Kidney donor found for local man after three year search
A Drumheller family who has been searching for a kidney donor for years is “in shock” after finding out this week an anonymous Calgary woman is stepping up to donate one of hers. The Vogel family got a call from the woman Thursday at noon saying she was a match and willing to donate one of her kidneys to James Vogel, whose diabetes had caused his kidneys to start to fail over three years ago. His wife Tanya says the woman had already gone through testing to donate to a different recipient, when it was found they were not a match. The Calgary woman was camping in Drumheller recently when she saw the family’s billboard on Highway 9 asking for a type A+ donor.
“It was kind of meant to be,” says Tanya. “She said she creeped my Facebook and she kind of laughed about it a little, and then she was like ‘yeah, I’m going to do this for you and the kids.’ She knows our story and we know her story, and now we’re just waiting for the day to come.”
James began suffering complications from diabetes over three years ago, when he started developing vision problems and required eye injections and other treatments in Calgary. Tanya, James and their two pre-teen kids, spent many hours travelling back and forth to the city for doctors, appointments and treatments. James was put on an organ donor list, but with a wait time of about five years, the family decided to get proactive in their search for a type A+ donor.
The search started three years ago when the family printed bumper stickers, which slowly evolved into a board at the hockey rink, advertisement on Hi-way 9 transport trailers, adverts at the theatre, and then the billboard that brought them to a donor -- all of which was sponsored or donated by members of the community.
“The community played a major part in this. It’s been amazing to see a small town come together. My phone has been ringing constantly.”
Surgery for James and the donor is scheduled for October 16, and James will have a long recovery time afterward.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s not done -- we have a long road ahead of us,” Tanya says.
The family wishes to thank the community for supporting them in their search.
The Vogel family and the billboard that ultimately led to them finding a donor for James.