Clock is ticking for kidney disease patients

This article comes from my hometown newspaper, The Chilliwack Progress. The author, Jessica Peters, brings to light a number of important points when it comes to kidney disease.

1. Kidney failure is a progressive condition. The body has a remarkable ability to cope with declining kidney function without producing symptoms that are easily noticeable. Cameron Buchanan, the person at the centre of the story was down to 10 percent kidney function before he became aware of the seriousness of his situation.

2. Kidney transplants are the most common of organ transplants and the success rate for such transplants is high.

3. A kidney from a living donor provides the best outcome.

4. A match for donation, either living or deceased, is not always easy. As the article indicates, one man had been waiting on dialysis for eight years.

5. In British Columbia, 364 out of the 465 people in need of an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney transplant. The average wait time for a kidney transplant in BC is 4.8 years.

6. Many people say they are willing to donate their organs upon their death, but in BC, only 20 percent have registered as organ donors.

7. The opt-in vs. opt-out choice regarding deceased organ donation continues to be a live question. As the article notes, on May 1 there will be a summit in Vancouver on the merits of “assumed” consent for deceased organ donation.

8. Kidney disease is often a side effect of other diseases, for example, untreated high blood pressure or, as in Buchanan’s case, diabetes.

9. The costs to support a patient who has received a transplanted kidney are much less than to provide a person with life-sustaining dialysis therapy.

10. Potential living kidney donors go through a rigorous and confidential screening process and can change their mind at any time in the process, for any reason.

Clock is ticking for kidney disease patients

Cameron Buchanan, who's on kidney dialysis, and his mother Mary Jean are hoping more people will sign up to be a living donor to help shorten the wait list for those in need of organs. JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Cameron Buchanan, who’s on kidney dialysis, and his mother Mary Jean are hoping more people will sign up to be a living donor to help shorten the wait list for those in need of organs. JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

When Cameron Buchanan found out his kidneys were failing, he was already in stage four of kidney disease.

It came as a shock to him, like it does with many kidney disease patients.

“I didn’t feel any effects at that time,” he said. But blood tests showed that his kidneys were nearing the end of their lifespan.

Soon he began to feel some of the first noticeable symptoms, including fatigue. At that point, his kidneys had about 10 per cent lifespan left. Then one day his wife, Patti, realized he wasn’t making any sense. He was rushed to the hospital and tests showed he was down to six per cent kidney function.

It was time for dialysis, and planning for an eventual kidney transplant surgery began.

Now, after two and a half years of dialysis and learning to cope with the treatment’s side effects, 45-year-old Buchanan is looking for organ donors — for himself and for those he’s met along the way.

Kidneys are the most commonly transplanted organs in B.C., and the success rate is high for those who make it to surgery. Kidneys from living donors provide the best outcomes, but finding the right match is difficult. Of all Buchanan’s siblings, there are no suitable donors. His mom, Mary Jean Buchanan, is hoping someone in the community will step up to help her son.

To read more, click here.

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