Missy Gollan will take part in her first kidney walk this coming weekend.
The 2013 Kidney Walk for the Kidney Foundation of Canada, when it happens Sunday (Aug. 18) at Maffeo Sutton Park, will hold special significance for Gollan, 44, who underwent a kidney transplant operation to receive a kidney donated by her mother.
“I’ve been challenged by kidney disease for many years,” said Gollan, who received the kidney in April 2006.
Few treatments available for kidney disease other than dialysis, which requires regular visits to a kidney dialysis unit to clear toxins from the blood.
Because damage to kidneys caused by various causes of kidney disease is rarely reversible, a kidney transplant operation is currently the best form of long-term treatment.
Since her mother was the donor, Gollan said she did not have to wait that long for a transplant operation, but many patients wait years for a donor while some will die waiting for a transplant.
There is no cure for kidney disease. It’s undetectable in its early stages. It has increased by about 60 per cent in the past 10 years and now affects about one in 10 Canadians. More than 250,000 British Columbians have chronic kidney disease and many spend up to 20 hours per week on dialysis just to stay alive.
There are currently about 380 people in B.C. on the kidney transplant waitlist.
Numerous factors and causes contribute to kidney disease including high blood pressure and diabetes. The cause of Gollan’s kidney disease is unknown, but whatever it is is now affecting the kidney she received from her mother.
“Right now I’m working hard to get longevity out of the transplanted organ,” Gollan said.
Gollan said she has not taken part in previous kidney walks because she was away or had other commitments that had to be met. This year she is able to make to the commitment to the walk. She has the time, energy and is passionate about raising awareness about kidney disease and the need to get more people to sign up as organ donors.
“Ninety per cent of people agree with organ transplants,” Gollan said. “But only 13 per cent actually sign up to become organ donors.”
Annual Kidney Walks raise funds for critical services and programs for kidney disease patients and help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.
This year’s event in Nanaimo includes a 2.5-kilometre walk and five km fun run from Maffeo Sutton Park and back along the waterfront, plus a dragon boat paddle paralleling the walk/run course.
Registration starts at 9 a.m. with a walk start time of 10 a.m.
About 60 people took part who raised about $15,000 in last year’s event.
“It’s kind of a movement for the Kidney Foundation to raise awareness and get people talking openly about organ donation,” Gollan said.
For more information about the Kidney Walk and the Kidney Foundation of Canada in B.C., please visit the foundation website at www.kidney.ca.