A Drumheller man has shown his selflessness, changing the life of another family with the gift of his kidney.
The 36-year-old man, who wishes the Mail not to use his name, is recovering from surgery earlier this month when he donated his kidney to a family in need.
“If I could do it again, I would,” he said.
“Never be afraid to help another human being if you can.”
The donor tells the Mail initially he was impacted by the struggle of the Vogel family. James Vogel needed a kidney, and they called out to the community for a donor and to raise awareness.
He knew of Mr. Vogel and was compassionate to his struggle, and two years ago began the process to see if he could be a donor.
“At first, it was just basically seeing if I was a blood type match. Once I found out, I got hold of the Kidney Donor program in Calgary and started the whole process with them,” he said.
The program is intensive, and the donor has to go through a series of tests to gauge their health physically and mentally.
“It takes probably a good year to be eligible to be a donor, after all the testing and everything else. It was quite a process for me… they have to make sure you are 100 per cent healthy before you donate, they want to make it safe for both parties.”
During this process, he learned Mr. Vogel had received a kidney in October 2019, before he learned if he was eligible. He decided to keep with the program.
“That was amazing, that was pretty much the start of the journey for him to get a kidney, and he received one, so I just said ‘well somebody else still needs one too, might as well keep going.’”
It was not long after this that COVID happened, and things started shutting down as he was completing the last of the testing.
When surgeries began again as COVID restrictions eased up, he received a call asking if he was still willing to donate. Three weeks later, on December 9, he was in the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.
The procedure took about three hours. He is back home now recovering and will be returning to work with light duties soon.
He says there are few lasting issues as a donor.
“I just have to be smart about things. I can’t go into full contact sports, just because of the fact that I only have one kidney, so if anything does happen to it, I could be in serious trouble,” he said. “It is just really being smart and taking care of myself. I have to be cautious about sugars and stuff… and just basically be smart about things. I try to maintain a healthy diet, so nothing out of my normal.”
There is one thing he will miss.
"Unfortunately, I am a huge heavy metal fan and I do enjoy going up to the heavy festival we have every year. I am usually in the mosh pit, so, unfortunately, I have to be on the sidelines,” he laughs.
One of the most powerful things that happened to him through the process is he received three cards of thanks, from the wife and two daughters of the person who received his kidney while he was recovering in the hospital. These letters were incredibly moving.
“I’m a father of two… to be able to show my sons there are good people in the world and it is okay to help no matter how scary it can be, it is still okay to help. Being able to help somebody like that is the only recognition I need,” he said. “I did this because I think it is right… I was happy enough to help that family.”
“This has been an emotional roller coaster for two years…this is my Christmas gift. Ever since I got out of surgery, I can honestly say I have had a grin from ear to ear.”