Nova Scotia

Organ donor changes lives of 2 friends

Two young friends in Halifax have forged an even stronger bond after their lives were saved by the same organ donor recently.

Nova Scotia women obtained kidneys from the same donor

Donation saves friends

10 years ago
Duration 2:55
Two friends in Halifax received life changing operations recently - kidney transplants from the same donor.

Two young friends in Halifax have forged an even stronger bond after their lives were saved by the same organ donor recently.

Lisa Walsh-Kirk, 24, had been waiting for five years for a kidney donation, spending three days a week on dialysis. Finally, her pager went off and she was told to report to the hospital the next morning.

She said she could hardly believe her life-changing moment had finally arrived.

"It was shocking," she said. "It didn't really set in until I was at the hospital the next day."

But Walsh-Kirk was in for a second surprise. As she walked into the hospital, she ran into one of her best friends, who was also on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

"We pieced it together," she said. "Basically, we're the same blood type. We got our calls 10 minutes apart. We got the same donor."

The women first became friends when they were 12. Both had kidney transplants that later failed. Both were desperate for a new organ.

"It was meant to be," said Walsh-Kirk. "It was like someone was watching over us."

The friends both pulled through their operations successfully and were put in the same room for their recovery.

Rare coincidence

The twist of fate is something Denice Klavano has never seen before. Klavano is a board member for Life: Pass It On, an organization that promotes donation.

Denice Klavano says she's never heard of friends receiving donations from the same person. (CBC)

"I don't think there can be anything that's more touching, really, than what I've heard of this story with these two friends from childhood," she said. "The odds against that have got to be pretty remote."

The identity of the donor is protected by law. CBC News also cannot report when the operations occurred. But Klavano hopes this story will touch others who are uncertain about signing donor cards.

"I get shivers when I think of this," she said. "What better living legacy can there be."

Klavano said Nova Scotia's rates for donation are strong compared with most of Canada.

"But not what it could be," she said. "At any given time, there's probably about 4,000 people waiting for transplants across Canada. That's pretty sorry."

Walsh-Kirk said she's going to continue to advocate for organ donation. She hopes to one day meet the family of her donor.

"I'm sorry you lost your loved one," she said, vowing to treat her body well and keep the kidney safe. "I want to thank anyone who signs their donor cards."

Walsh-Kirk said her friend, Jessica, spent Tuesday celebrating her husband's birthday with their daughter.

As for her own plans, Walsh-Kirk is thrilled that she'll be able to get married next October. She also plans to travel.

"I get to live again."