Kidney transplant recipient urges organ donation
Dianne Lake got a second chance at life because someone ticked the box to become a donor
Next month will be Dianne Lake’s 1 year kidney-versary.
Lake has polycystic kidney disease, a condition that causes fluid-filled cystics to grow in the kidneys. It runs through her family for at least five generations. She started dialysis in 2010 and went through seven years of painful and draining treatments three times a week. After a few offers for kidneys turned out to be incompatible for her, Dianne was losing hope. Then she received the life-changing call from the transplant team. A kidney was waiting for her in Halifax. Lake described that call as, “completely overwhelming. I had mixed emotions. I cried but I was very excited, happy and grateful.”
Kidney transplant surgeries aren’t performed in St. John’s, so the transplant team booked her on the next plane to Halifax. She was quickly prepped for surgery but had to “wait hours and hours longer because there were complications in another patient’s transplant. It was cancelled twice. I was very scared. Kidneys don’t last for that long outside the body. I was afraid my new kidney was dying.”
Despite the wait, the surgery went well. Through her early recovery, Lake shared a room with a man from Goose Bay whom she referred to as “my brother through kidney.” He received the donor’s other kidney.
“His kidney jumpstarted from the get go, which really scared me,” she recalled. “I know we can’t compare, but he was up and walking the halls while I was waiting for my kidney to start working and it was scary. By day seven I was getting pretty worried, I thought it wasn’t going to take. Then a miracle happened, I peed. That proved the kidney was working. Because of the dialysis, I had not passed urine for five to six years, not a dribble. The day I peed was a wonderful day. The best day of my entire life.”
Now, 11 months later, Dianne feels much better although she still feels tired, has some pain, and has to undergo three more surgeries to deal with other health complications this year. On top of that is the mental stress the polycystic kidney disease could attack her new kidney. “I could loose this kidney again. The disease I have could attack like my two original kidneys. I could end up on dialysis again. I pray to the Lord that He won’t take this gift from me.”
What keeps Lake going is the joy of watching her two young grandsons grow up. She named her kidney Christian and Logan after them. “I live for the joy of seeing them smile. My grandkids, my husband, who has been an angel, and my son are what I fight for on a daily basis.”
Lake is looking forward to her one-year kidney-versary she is planning for May 25. She said everyone is invited. She wants to thank her friend Cynthia Faulkner who worked tirelessly to help her find a kidney match and to all the people who donated money to support her trip to Halifax and recovery.
She is reserving her biggest thank-you for the family of the man who donated his organs so that she and others have a second chance at life. Lake wants to carry his selfless generosity forward by encouraging people to check off organ donation on their MCP cards and to discuss their wishes with their families. She hopes Eastern Health will let her set up a table at the Burin Health Care Centre to engage with people on a personal level by sharing her story.
Dianne Lake went through painful and draining dialysis for years while she hoped to find a donor.