Ottawa mom turns to social media to find kidney donor for son

An Ottawa mother hopes to increase her son's chances for a donor with a Facebook page called "Kidney for Dawson," as the Canadian Institute for Health Information releases new numbers on organ transplant wait lists.

New statistics suggest dozens die waiting for a kidney transplant in Canada each year.

Dawson Corbett who has been waiting four years for a kidney donor -- He and his mom Bettina Iraci told their story for CBC "Ontario Today." (CBC)

After watching her son wait four years for a kidney donation, Bettina Iraci has launched a Facebook page called "Kidney for Dawson" in the hopes of increasing his chances for a donor. 

"I just got tired of waiting," Iraci said.

So far, she said the family has received some interest as a result of the Facebook page, including a couple of potential donors now being tested to see whether they would make a good match for Dawson Corbett's blood type. 

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released a new report suggesting while organ donations have been increasing, it has not caught up with the need. Using 2014 statistics, CIHI found there were 3,377 people waiting for a kidney transplant in Canada that year and that 67 people died before receiving a donation. 

Dawson was born with kidney disease and received a transplant from his mother at age four. But by the time he turned 12, the kidney began to fail.

Dawson, who just turned 16 this week, has now reached end-stage kidney disease.

2 years on dialysis

For the past two years, Dawson has been hooked up each night to a dialysis machine.

"That's what's helping him survive right now," Iraci said in an interview this week on CBC Radio's Ontario Today.

"We named him," said Dawson, referring to the dialysis machine.

"We call him Fred," said his mother. 

"Fred the flusher," Dawson added.

Dialysis involves getting hooked up to "Fred" through a catheter in Dawson's abdomen each night beginning at 7 p.m. for 10 hours.

I am at the point of being anxious now; his condition is deteriorating.- Bettina Iraci, Dawson's mom

"It was very difficult adapting to what my life was going to be," said Dawson, adding that he used to be more independent and able to hang out with his friends more often. 

He said he's has had to learn to adapt, but that the four years on a list for a kidney transplant is taking a toll. 

"It's tough waiting," explained Dawson. "My mom would say there's a match coming, and we hope we get picked," he said but so far each lead has led to disappointment. "And then we just keep on waiting."

'Don't lose hope'

Iraci said that "time is precious" as her son, who looks like any other teen, is actually very sick.

"I am at the point of being anxious now; his condition is deteriorating," she said.

"I've been tempted to put a sign in my car, because some people have been successful with that," added Iraci. 

Dawson is on a number of waiting lists, including the deceased donor list, the live donor list, as well as the "highly sensitized patient list," since his body has developed certain anti-bodies as a result of the first transplant that make finding a donor more challenging. 

His mother said she has learned a lot about patience from her son, who gives this advice to others waiting for a kidney transplant:

"Just stay positive, and don't lose hope."