Sisters Reema Garcha and Binn Johal have always been close but having gone through the experience of an organ donation has strengthened their bond.
Eldest sister Binn Johal had battled kidney disease for years when in 2016 her doctors told her she would need a transplant.
“That’s when she approached family,” younger sister Reema Garcha recalled.
Garcha, along with other immediate family members, stepped up to the plate to get tested to determine if she would be a donor match for Johal.
“I just felt like if I can give my sister a better chance at life, I’m going to do it,” Garcha reflected.
The Langley mother was the first to learn she was a successful candidate to be a living organ donor for her sister.
“I was so excited to hear the news. I asked, ‘Does my sister know?’” Garcha recalled.
“I was the one that told my sister… this is going to change our lives forever,” Garcha remembered about ending her sister’s battle with the disease.
Garcha said it was the well-informed and supportive team of doctors at St. Paul’s Hospital who helped her reach her decision to become a live donor.
“The team is very well equipped to do all the testing that is required. They had a lot of discussions with me about the ways in which this could go, letting me know they would never put me in danger if they didn’t’ think I was healthy enough to undergo such a procedure,” Garcha said.
It’s been a few years now since the successful operation, but the moments in the recovery room remain a vivid memory.
“[Binn] was the first one to get up and walk to my room,” Garcha said. “We were in different rooms after the surgery.”
“She was full of life, of colour.”
“Right away, the feeling of energy she had was amazing, it was instant.”
As for Garcha, she said her quality of life continues to flourish.
“I do not feel that my life has been diminished in any way, at all,” the 43-year-old Willoughby resident said.
All that remains is a scar, which she said reminds her of the “purpose and joy” the experience brought to her.
“I just think of [Binn] as the strongest person I know,” Garcha said. “For her to have to ask for that, I know that was really hard for her.”
“She deserves to live a beautiful life.”
But Garcha’s organ donation positively impacted more than just Johal’s life.
“It’s not only changed my life, but it’s changed my family’s life as well,” the 48-year-old North Delta resident said.
“My kids don’t have to see a sick mom anymore. My husband, he used to run most of the errands because I was tired all the time, so we can go back to living a normal life.
“And for my sister, our bond was strong before, but it’s even greater now.”
The pair encourage others to consider registering as an organ donor. To learn more, visit BC Transplant at www.transplant.bc.ca.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.