'It's a lifesaving gift': Kidney donors in demand in Quebec

Most Quebecers in need of an organ donation are waiting for kidneys.

At the end of 2016, 565 of the 841 on the organ donor waitlist needed an extra bean-shaped organ.  

Most people have two working kidneys, which are about the size of a fist. The organs filter waste from blood to make urine. 

It's harder to find an exact match for kidney donations, according to Dr Prosanto Chaudhury, a transplant surgeon with Transplant Québec. Renal disease and failure are common, but there's also a backup plan of sorts: dialysis for people whose kidneys are not working, While live donation rates in Quebec are lower than in the rest of Canada, he says it's because there is a higher rate of deceased donors in the province. 

Still, living donors maches do happen.

Sophie Post-Croteau, a 28-year-old Montrealer, is about to donate a kidney to a close friend who lives in Ottawa (in time for National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week). Her recipient has polycystic kidney disease and requires dialysis three times a week. Post-Croteau's operation will take three to four hours, and she will need bed rest for two weeks. 

"I'm just really happy that I get to save someone's life," Post-Croteau explained. "I never really had a moment where I was like, 'Should I do this or not?' It was just right away - when I heard he needed one, I took this decision."

'It's a real expression of generosity, to do that. And it's a lifesaving gift,' said Dr Chaudhury. 

But the wait for a match can be excruciatingly long if a donor is not found.

A Laval man named Ian Enkin has been waiting 12 years for a replacement.

"It's actually frustrating because it takes so long," he explained. "[You get] sicker because you're on dialysis to stay alive."

Enkin did receive a kidney a few years ago, but the transplant was a bust when it was discovered that his new organ had cancer. Enkin's body also needs a donor with matching antibodies. He is broadening his seach by trying to get on the waiting in the United States. Enkin is seeking community support for this search with a GoFundMe fundaiser

Dr Chaudhury pointed out that there is a program for paired living donors in Canada, operated by Canadian Blood Services, which pairs incompatible living donors and recipients with other pairs of people who might be compatible.