Reema Garcha (left) donated a kidney to her sister Binn Johal last year. Submitted photo

Reema Garcha (left) donated a kidney to her sister Binn Johal last year. Submitted photo

‘Don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney’: B.C. women share transplant journey

Langley’s Reema Garcha donated her kidney to her sister Binn Johal in 2018

According to BC Transplant, 502 lives were saved in 2018 by organ donation, and this February marks the one-year anniversary of a life-saving kidney donation that came from Langley.

Last year, Willoughby’s Reema Garcha underwent a live kidney transplant to donate the organ to her older sister Binn Johal who lives in North Delta.

Ten years ago, when she was 36, Johal was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Vasculitus. Over time, the condition worsened and eventually Johal developed kidney disease.

And then in 2017, Johal’s doctor suggested she begin searching for a kidney donor.

“I always knew I was going to need a kidney, I just didn’t know when. And she [Garcha] always used to say to me ‘don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney,’” explained Johal.

READ MORE: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

After Johal’s family underwent a thorough testing process, it was revealed that Garcha was the only match.

“I was so excited. It was like living a life with purpose – to be able to know you can save your sister’s life. I didn’t feel scared at all to be honest, and I’ve got two young children as well. It was all about doing the right thing and being so thankful that I was a match,” said Garcha.

The two women went for surgery on Feb. 26, 2018, at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, and both agreed it was an “amazing” experience with attentive staff.

They are both in good health now, and Johal added, “I feel so much better, [have] way more energy, and I can eat food I couldn’t eat before.”

Garcha said she feels no different with one less kidney, and is “functioning perfectly.”

“I’d never know the difference,” she added.

Before moving to the Lower Mainland in their late teens, Garcha and Johal grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

Garcha, who is five years younger than Johal, said the age gap meant they “wern’t super close growing up,” but over time and into adulthood, the sisters developed “a very powerful bond.”

“Now knowing I was able to do this for her, and there’s been no indication of rejection, it’s a great feeling. If I had another kidney to donate, even to a random stranger, I would,” added Garcha.

According to Garcha, Johal’s kidney is the second transplant in their family, as years ago, a cousin received a heart transplant.

“We’re very appreciative of the whole donation side of things” Garcha said.

“I don’t want to be buried with any organ in my life. The purpose once I’m passed is to give life to others.”

Johal said her and Garcha are going to volunteer with The Kidney Foundation to “raise awareness and give back to the community.”

“I’m fortunate enough to get a kidney. A lot of people are not. To be on dialysis is not a good thing, some people don’t make it waiting and the quality of life is just deteriorating as you’re waiting,” explained Johal.

The 502 lives saved by organ donation in B.C. this year set a new record for total number of transplants in a calendar year.

“I’m proud to celebrate the selfless act of donation from so many British Columbians,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This record number of transplants is a testament to the spirit of our residents, who gave the greatest gift of all last year—the chance at a new life for others.”

In addition to an overall organ record, a kidney transplant milestone was also reached in 2018 with 339 transplants, including 100 living donors like Garcha.

For more information on organ donation in B.C., visit Transplant BC’s website.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria School for Ideal Education at 2820 Belmont Avenue is the second school in Greater Victoria with an active confirmed COVID-19 exposure. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Private school becomes second Greater Victoria school with COVID-19 exposure

Victoria School for Ideal Education follows Lakeview Christian School in Saanich

A seabin is able to intercept and collect floating debris in calm bodies of water. This is one of two installed in the North Saanich Marina by a group of local businesses thanks to the proceeds from Blue Friday sales in 2019. (Provided by Maya Bellay)
Blue Friday to support more trash skimmers in Greater Victoria waters

Seabins can collect up to one-and-a-half tons of floating debris per year

An economic recovery plan in progress since April offers various recommendations for the region to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Greater Victoria economic ‘reboot’ plan tackles impacts of COVID-19

Newly-formed task force looks at various sectors, industries

Vehicles involved crashes in Oak Bay from 2019. (ICBC Screenshot)
A crash on Foul Bay Road near Carnarvon Street in 2018. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Foul Bay Road a corridor of crashes in 2019

Last year, 63 crashes in Oak Bay involved vehicles

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL
BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read