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Lisa's Story

"I’m happy to say that my kidney is 24 years old!"
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was four years old.  I remember doctors saying there could be complications, but at the time I didn’t know much about the connection between diabetes and kidney disease. That connection became real to me as a teenager.  I was learning to drive and realized I couldn’t see properly out of my left eye. It turns out that it was a complication of diabetes, one of many to come.

Back then, kidney disease wasn’t in the news as much as it is now. I was basically told, you can either get a family member to donate a kidney or you can go on dialysis. My mother and sister came forward to donate a kidney and they were both matches. I received a transplant from my mother in December 1995. Unfortunately, it did not work out, so I began peritoneal dialysis. I had a second kidney transplant two years later in May 1997. Unfortunately, my pancreas transplant failed, so I am currently taking insulin for diabetes. I’m happy to say that my kidney is 24 years old!

Having both diabetes and kidney disease is a balancing act. Sometimes, the diets contradict each other. My advice is to know your bloodwork and balance what is best for you with your healthcare team.

I started volunteering with The Kidney Foundation soon after my diagnosis, and began offering one-on-one peer support. About six years ago I was approached by the Programs department to be a facilitator for a new peer support group in Toronto, and it worked out very well. Today the number of peer support groups has grown and participants from across Canada take part.

The groups do not offer medical advice. Having said that, it is incredible what you can learn from others going through similar experiences. Even for me, being a facilitator and a kidney patient for so long it is amazing what I pick up at the meetings.

My parents are very positive people and they brought me up to look at the brighter side of things. My husband is also very supportive. I believe a positive outlook has played a big role in helping me stay on track. I don’t spend much time worrying about tomorrow.  I live each day to the fullest.