I’m posting links to two articles about Cheryl Simoens, a 32-year-old, who is receiving a kidney from her brother 20 years after receiving a first transplant from her father. The first article, from the Winnipeg Free Press, contains the stark line that I used for the title of this post. The second article, from CTV News, raises the controversial subject of presumed consent but also describes the minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery that will be used to remove the kidney from the kidney donor, Cheryl’s brother, Michael Simoens.
First, her dad gave her a kidney, allowing Cheryl Simoens to grow up to be a half-marathoner and avid rock-climber.
Now, nearly 20 years later, it’s Simoens’ brother who is stepping up, donating his kidney to save his sister’s life.
“I feel incredibly grateful to have family members who are willing to donate an organ so selflessly,” Simoens, 32, said in a statement. “It is an indescribable feeling to be given the chance to get your life back and I am overwhelmed with joy to be able to live life to the fullest once again.”
This evening, the Simoens siblings will speak with the media in an effort to raise awareness about organ donation. Most people who need a new kidney die on the waiting list. In Manitoba, the typical wait is 5.5 to seven years for an available organ. In 2014, there were only seven kidney donations from deceased donors in Manitoba, and donation rates are “stagnating,” according to the local branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Huddled around a photo album, the Simoens family takes a timely look back at a day that changed their lives.
Twenty years ago, dad Ronald became a living kidney donor for his daughter, Cheryl. At the time, the young girl had already lived 11 years with Cystinosis; a chronic and genetic kidney disease.
“I was diagnosed at 15-months-old and rushed to the hospital many, many times. Very dehydrated, very listless and general failure to thrive,” said Simoens.
That changed with medication, and became a distant memory after the first transplant.
“We didn’t realize how suppressed her personality was because she was so sick for so long. But after the transplant, her personality just exploded and she started talking back,” said older brother, Michael.
Now 32, Simoens is active; taking on rock climbing competitions and setting her sights on a half iron-man. But in August 2015, things slowed down again when her kidneys began to fail once more.
Since this is an article from Winnipeg, here is the link to register as a donor in Manitoba.
I welcome your comments. In particular, what do you think of the idea of presumed consent, “where every Manitoban of adult age would be an organ donor unless they decided to opt out”?