Kidney ‘want ad’ on Facebook leads to donor match for Calgary woman

CALGARY – A Calgary woman who has suffered from polycystic kidney disease for 15 years posted her plea for a donor on Facebook in June, writing, “the only way I will get a kidney before I die is to find one on my own and social media will be the best way.”

She was right.

“I wrote it and I shared it to a friend, and that friend, Linda, shared it to everybody,” said Lynne Prodaniuk, who has been on the donor list since 2007 with three attempted matches, but no success.

She said she nearly died in 2000 as doctors weren’t initially sure what was wrong. At one point in her treatment, her kidney function fell to 12 per cent. She said she had a catheter put in her abdomen to start dialysis, but by 2014, the dialysis was no longer cleaning her blood well enough, and her toxicity levels increased. She said she had surgery and started hemodialysis in hospital, and has been going for eight-hour treatments since then.

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Prodaniuk said when she joined the donor list, the wait was estimated between four and six years. When she got to six years, she was told the wait time had increased to eight years. She passed her seven-year anniversary July 26.

Then, another friend’s Facebook post turned things around for Prodaniuk.

“I posted on Facebook that I needed a handyman, a window company recommendation, and a kidney,” Erin Kelly told Global News.

“Mostly I was kidding about the kidney but I put it out there anyway because my Facebook friends are awesome and I was secretly hoping someone would at least inquire.”

Kelly’s friend, Shamus Neeson, replied right away. Neeson works for Canadian Blood Services and has donated blood many times, so he was curious about the living donor process.

“It was something that I felt that I should look into, if I could help save someone’s life…it just made sense,” said Neeson. “I put a call in to the living donor program, they sent me a package of very basic screening questions on my family history and what not and then we just started going from there.”

Neeson has now gone through all required kidney and cardiovascular testing and been given the go-ahead. The two new friends are waiting for the green light from Alberta’s living donor program, and from there will schedule surgery.

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“I can’t believe that somebody would want to do that for a stranger,” Prodaniuk said of Neeson’s generosity, but he said it was “easy.”

“I was surprised at how easy this whole process has been,” he said. “I know that I’ve talked about how much medical testing you have to go through [but] it’s been so easy. I’m surprised more people don’t do it.”

READ MORE: How Albertans can become living organ donors

Prodaniuk said she’s tired of “living in a prison” and can’t wait to get her life back.

“We’re going to Australia because I have a friend in Sydney and we are going to have Christmas on the beach with a barbecue.”

If you would like more information on how to become a living donor, you can contact one of Alberta’s transplant programs.

For living kidney donor services, call the Southern Alberta Transplant Program at 403-944-4635.

For information on living kidney, liver or lung donation, call the Northern Alberta Transplant Services Living Donor Program at 780-407-8698.

With a report from Global’s Heather Yourex-West


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