Charlie Fox is a politician, elected by the people of Langley Township to guide the direction of the municipality and administer tax dollars fairly. As a politician, he wields enormous power.
Todd Hauptman is a political activist who keeps people like Fox on their toes.
But politics is not the only thing they have in common, and it would be a mistake to believe that they are political adversaries. What links them on a supremely personal level is this: Both are alive because of the unselfish act of another.
Fox and Hauptman underwent kidney transplants within 15 months of each other. Fox received his from his wife, Diane, and Hauptman from Tanya Tait, the executive assistant to MP Mark Warawa.
In January, 2009, Fox received a kidney from his wife, Diane, a counsellor at R.E. Mountain Secondary.
On March 31, 2010, one of Tait’s kidneys was removed and placed next to Hauptman’s non-functioning kidneys.
As the questions about the unknown swirled in their heads, the four did not have the benefit of a support group. Knowing what they know now, they want to offer their support through the establishment of a Fraser Valley support network for people facing transplants, potential donors, and their families.
At 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, Tait, Hauptman and the Foxes are convening a gathering in the Yorkson Room on the fourth floor of Township Hall, 20338 65 Ave. There, people can share stories and speak of their needs, and find out what resources are available.
While building awareness of organ donations is part of the event, the thrust will be to establish a support network.
In an interview, Hauptman recalled how much it meant to him, his mother and stepfather to meet with Charlie and Diane Fox before his March 31, 2010 operation. Hauptman’s parents had questions about what they should anticipate with their son’s operation and recovery.
“We hadn’t done this before, so we didn’t know what was normal,” Hauptman said.
“This (meeting) is really about support and encouragement,” he said.
Hauptman was four when his parents learned he had Alport’s syndrome, a rare disease which affects one in 50,000 people. An inherited condition, Alport’s typically appears during childhood and is more prevalent and serious among boys. It can lead to end-stage renal disease and deafness.
Hauptman was on dialysis for nine hours every day for almost three years.
Tait’s kidney gave him a second chance at life.
Charlie Fox got this opportunity from his wife.
Fox inherited the kidney disease that killed his mother at the age of 66. As he approached his transplant surgery in January, 2009, his organs were functioning at 10 per cent of capacity.
“They were falling at a fairly consistent rate,” Fox recalled.
In the weeks leading up to the transplant, he was filled with mixed emotions. The prevailing thought, however, was this: “How will this positively affect our life together and allow us to do some of the things we wanted to do in retirement?”
“My mother never had that opportunity.”
He said that his wife and Tait “are amazing,” adding that “you’d never know they are any different” living with only one kidney.
That his wife was a perfect match for the transplant eliminated the need for dialysis for Charlie.
“For me, that was the best case scenario,” Diane said.
“I thought that I was in totally capable hands from the start, and I felt that this was the right thing to do. I never thought otherwise,” she said.
It is said that a transplant operation is harder on the donor than the recipient, but Diane more or less sailed through a three-month recovery,
“The real bonus,” she said, “is that we spend quality time together in our retirement.”
Her experience proved invaluable to Tait.
Diane’s willingness to be frank about her experience was extremely beneficial, Tait said.
It is only through her network of friends that she found out about the Foxes’ situation and, Tait added, the new group would ensure that potential organ donors and recipients receive the support and information they need.
“This is their chance to connect, one on one, and that really helps.”
For information, call Charlie Fox at 604-533-3352, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.