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Dr. Dossetor’s Story

The outlook for kidney failure has changed from hopeless to hopeful.
It’s been 55 years since that first kidney transplant. The first donor, Nola Johnson, who gave a kidney to her identical twin sister Moira at age 15, lives in Ottawa and is in good health. When the transplant was arranged, we had no idea how long someone could live on one kidney. All we knew was that the skin graft between the two of them wasn’t rejected. Drugs to suppress the immune system to prevent tissue rejection of the kidney came later.

It’s fitting that the first meeting of the Kidney Foundation took place in the Johnson home in 1964.

Together with Dr. Guy Lemieux from the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, I had the privilege to be part of setting up The Kidney Foundation while I was at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. We felt we needed proper funding for kidney research to better understand the causes of kidney failure. In the first few years, we raised $3,000. It’s been around 4 million dollars a year raised for research for quite some time now. This is what gives me hope and inspiration.

If you’re worried about the future, just look back on the last 50 years. There’s been great progress. And what do we expect in the future? Well I don’t know, but why should it stop? I think there will be more prevention, more knowledge about what predisposes people to kidney disease, and the progress of kidney disease will be slowed. People are dedicated to improving things.