One person can save eight lives (24 photos)Saturday, September 14, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Sault Ste. Marie’s Teresa Disano and husband Marc (pictured) took part in the Kidney Foundation’s annual Kidney Walk Saturday morning.
Kidney disease has been an intensely personal battle for the couple, but one which has had a happy ending.
Marc donated one of his kidneys to Teresa in May 2012 after she was first diagnosed with kidney disease in February 2011.
Teresa told SooToday.com she had been experiencing flu-like symptoms for a month, and then was diagnosed at Sault Area Hospital (SAH) in February 2011 with Wegener’s Disease, a respiratory disorder which attacked her kidneys.
As Teresa underwent four-hour dialysis treatment sessions at SAH three days a week, Marc went through the testing process to see if he could donate one of his own kidneys to Teresa.
“Dialysis disrupts your life,” said Teresa, who is employed full-time in a dental office and is actively involved in our community.
Still, Teresa continued to work while undergoing treatment.
The donor testing process for Marc took several months.
It was eventually confirmed that Marc was a suitable donor match for Teresa.
“It was pretty gruelling, but once we found out I was a donor, it was great.”
The couple travelled to hospital in London, Ontario and underwent transplant surgery in May 2012.
Teresa was in hospital for five days after surgery and stayed in London for follow-up appointments.
She returned home to Sault Ste. Marie and was soon back to her job as a dental office assistant.
Teresa goes to SAH for regular checkups and blood tests, but told us: “I feel great. There’s no discomfort, no complications. I run and keep active.”
For himself, Marc said: “It took me about 10 to 12 months after surgery before I felt normal again.”
“The first two months were the toughest, but after I got my energy back I was able to go to work, then play golf or work out all in one day without feeling fatigued.”
The purpose of Saturday’s event, one of many Kidney Walks held across Ontario, is to raise funds to help people across the province living with kidney disease through research, finding improved treatments, and promoting kidney transplant awareness.
Participants in Saturday’s local Kidney Walk, many of them organized into teams, began their journey at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion and proceeded along the St. Marys River boardwalk to the Canal and back.
Teresa and Marc were accompanied in Saturday’s walk by 17 members of the Atom hockey team Marc coaches.
For Teresa, Saturday’s walk was all about raising awareness about the importance of registering to be an organ or tissue donor.
“One person can help save eight lives,” she said.
One person’s organ and tissue donations can save eight lives and benefit more than 75 people in all, according to the Canadian Transplant Society.
Teresa has spoken to children in local schools about the importance of organ donation.
A comment made by one child made an impression on her.
“One boy stood up and asked me why doesn’t everybody register to donate organs, because when you die your body just goes in the ground.”
“If more people could register, the thousands of Canadians that are waiting for an organ are going to get another chance at life.”
SAH renal nurse Brenda Daynard, who helps prepare patients waiting for their transplants, was on hand for Saturday’s walk.
Daynard told us she currently cares for 57 post-transplant people, with about 40 others currently on the waiting list for transplants.
Approximately 70 people come in for dialysis per day at SAH, with another 25 receiving peritoneal dialysis in their homes.
“It’s like a part-time job for the patients to come in and get dialysis three days a week for four hours at a time.”
“It’s a chronic illness. Fortunately we have all the facilities for dialysis at Sault Area Hospital,” Daynard said.
Sault Ste. Marie Kidney Foundation of Canada office Campaign Coordinator Penny Marquis told us the local branch raised about $25,000 in last year’s walk, hoping to raise the same amount this year.
Marquis told us 58 people officially registered for the walk, but approximately double that number participated and donated, as many people bring at least one friend.
“We’re committed to donation awareness,” Marquis said.
“A lot of times it’s a silent disease, there aren’t always symptoms. It’s good to keep in touch with your doctor.”
Stating that she was grateful for the involvement of participants, volunteers and corporate sponsors for Saturday’s walk, Marquis told us funds raised through the event go to the Kidney Foundation’s head office for research, but dollars flow back into our community to provide services and support for kidney disease patients.
“Research has progressed over the years,” Marquis said.
“There is now longer life expectancy, and dialysis treatments are shorter than they were.”
“There is hope, absolutely.”