New Brunswick

Daughter donates extraordinary gift for Father's Day: A kidney

On top of working part time, running half-marathons and raising four kids with her husband in Sackville, Lindsay Murray is adding "be a living organ donor" to her list of things to do.

'That’s another 10 to 15 years that he gets to be my dad, and he gets to be Poppa to the 6 grandkids'

Lindsay Murray is giving her dad, John White, a new kidney. She's been going through tests for about a year to make sure she's a good match. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

On top of working part time, running half-marathons and raising four kids with her husband in Sackville, Lindsay Murray is adding "be a living organ donor" to her list of things to do.

Murray's father, John White, is 65 and his kidneys are declining. He was told about three years ago that he could expect to live another six or seven years unless he received a transplant.

"No matter what I did, taking the medication, staying off salt, controlling my liquid intake, I couldn't stop it, it just slowly declined," White says.

His daughter, immediately stepped up to the plate, offering one of her own kidneys.

Murray has taken a barrage of medical tests, including CT scans, but she also has to meet with a psychologist and a social worker, who want to make sure she's fit mentally to make the decision. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

"I had no second thoughts about," Murray says.

"The ability to offer him another 10 to 15 years, that's another 10 to 15 years that he gets to be my dad, and he gets to be Poppa to the six grandkids, and he gets to be husband to his wife. And it just means more adventures … if I can offer that to someone, why wouldn't I?"

Offering a 2nd chance

Living with kidney disease leaves White with less energy and susceptible to colds and infections. He does peritoneal dialysis four or five times a day in his home. Each session takes about half an hour.

Murray went through a barrage of tests to make sure she is a match and continues to go for more to ensure the procedure won't negatively affect her life now or in the years to come.

White and Murray look at the kidney donation as another family adventure. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

The list of tests is long: CT scans, an electrocardiogram, X-rays, glucose tests, 24-hour urine collection, a day wearing  a blood pressure cuff.

Murray will also meet with a psychologist and a social worker to make sure she's mentally fit to make the decision. Her transplant nurse checks in regularly and at each visit asks Murray if she's doing the procedure because of family pressure or guilt. 

No she isn't, she says. 

Murray has passed all the tests so far and says donating a kidney feels like the right thing to do.

She is a frequent blood donor and used to donate platelets when she lived in Toronto.

"We … lived down the street from the children's hospital so I knew that's where the platelets were going and being the universal donor they are always in constant need of O-negative blood."

White, who does peritoneal dialysis four or five times a day, was told a few years ago that kidney disease would shorten his life if he didn't get a transplant. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

White and Murray laugh easily at each other's jokes, travel together and say they both talk in movie lines. The father daughter-team say they look at the kidney donation as another family adventure.

Murray says she would have been disappointed if her kidney wasn't a good fit.

A good match

"I was pretty confident we'd be a good match but there was this moment that I thought, wait, maybe we're not going to be a good match, so that was my big moment, finding out we were a good match. That felt really great."    

Her father became emotional talking about the present his daughter is choosing to give.

"The concept, the karmic beauty of giving a child life and her handing it back to you someday is pretty interesting, and I'm deeply grateful and moved she would do that.

White envisions how his life will be after the transplant.

"I'm hoping to have more energy, hoping to live longer, there are a lot of things still want to do."

Lindsay Murray, who lives in Sackville, commends the transplant team at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont hospital for scheduling as many tests as possible at one time, cutting down on her trips to Moncton. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

But he also wants to talk about this experience, to show the importance of organ donation.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada says there are 261 people in Atlantic Canada waiting for a kidney transplant, 75 of whom are in New Brunswick. 

Tom Meade, president of the Atlantic branch, says that since 2007, the number of people with kidney disease has grown by 36 per cent, largely because of an increase in diabetes and high blood pressure.

People who want to donate their organs after death can sign their organ donor cards when they apply for or renew their medicare cards.

The next step

But an important step is to inform the family, Meade says.

"It's important that your family understand that you wish to do that because your family at the time of death has the last say."

People wishing to be live donors should consult their family doctor, who should refer them to an organ donor co-ordinator at the Saint John Regional Hospital or the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital in Moncton.

In Canada, living donors are not allowed to be paid for their organs. But John White says the gift he's being given by his daughter is worth far more than money.

"It's an enormous gift of life."

Lindsay Murray wants to run one more half-marathon before being admitted for the operation. The pair expect the date will be set in late October.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tori Weldon

Reporter

Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.

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