A Langley woman with kidney failure who thought she had found a donor has discovered differently, and now Shelagh Brennan is making a renewed appeal for help.
“I’m back to square one,” the Murrayville resident told the Langley Advance Tines.
After the province put elective surgeries on hold in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brennan, a Murrayville resident, had something to celebrate in May, with news that operations would be resuming.
A hold had been ordered to free up beds and staff for an expected surge in coronavirus patients in need of acute care, and Brennan’s surgery was considered elective because she can use dialysis.
Her kidneys abruptly failed for unknown reasons last fall.
She went from leading a healthy and active life, where she was able to go skydiving in the summer of 2019 to celebrate her 65th birthday, to requiring dialysis twice a week after her kidneys shut down by mid-December.
She went on social media to appeal for potential donors, but it looked like her best bet was going to be her younger brother, Kevin.
Initial tests found Kevin to be a good match, and she was told September was the “target month” for the surgery.
But then, in August, additional tests ruled him out.
“He was found to have some high blood pressure that did not show during regular testing,” Brennan explained.
“High blood pressure affects kidney function, so he is no longer able to donate.”
It is “disappointing” news that means her trips to Surrey Memorial Hospital for hemo-dialysis will continue, a “very stressful” trip for her during the pandemic.
“I isolate most of the time because of COVID,” Brennan recounted, “just going for walks with my husband and dogs.”
She is on a list to learn how to do dialysis at home, but that will take a “number of months before all the stars line up correctly,” she said.
Brennan is hoping to find a living donor willing to be tested.
“If all matches a surgeon, the donor and an OR need to be booked,” she commented.
“I of course, can come anytime.”
Several prominent Langley residents have had living donor transplants, including former Langley Township councillor Charlie Fox, who received a kidney from his wife.
Brennan is also on the deceased transplant list, but the estimated wait is about four years.
Because people can live with just one kidney, it is one of the few organs for which living donor programs are common.
In 2018, there were 4,300 Canadians on waiting lists for an organ. Of those, 78 per cent were waiting for a kidney, according to the Kidney Foundation.
A seeks to help those in need of a kidney find a donor.
If someone is willing to be considered as a donor, they can contact the Kidney Foundation of Canada online to register through the living donor program or email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Shelagh Brennan specifically.