Sisters work to heighten kidney support

A personal journey prompts sisters to start Chilliwack chapter of the Kidney Foundation.

After Elizabeth Daley (left) received a kidney from her sister Margaret Reveley

After Elizabeth Daley (left) received a kidney from her sister Margaret Reveley

Sisters Elizabeth Daley and Margaret Reveley are closer than most.

When Elizabeth went into renal failure, Margaret went under the knife to donate the kidney that Elizabeth needed to live.

Back in 2010, Elizabeth left her routine physical feeling great. It wasn’t until her doctor called that she felt uneasy. Elizabeth’s blood work determined that her kidney function had decreased significantly.

Choosing not to dwell on it, she carried on with her life.

“All through this illness, I pretty much kept it to myself,” she said. “I’ve always hated to admit to frailties.”

But upon arrival to work in August of 2014, extreme fatigue meant that she couldn’t even stand up.

Anyone who’s kidney function is below 15 per cent should be on dialysis. When Elizabeth went into the doctor that day, her kidneys were functioning at only four per cent. She had reached stage five renal failure.

She had always dreaded the day when she would start dialysis, but there was no other choice.

Within a few days, she had a catheter inserted into her abdomen and she was trained to administer nightly peritoneal dialysis at home.

“I’ve always been a believer that human beings can adapt to anything,” she said. “So I said, ‘This is the way it’s going to be – deal with it.'”

But dialysis affected Elizabeth in many ways.

“You’re on the fringes, physically and mentally,” she said. “You’re kind of in a fog.”

And while being hooked up to a machine was emotionally challenging, she was grateful that the technology existed.

Margaret always knew that, when the time came, she wanted to donate a kidney to her sister.

Since Elizabeth started dialysis, Margaret took a few weeks to really think about her decision. But following every trepidation, she would return to the same thought, “How could I not?”

Her greatest fear was that she wouldn’t be a match, and what a let down that would be. However, after 10 months of rigorous tests and scans, Margaret got the call she and her sister had been waiting for.

“My last dialysis was September 20, 2015,” Elizabeth said proudly. On September 21, her sister’s kidney was transplanted into her body.

Elizabeth said that it’s hard to describe how much better she feels since the transplant.

“Dialysis keeps you alive… a transplant lets you live.”

“I’m myself again now.”

And Margaret feels healthy as ever. “Our bodies are so overbuilt. You can function on one good kidney forever,” she said.

Ten months of testing was a tedious process, but Margaret was amazed to see the bigger picture.

“It’s really quite remarkable that they can do this,” she enthused. “A little part of your body can make somebody better, it’s crazy! And it’s extremely rewarding.”

Donating a kidney to her sister wasn’t a sacrifice. It was a privilege.

One that they want to share.

Elizabeth and Margaret have started a Chilliwack chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Through the chapter, members will provide peer support, education and awareness of kidney disease, and encourage organ donation.

According to B.C. Transplant, 95 per cent of British Columbians support the idea of donating a kidney to someone in need.

Fifty-one per cent reported that they were a registered organ donor. Yet only 19 per cent are actually registered on B.C.’s official organ donation registry.

To check if you are already a donor, or to register to become a donor visit transplant.bc.ca.

As they grow with members and volunteers, the Chilliwack chapter will be holding regular meetings, participating in health and wellness events, and they hope to have fundraising walk in March, National Kidney Month.

During a wellness fair on November 24, Margaret and Elizabeth met many people in the community who are or know someone who is going through kidney disease. The chapter will provide those people with support.

To learn more about the Chilliwack chapter or to join, contact Margaret at 604-793-7779 or at bmr856@telus.net.