Roughly 100 people gathered to give back and support a good cause in Langford recently.
The 18th annual Kidneys on the Move event took place at the Royal Colwood Golf Course at the beginning of March.
The event is a legacy to Doug Hobbs, the late husband of Maureen Hobbs, director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon branch. Doug started the event after receiving a kidney transplant from his brother Keith on Valentine’s Day 2000.
“What hits me is most of the people in the room have come for 18 years,” Maureen said. She values teamwork, and feels the organization has cultivated a strong support system against kidney disease. Her son and daughter help out to ensure the event runs smoothly, and she thinks it’s a great honour to Doug.
Proceeds raised are donated to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. and Yukon branch and are designated for travel and accommodation expenses for patients who are donating or receiving a transplant in Vancouver.
The event included dinner, a silent auction, prizes and music bingo to cap off the evening.
People shared stories of both donating and receiving kidneys at the event. Cathy Shotton donated her left kidney to her daughter, Nicki, who had end stage renal failure. Nicki had six per cent kidney function due to undiagnosed high blood pressure, coupled with Type 1 diabetes that she has had since she was 11 years old.
Shotton and Nicki had surgery five months ago and Shotton said it was the most gratifying experience being able to help someone whose life is on the line.
“I actually said when I got out of the hospital, ‘I know this sounds weird, but I highly recommend it to anyone.’ It’s probably one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life and I’ve had three children,” Shotton said.
Before her surgery, Nicki was told she would feel better immediately once the transplant is complete, but she wondered how she would feel better. When she woke up after surgery, she hobbled down the hospital hallway to her mom’s room and told her she finally knew what they meant. Everything felt better. Her energy was up, her legs didn’t feel like cement anymore, her mind was clearer, and her breathing was better.
Her recovery over the last few months has been slow. She will have to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, which have been difficult for her body to adjust to.
Maureen said the event was a success raising more than $7,000, but the province is still in need of more donors. There are currently 652 people waiting for transplants in B.C.
She teaches in the nursing department at the University of Victoria, and started Sign Up Canada where nursing students are trained to be ambassadors for organ registration. The 2017 KOTM event raised $1,000 that went towards Sign Up Canada, and Camosun College and Thompson River University have also adopted the program in their nursing schools.
Maureen encourages anyone who is interested in learning more about kidney disease to check out a free online book Ending the Waiting Game: Increasing Kidney Transplants in Canada by Ken Merkley.
She herself is currently writing a handbook for children that teaches them about healthy living, because lifestyle affects kidney health, she said.
For more information on donating visit transplant.bc.ca.