Transplant search test of emotions

Audrey Schroeder spends four hours a day, three times a week on dialysis. - Michelle Richards
Audrey Schroeder spends four hours a day, three times a week on dialysis.
— image credit: Michelle Richards

In late June, Audrey Schroeder got devastating news.

The 41-year-old woman, who had a kidney donor come forward thanks to a Facebook campaign and an appeal through the News Leader Pictorial, learned two months ago that her donor, local Paul Martin, was no longer a match. The news came after Martin went through a number of tests.

“When I found out the news I was devastated; I thought it (the transplant) would happen,” the mother of three girls said. “I felt it was my only frigging hope; it was finally going to happen.”

Her daughters she said, are taking it hard.

“My older children are dealing with the news in their own way, they don’t want to show they’re upset, it’s quite a blow to the whole family, they want their mom to be healthy.”

Martin felt almost as bad.

“I was absolutely heartbroken,” Martin said. “I’m as heartbroken as Audrey is, well probably not as much, because she’s the one who’s sick.”

After two stories ran in this paper last November about Schroeder’s plight, Martin volunteered to donate a kidney and began a series of extensive psychological and physical tests required by B.C. Transplant before the surgery was approved.

An EKG, chest X-rays, a kidney ultrasound and numerous blood tests later, things were looking promising for Schroeder, who receives dialysis three times a week.

But Martin said a CT scan of his kidneys revealed he has too many arteries supplying blood to his kidneys — he has three — which he was told makes surgery more difficult and decreases the chances of success. Schroeder said the normal number of arteries is one or two.

According to B.C. Transplant’s website:, the median waiting time in B.C. in 2012 for adults waiting for a deceased donor’s kidney ranged from 24.19 months to 99.47 years, depending on blood type. In Schroeder’s case, her blood type is B positive, the wait is 99.47 months.

Heather Johnson, director of programs with the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. branch, said donors and recipients do not have to be the same blood type to be a match, adding that if a person is medically suitable for a transplant, their wait time on the list for a cadaveric kidney starts the day they start dialysis.

In 2013, there were 67 deceased organ donors in B.C. Three hundred and eighty four people are currently waiting for a transplant from a deceased person.

There are no waits for a live transplant if the live donor passes all B.C. Transplant’s medical tests.

Since 1976, there have been 800 live kidney donations in B.C.; 1999 was the first year that the number of kidney transplants from living donors outweighed the number from cadaveric donors.

The five-year survival rate for kidney recipients from a non-related donor is 97.2%

Given the bad news, the now-chronically tired Schroeder has moved on to Plan B.

Starting Aug. 5, she’s receiving training so that she can do her own dialysis at home. The training, which she says normally takes eight weeks, will only take four in her case, because, “I’m already needling myself.”

Those wanting to receive home dialysis must live in a residence where the plumbing and electrical can be rerouted to accommodate the dialysis machine. It’s preferred, but not required, that they live with someone who can support them with home dialysis.

Until she gets another donor, the dialysis patient is pinning her hopes on home dialysis.

“They’ve told me I can benefit from more dialysis, it will allow me to be a Mom for my kids.”

Those interested in exploring donating a kidney to Schroeder can contact her at The Living Donor Expense Reimbursement Program helps donors with some of the costs related to assessment and donation, including time away from work.

The two living donor programs are in Vancouver. To learn more about becoming a living donor, call St. Paul's, at 604 806-9027 or Vancouver General at 604 875-5182.

Kidney Walk

The Kidney Foundation of Canada is holding the Cowichan Valley Kidney Walk/Run on August 10 at the Sportsplex, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The  walk is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for kidney disease, and the importance of organ donation. To register to participate, sponsor a walker, volunteer or register to be a donor, email @

High Risk Factors that Can Lead to Chronic Kidney Disease

- Diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Heart disease

- Family history of chronic kidney disease

- An Aboriginal, African, Asian or South Asian ancestral background

- Being over 50 years of age.

Things Which Maximize Kidney Function

- Stay active

- Monitor blood sugar levels

- Monitor blood pressure

- Reduce salt intake

- Don't smoke

- Refrain from taking Ibuprofen regularly

BC Kidney Fast Facts

- 1/10 British Columbians has kidney disease.

- The number of people with kidney disease has grown by 60% over the last 10 years.

- Over 3,000 people need kidney dialysis to live.

- Those on dialysis spend an average four hours per day, three days a week on a machine.


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