Fundrais­ing walk planned for Oct. 23

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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.

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