for those waiting for kidneys is several years long.

“For me to have two transplants within five years was a miracle,” said John.

He was a healthy, active 21 year old when he was diagnosed in 1992. He was on dialysis for three years, and then received a new kidney, but his body rejected it.

A second transplant was successful and he has been living with the kidney for the past 14 years.

But there’s no telling when the disease might strike his body again and reject the organ.

“Once you have kidney disease, it’s chronic, it’s with you for life,” Diana said.

The Give the Gift of Life walk begins at 9 a.m. Sunday (Aug. 14) at Clover Point. The route ends at Mile Zero. There will also be children’s activities, musical entertainment, mascot Sidney the Kidney and donor registration forms.