Fundraising walk planned for Oct. 23
Enter Robert’s very own personal angel, Bernice.
“She made a decision long ago that she wanted to give me a kidney,” Robert recalls. Bernice adds, “ This is what I desperately wanted to do. Our lives are one; intertwined.”
At first, she was denied the opportunity of giving her husband a kidney because she was prone to renal colic, or kidney stones. Eventually, though, her offer was accepted.
“It was a rather joyous occasion,” she says in an understatement.
On April 23, 2009, the duo underwent a medical procedure in Ottawa. Bernice surrendered a kidney, while Robert gained one.
Robert had no desire to compromise his wife’s health because of her generosity. Once he was assured there was no such danger, “on that basis only we (decided we) would go forward,” he says.
The results were immediate and far-reaching, but not just for Robert and Bernice.
“Kidney disease affects families, not just individuals,” Robert explains.
Bernice says their children, Jennifer and Stephanie, were “really impacted” by their father’s illness.
However, the kidney transplant helped them to “move on with their lives,” Robert says. “ That burden is lifted from them,” Bernice adds.
“Do I get a little tired?” Robert asks rhetorically. “ Yes, I do. I accept that. It’s not an issue for me.”
But the positives far outweigh any possible negatives. Meanwhile, he admits that “a kidney transplant is not a cure.”
The experience has turned the Lundrigans into passionate advocates of kidney donation in particular, and organ donation in general.
“ We swore to each other that if we could ever get on the other side of this, we would spend as much time as we could trying to help others,” Robert says.
He effortlessly rhymes off statistics about kidneys: “Seventy-five per cent of the organs needed in the country happen to be kidneys. The number of people on dialysis is increasing at a remarkable 10 per cent per year.”
Three thousand Canadians are waiting on a kidney transplant, with 300 in this province alone. At least 250 people in Canada die every year while waiting for a kidney.
“ It’s certainly very high and concerning and troublesome,” Robert says.
“Our cause is to simply make the public more aware of the need ( for) and value (of organ donation) and the lack of personal risk in being a living organ donor or of choosing, upon one’s death, to ensure that organs are available for donation,” he states
Give the Gift of Life Walk
The Kidney Foundation of Canada will be sponsoring the second annual Give the Gift of Life Walk from 2 to 4 p. m. on Sunday, Oct. 23 from Holy Redeemer Elementary school in Spaniard’s Bay. The event is intended to reach the Baccalieu Trail, the area served by the Carbonear General Hospital dialysis unit. Entertainment will be provided by Greeley’s Reel.
Money raised from the walk will go to kidney research and organ donor awareness, as well as support for people with chronic kidney disease.
For further information, contact Bernice ( 683-2299) or Robert ( 6832898).
Robert reminds the public that, while many people have signed organ donor cards, their wishes may never materialize, since a deceased person’s family will make the final decision. People should also know that a live organ donation can be made by a person with no long-term negative health concerns for him or her.
“ I can’t think of any good reason why someone shouldn’t consider being a (living) organ donor, and certainly upon his or her death to have your organs donated,” he says.
On April 23, 2009, Bernice Lundrigan of Spaniard’s Bay donated one of her kidneys to her husband, Robert.