Right now, there are more than 19,000 aboriginal people in British Columbia with chronic kidney disease, and well over 100 in need of a kidney transplant. Many will die waiting.
“Every community in B.C. shares a similar story of needing more kidneys than there are available for transplant,” said Karen Philp, executive director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. Branch.
“The research shows 95 per cent of British Columbians support the idea of donating a kidney to someone in need, but only 19 per cent are actually registered on B.C.’s organ donor registry. We want to change this story and invite the public to join the conversation.”
Philp said that when it comes to B.C.’s aboriginal population, the percentage (of registered donors) is even lower.
“We want to find out what some of the barriers are, when it comes to kidney donation in those communities,” she said.
The Courtenay Community Conversation will be held on Thursday Nov. 13 at 2 p.m., at the K’omoks Band Hall on Comox Road. Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts and experiences, as well as hear from special guest speakers and health care experts about the impact of kidney disease in the community.
Liz Hanuse and her son Victor, who received a kidney transplant from his mom in 2009, are the hosts of the Community Conversation in Courtenay.
“My son would not be here today if he didn’t have both his kidneys taken out and mine put in,” said Liz.
“By deciding to donate his kidneys for research my son was able to help the kidney disease research cause. My hope for the future is that all Nations see that each of us can make the difference in someone else’s life. Giving the gift of life and knowing that someone will have another chance is so important. I believe in paying it forward.”
Throughout the province, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. Branch, is hosting 12 Community Conversations, including this one in Courtenay, to ask people to help identify the barriers that stop people from registering as organ donors as well as the solutions to increase the number of people receiving a kidney transplant in their community.
The Kidney Foundation is committed to increasing kidney transplant rates by 50 per cent over the next five years.
This conversation is the first step towards this goal.
Members of the public can learn more and register by calling 604-736-9775 or visiting the Foundation’s website at www.kidney.bc.ca.