The ul­ti­mate gift

Port aux Basques man re­ceives a new kid­ney thanks to or­gan do­na­tion pro­gram

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL - BY DANETTE DOOLEY SPE­CIAL TO SALTWIRE NET­WORK PORT AUX BASQUES, NL [email protected]

An un­ex­pected call in the wee hours of the morn­ing on May 23 changed Andy Porter’s life for­ever – or in the man’s own words “gave me back to my fam­ily.”

The call, which he re­ceived about 5:30 a.m., was from the prov­ince’s or­gan trans­plant co­or­di­na­tor.

“She said, ‘We got an air am­bu­lance com­ing from St. John’s and land­ing in Stephenvil­le in roughly an hour and a half.’ She said, ‘They’re com­ing to get you to take you to your new kid­ney,’” the 31-year-old re­mem­bers.

The news left him speech­less. “I couldn’t even speak to Tammy (Porter’s wife). I started slap­ping her on the arm. She woke up and saw me there with tears run­ning down my face. She knew right then and there what the phone call was all about. I didn’t even have to tell her,” Porter said.

Within hours, Porter was at the Vic­to­ria Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Hal­i­fax. Later that evening he had a kid­ney trans­plant.

“I went into surgery about 7:30 (p.m.). At about 12:30 (a.m.) I started ask­ing for my cell phone. They told me it was out in my room be­cause I was in re­cov­ery. I told them I needed to call my wife to tell her I was okay. Just as soon as I said that, she burst into the room and said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m here.’”

Ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s Healthy Cana­di­ans web­site (www. healthy­cana­di­ans.gc.ca) in 2014, over 4500 Cana­di­ans were wait­ing for or­gan trans­plants. Over 2,350 organs were trans­planted in 2014. Sadly, 278 peo­ple died while wait­ing for their trans­plant.

One or­gan donor can save up to eight lives and help im­prove the life of more than 75 peo­ple.

Porter had been on the trans­plant list for less than a year.

“Be­fore, you’d need a winch and a rope to haul me out of bed. Now, I’m up most morn­ings at seven o’clock. If I can stay in bed un­til 8:30 it’s a mir­a­cle.”

Andy Porter

The young fa­ther had no inkling his kid­neys weren’t func­tion­ing prop­erly un­til el­e­vated cre­a­ti­nine lev­els (which sig­nify im­paired kid­ney func­tion or kid­ney dis­ease) were de­tected in rou­tine blood tests in 2012.

Af­ter fur­ther fol­low-up, he was di­ag­nosed with a rare dis­ease in which the im­mune sys­tem at­tacks the kid­neys.

“I was dumb­founded when the doc­tor was telling me. I couldn’t be­lieve he was talk­ing about me,” Porter re­called.

Porter was fol­lowed closely over the years with his cre­a­ti­nine lev­els con­tin­u­ing to in­crease.

By 2016 his lev­els were still in­creas­ing, yet he con­tin­ued to feel well – un­til a bad flu took him off his feet.

“I was in bed for close to 12 days. Tammy thought I was done. I was grey. It was hor­ri­ble.”

Porter started dial­y­sis in May 2016. Ini­tially he had to travel over 200 kilo­me­tres (and over two hours) from his home in Port aux Basques to the hos­pi­tal in Cor­ner Brook to re­ceive his dial­y­sis.

“It was ic­ing on top of the cake when they set me up to get it at Port aux Basques,” he said.

Porter and Tammy have a six-year-old son, Nathan, and a four-year-old daugh­ter, Anna.

His par­ents Jeff and Daphne Porter also live in Port aux Basques.

Porter said he is grate­ful to fam­ily mem­bers for tak­ing care of his chil­dren while he and his wife were in Hal­i­fax and to his em­ployer and co-work­ers at Macken­zie Am­bu­lance Ser­vice and his wife’s em­ployer and co-work­ers at Ho­tel Port aux Basques for fundrais­ing on his fam­ily’s be­half.

He is also grate­ful to his wife’s cousin Crys­tal Ingram and her hus­band Kevin of Eastern Pas­sage who showed them much kind­ness dur­ing their stay in Nova Scotia.

“They threw a beau­ti­ful cel­e­bra­tion for me when I got out of hos­pi­tal. We had a bar­be­cue and mu­sic. It was so nice of them,” he said.

Porter said his life has changed dra­mat­i­cally since he re­ceived his new kid­ney.

His en­ergy level is bet­ter than it’s been in a long time, he said.

“Be­fore, you’d need a winch and a rope to haul me out of bed. Now, I’m up most morn­ings at seven o’clock. If I can stay in bed un­til 8:30 it’s a mir­a­cle.”

Porter has his med­i­cal clear­ance to re­turn to work in Au­gust.

“And I can’t wait to get back,” he said. He hopes the fam­ily of the in­di­vid­ual who do­nated the kid­ney re­al­izes just what the trans­plant means to him and how grate­ful he is for the life-sav­ing gift.

“Just to be able to say thank-you. They gave me back to my fam­ily. And it’s been won­der­ful ever since.”

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on or­gan do­na­tion, call the Or­gan Pro­cure­ment and Ex­change of New­found­land and Labrador at 777-6600 or toll free at 1-877-6401110. In­for­ma­tion can also be found at www.east­ern­health.ca.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Andy and Tammy Porter at the Vic­to­ria Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing Andy’s trans­plant.

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