Reema Garcha (left) donated a kidney to her sister Binn Johal last year. Submitted photo

‘Don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney’: B.C. women share transplant journey

Langley’s Reema Garcha donated her kidney to her sister Binn Johal in 2018

According to BC Transplant, 502 lives were saved in 2018 by organ donation, and this February marks the one-year anniversary of a life-saving kidney donation that came from Langley.

Last year, Willoughby’s Reema Garcha underwent a live kidney transplant to donate the organ to her older sister Binn Johal who lives in North Delta.

Ten years ago, when she was 36, Johal was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Vasculitus. Over time, the condition worsened and eventually Johal developed kidney disease.

And then in 2017, Johal’s doctor suggested she begin searching for a kidney donor.

“I always knew I was going to need a kidney, I just didn’t know when. And she [Garcha] always used to say to me ‘don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney,’” explained Johal.

READ MORE: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

After Johal’s family underwent a thorough testing process, it was revealed that Garcha was the only match.

“I was so excited. It was like living a life with purpose – to be able to know you can save your sister’s life. I didn’t feel scared at all to be honest, and I’ve got two young children as well. It was all about doing the right thing and being so thankful that I was a match,” said Garcha.

The two women went for surgery on Feb. 26, 2018, at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, and both agreed it was an “amazing” experience with attentive staff.

They are both in good health now, and Johal added, “I feel so much better, [have] way more energy, and I can eat food I couldn’t eat before.”

Garcha said she feels no different with one less kidney, and is “functioning perfectly.”

“I’d never know the difference,” she added.

Before moving to the Lower Mainland in their late teens, Garcha and Johal grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

Garcha, who is five years younger than Johal, said the age gap meant they “wern’t super close growing up,” but over time and into adulthood, the sisters developed “a very powerful bond.”

“Now knowing I was able to do this for her, and there’s been no indication of rejection, it’s a great feeling. If I had another kidney to donate, even to a random stranger, I would,” added Garcha.

According to Garcha, Johal’s kidney is the second transplant in their family, as years ago, a cousin received a heart transplant.

“We’re very appreciative of the whole donation side of things” Garcha said.

“I don’t want to be buried with any organ in my life. The purpose once I’m passed is to give life to others.”

Johal said her and Garcha are going to volunteer with The Kidney Foundation to “raise awareness and give back to the community.”

“I’m fortunate enough to get a kidney. A lot of people are not. To be on dialysis is not a good thing, some people don’t make it waiting and the quality of life is just deteriorating as you’re waiting,” explained Johal.

The 502 lives saved by organ donation in B.C. this year set a new record for total number of transplants in a calendar year.

“I’m proud to celebrate the selfless act of donation from so many British Columbians,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This record number of transplants is a testament to the spirit of our residents, who gave the greatest gift of all last year—the chance at a new life for others.”

In addition to an overall organ record, a kidney transplant milestone was also reached in 2018 with 339 transplants, including 100 living donors like Garcha.

For more information on organ donation in B.C., visit Transplant BC’s website.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack school enrolment continues to rise, but almost 1,000 students at home

Many elementary students will be learning from home in a transition program offered by district

Last day of summer should be pleasant across the Fraser Valley

With fresh air, some sunshine in the forecast nothing to complain about as fall arrives tomorrow

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Abbotsford parents upset as district gets cohort exemption to maximize class sizes at elementary school

Classes and cohorts shuffled after division eliminated at King Traditional elementary school

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Most Read