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Russ Needs A Kidney

close up RUSS IMG_3748 (1)Hi. I’m Russ Sawatsky and I’ve got two bum kidneys, but one transplant will do. On this site you’ll find out how to give a kidney, get a kidney and save lives.

To find out more about organ donation, scroll down.

To be even more wonderful, sign your organ donation card.

To explore how to get Russ a kidney, please email kidneyforruss@gmail.com.

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The Kidney Walk is done for another year. Thank you.

It was a beautiful blue-sky kind of Sunday for this year’s edition of the Kidney Foundation‘s annual Kidney Walk in London, Ontario. As fundraisers go, it was quite a success, raising in excess of $38,000 for the Foundation. On an individual level, you, my sponsors, combined to put my walk first among individual fundraisers, raising $2,360. Thank you very much for your support for me and for this cause.

I am not a selfie pro. I cannot take a picture of myself and smile at the same time! The green shirt indicates a “champion,” with over $1000 raised.

Not everyone with kidney disease (or a transplant) is an old geezer like me. Among the folks I saw today was a family who were walking on behalf of their little son, who appeared to be all of 4 years old. Kidney Disease is a generic term because it can arise from a variety of causes and at a variety of ages. One young man of 34 spoke of his disease as having been genetic, inherited. The disease I was diagnosed with at 25 has its own distinct story. Whether known or unknown, I am grateful for the support of people like you, which helps advance patient care and medical research. Thank you.

Russ Sawatsky

How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Changed Organ Donation

I received a kidney from a living donor in 2016. That this happened was a result of developments described in this article, a program run by Canadian Blood Services that would take all the available but incompatible donor-recipient pairs across Canada and seek to match them up. After going through that exercise multiple times with no success, the difference came about because an altruistic anonymous donor came forward. This resulted in a chain of paired donations and new lives for many people.

The following article, although specifically addressing the US context, describes these circumstances in great detail. The opening lines really grab you:

How AI changed organ donation in the US

By Corinne Purtill

There used to be only three ways off of a kidney transplant waiting list. The first was to find a healthy person from within one’s own pool of friends and family, who perfectly matched both the recipient’s blood and tissue types, and possessed a spare kidney he or she was willing to part with.

The second was to wait for the unexpected death of a stranger who was a suitable physical match and happened to have the organ-donor box checked on their driver’s license.

The third was to die.

Although algorithms have made a tremendous difference in matching up eligible donors and recipients, the medical ethics around organ donation cannot be resolved by a mathematical model. I’m sure you will find the included discussion of a “God committee” fascinating.

Click here to read the article.

And in a related note, I’ll be participating in the Kidney Walk this weekend. If you are interested in supporting those living with kidney disease by making a donation, click here to go to my sponsorship page.

Engineered pig lung transplant ‘a success’

This development is great news for those who will need transplants in the coming years. It’s hard to imagine receiving a transplanted organ without requiring anti-rejection drugs. I take several myself every day and will continue to do as long as I have a functioning donor kidney. This is a wonderful example of the kind of research that goes on in the world of transplant medicine.

Engineered pig lung transplant ‘a success’

The engineered pig lung is shown here in its bioreactor. (J. Nichols, Science Translational Medicine 2018)

 

By Lucy R Green
Science reporter, BBC

Scientists have successfully transplanted a bioengineered lung into a pig.

To create a new lung, experts used a “scaffold” that provided structural support and slowly built up the lung tissue around it, using cells from the pig that was due to get the transplant.

This was done to prevent the lung being rejected by the pig’s immune system.

Once transplanted, the lung alveolar tissue and blood vessels carried on developing for up to two months.

Not only was the lung not rejected, but it even developed an important population of bacteria.

Lungs suitable for transplant are in short supply and the study is a significant step forward in finding an alternative solution. “People wait for a long time on a transplant list before they are able to receive a donated lung,” said co-author Professor Joan Nichols.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Going on a Kidney Walk, 2018 edition

It has been a while since I have published here.

I have been back at work since the beginning 2017. However, since mid-June I have taken a personal leave of absence. No, not because of ill health, but because my wife, Etsuko, has taken a short-term contract job in Japan. She is an interpreter for a Japanese construction company that is building wind turbines that were engineered by General Electric (GE). Since we did not want to be separated for several months, I’ve taken a leave until the new year.

Having said that, I will be back in London Ontario in early September for several weeks. That timing happens to allow me to participate in the Kidney Walk once again, which is what I am announcing by this post.

Here is my message on my personal donation page:

Hello, Friends!

Once again, for the fourth year in a row, I am participating in the Kidney Walk for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. The purpose of the walk is to raise funds to help people with kidney disease and to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Would you like to make a donation? If so, you can do it online by clicking the “donate now” button below. If you would like to donate by other means, please let me know and I will make arrangements.

As many of you know, I am currently in Japan. However, I will be returning to London, Ontario in early September in plenty of time for the walk. One of the wonderful benefits of having been a recipient of kidney transplant two years ago on July 29, 2016, is that I am now freely able to make this sort of extended trip with no trouble at all. I am so grateful.

Thank you for your support!

Russ

Out for some morning exercise in Noshiro, Akita, Japan.

DONATE NOW

 

 

The Globe and Mail. “No more secrets: Why I broke protocol as a kidney donor”

This “First Person” article originally appeared in The Globe and Mail on April 27, 2018.

 

 

Twice a year – at Christmas and in early June – I hear from a man whom I have met only once, who lives in a remote village far from my Vancouver home, but with whom I share something intimate: our kidneys. I’ve got one, he’s got the other. I’m not supposed to know this man. Protocols in the national Kidney Paired Donation program decree that donors and recipients who are strangers should remain that way.

Vern and I were part of a cross-Canada exchange involving multiple donor-recipient pairs that resulted in my daughter, Kasari, receiving a kidney from someone closer to her age and my kidney going to Vern, who is closer to my age and for whom my kidney will be a better match.

While for some, donor-recipient confidentiality in a paired kidney exchange makes perfect sense, for inquisitive people like Kasari and me (and, it turns out, Vern and his wife, Shirl), engaging in something as intimate as a kidney transplant ignites our most basic curiosity. Who is now walking around with my kidney? What kind of a person is she or he? How does she or he feel about it? How is my kidney working out for them? And who gave my daughter the incredible gift of her new kidney? I mean, this is a vital organ we’re talking about. This is shared DNA. This is important, life-altering stuff.

By putting two and two and two together and watching those shuffling the post-op corridors and the comings and goings during endless hours in post-op waiting rooms, Kasari and Shirl were able to figure out whose kidney went to whom. Because we are not supposed to know these things, they had to be tentative, discreet and sensitive to signals when exchanging pleasantries before my daughter could say, “I think my mum’s kidney went to your husband. What do you think?”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

 

 

Organ donation by Humboldt Broncos player inspires others

Please read this article about the decision Humboldt Broncos hockey player, Logan Boulet, made to become an organ donor. In particular, note that there are 4500 people across Canada in need of an organ transplant, among them a two-year-old boy named Mason.

Organ donation by Humboldt Broncos player inspires others

Donation agencies across Canada say registration jumped after bus crash that claimed 15 lives

Humboldt Broncos defenceman Logan Boulet, 21, was from Lethbridge, Alta. Boulet had recently signed an organ donation card and was kept on life support while matches were found for his organs. He was expected to save the lives of at least six people. (SJHL)

Many social media users say the donation of Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet’s organs has inspired them to become donors themselves, with health officials in three provinces saying online registrations have surged in the days following the horrific crash.

A spokesperson for British Columbia’s organ donation agency said it saw more than a sixfold increase in online registrations over the weekend compared to two weeks earlier, and Ontario officials said registrations nearly tripled Sunday over the same period of time.

Boulet, a 21-year-old defenceman from Lethbridge, Alta., was among the 15 people who died after the junior hockey team’s bus and a transport truck in Saskatchewan collided Friday. Fourteen others were injured.

His godfather posted a statement on behalf of the family saying a surgical team from Alberta travelled to a Saskatoon hospital to conduct organ transplant procedures early Sunday morning.

Neil Langevin said six people were set to receive the “gift of life” from Boulet, and his other organs would be donated to science.

“Logan had made it known, and very clear to his family, that he had signed his organ donor card when he turned 21 just a few weeks ago,” Langevin said in a Facebook post.

“These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others.”

Click here to read more…

Health Update

Just a brief update here today. The onset of Type 2 diabetes becomes more likely once one receives a transplant after age 45. Although my new kidney has been working well, I certainly haven’t wanted to put its good functioning to the test by having elevated blood sugar.

Here’s a chart which explains what the A1C numbers mean and where it puts one on the scale.

My first tests had me in the low 7s. Category: diabetic. The last time I was tested the A1C score came in at 6.4, a great number which indicated I had moved into the pre-diabetic range. This past week, the score was 5.8: non-diabetic! Wow. My first question was, “Does this mean I’m now free to scarf down a bunch of chocolate?” (I had visions of gnawing on the ears of a solid chocolate Easter bunny….) I was somewhat discouraged from pursuing that venture, but even so, I’m feeling pretty good about this number and hope I can maintain the disciplines of diet and exercise that have got me here.

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Easter (with or without chocolate!).

Grace and Peace,

Russ Sawatsky