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Geraldine's Story

What I’ve seen through my work and seeing my friend struggle, I felt fortunate and able to donate.
In 2018, I joined the staff at the Manitoba Branch of the Kidney Foundation as the Manager of Programs and Prevention. After spending most of my 25-year nursing career with kidney failure patients, this seemed like a great next step for me.

I have seen the complications and difficult life that patients on dialysis lead – endless time spent dialyzing and going to and from appointments. I decided to be part of the solution, on October 1st I donated a kidney to a friend of mine who has been on home hemodialysis for over a year in a rural Manitoba community.

What I’ve seen through my work and seeing my friend struggle, I felt fortunate and able to donate. I’ve led a healthy lifestyle, taken good care of myself, I exercise, and eat well. At this time in my life, it was something I could do.

A lengthy testing period began in April 2019, I contacted Transplant Manitoba to determine if I could proceed with testing to see if I was a match for my friend.  Not being blood relatives, the odds were against us to be a match, but in fall of 2019 we defied the odds!

Once I found out I was a match, my husband Keith and I drove three hours to visit my friend, and future recipient, under the guise of a social visit and to look at his home hemodialysis equipment. Towards the end of our visit, I asked my friend if they had heard from Transplant Manitoba recently. They knew that they had a match for a kidney but were blown away when they found out I was the donor. We all excitedly hugged then said our teary goodbyes. 

My friend and I carried on with additional testing with our individual coordinators through the fall and early winter of 2020. Everything was on course for an early summer surgery until Covid-19 abruptly put things to a halt. 

During the closure of elective surgeries, we stayed in contact with our coordinators. With the last round of routine testing completed, we had one final test before surgery could proceed, a Covid-19 nasal swab test. Although uncomfortable, it was the last step before surgery, we were both filled with anxiety and anticipation awaiting our Covid-19 test results. 

Thankfully, both tests came back negative and surgery could proceed as planned. 
The surgery was a roaring success for both of us! 

My family has been very supportive of my recovery, my husband has been catering to every whim. I've also received messages of support on social media from family and friends far and wide. 

I thought about it for a long time and I was in the best position to donate. I did a lot of research and because of my experience as a nurse, I knew what to expect medically and through recovery. For anyone considering being a living donor, my advice to you is to do your homework be prepared that it is a lengthy – but rewarding – process. This has been a great experience, and I’d donate another kidney if I could.

More information on becoming a living organ donor