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Apr 22, 2021

Sharing Experiences, Inspiring Others

The Kidney Foundation of Canada is fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers provide their time, energy and expertise to its many programs and activities annually. During this National Volunteer Week, we introduce you to two remarkable individuals who have found their own unique ways to give of themselves in support of others impacted by kidney disease.

“Joe and Trevor joined a number of wonderful volunteers who provided valuable insight and support at our first Virtual Patient Educational Forum,” says Lydia Lauder, The Kidney Foundation’s National Program and Public Policy director. “Thanks to our volunteers’ engagement and willingness to share their personal experiences with others, we are able to deliver dynamic and meaningful educational and peer support programs to thousands of Canadians with kidney disease from coast to coast.” 

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Trevor will never forget receiving the shocking diagnosis of polycystic kidney disease (PKD) in his late 20s that propelled him full force into a world of daunting health challenges while serving as the catalyst for his future role as a dedicated Kidney Foundation volunteer. In the ensuing years, Trevor’s goal was to stave off dialysis and when his kidney function was down to 15%, he was immediately placed on a transplant waiting list. 

In December 2014, nearly 12 years after being diagnosed with PKD, Trevor was the grateful recipient of a kidney from his stepsister. It was during this period that Trevor found support through the Foundation’s Southern Alberta Branch where he volunteered as a crew member for the annual Kidney March. 

He continues to be active with The Kidney Foundation; he and his family have participated in the Kidney March every year since his transplant, and he is a member of the event’s sponsorship committee. As a Kidney Connect volunteer, Trevor is happy to lend an ear to anyone in need. This year, he also got involved in the Virtual Educational Forum planning group. Trevor credits the Foundation for bringing people together and for the opportunity to give back to a thriving community to which he is honoured to belong.

“I am so glad to be a part of The Kidney Foundation because it changed my life,” he says. “If I can help someone by answering questions, talking about what I’ve been through, or even offering some insight, hopefully they will have an easier time, too.”
 
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Joe was an enthusiastic member of the Forum planning group. He brought forward two years of experience as a Kidney Connect volunteer and a peer support group facilitator to help with online moderation, and participated in the group sessions. He appreciates how The Kidney Foundation advocates for patients’ rights and praises its unique support services, including financial assistance for those in need.

As a young child, Joe often experienced terrible bouts of joint pain, which would see him laid up for days at a time. He was also diagnosed with a blood disorder that causes bruising. It wasn’t until his early 20s that he learned he had kidney failure stemming from systemic lupus, an autoimmune condition that had gone undetected for years.

While applying for a disability tax credit, Joe connected with his local branch of The Kidney Foundation and subsequently engaged in a long chat about peer support. He also accepted an invitation to try his hand at it.

“When I was first diagnosed with kidney disease, I didn’t think I would benefit from peer support groups because I was your typical young guy and had a stereotypical idea about what support groups were like from television and movies,” Joe confides. “Experiencing them challenged that preconceived notion, and making friends turned out to be fun.” 

Joe is currently in the testing process for a kidney transplant along with his two brothers, his prospective donors.  “Kidney disease can really take its toll and wear you down,” Joe says, “but I consider myself very blessed medically in that I’ve learned to manage the condition and have not let it stop me from having a good life, nor doing the things I enjoy most.” 

Learn more about volunteering with The Kidney Foundation of Canada.


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