Ray Fast and his daughter Bethany share a very tight father-daughter bond thanks to Bethany’s decision two years ago to donate her kidney to her father.
A few years ago, Comox Valley resident Fast found himself in a precarious situation following a blood test: his kidneys were not filtering properly and were only working at around 10 per cent.
“I was basically looking at either going on dialysis or looking at a transplant. That’s when my daughter stepped in and said ‘I’m going to get you your kidney,’ ” he explained.
Initially, he admitted he fought back about the idea because of fear he would put his daughter in danger, but after a lot of research and testing, he decided to go ahead.
But like many of the best-laid plans, the process wasn’t completely smooth.
“I went through a whole series of tests, because with a live donor, (doctors) want to make sure they are 100 per cent healthy, and that my body won’t reject the kidney,” Fast noted.
With a target surgery date of July 2016, Fast was in the midst of his last test - a stress test on a treadmill - when his doctor noticed something unusual. What he saw was not one but four blockages around his heart, which required him to have quadruple bypass surgery in Victoria.
After a quick recovery, Fast and his daughter successfully underwent surgeries in Vancouver, and now he has kidney function of 56 per cent.
He said the pair have both since become involved and have leaned on the resources of The Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Both he and Bethany have participated in the annual Kidney Walk, and plan to do so again this year. They are also involved in the taping of Plugged In - short videos for a YouTube channel created by The Kidney Foundation BC & Yukon branch all about kidney disease and those affected.
Additionally, Bethany has received training to be a counsellor through the donor mentorship program and can assist those considering becoming a donor.
According to the BC & Yukon branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada, a kidney transplant is often a kidney patient’s best hope for a better quality of life, yet almost 50 per cent of the people on the waitlist for a kidney transplant will die waiting.
The organization is hosting its annual walk Sept. 23 in 15 communities across B.C. In the Comox Valley, the 2.5 km walk is set for 10 a.m. at Simms Park; registration is at 9 a.m. and warm-up at 9:45 a.m.
For more information, visit kidneywalk.ca.