As a young girl, Megan Owen-Evans felt compelled by the plight of people suffering kidney failure. She’d watched a friend in elementary school undergo dialysis for a number of years, feeling helpless as his health declined.
Her concern only grew, and in 2012 the Port Moody woman contacted B.C. Transplant in the hope she could make a real and lasting difference to someone’s life.
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Megan, who’s now 45, partook in a deed so selfless that many people wouldn’t even contemplate it – she donated one of her kidneys to a complete stranger.
“People are dying waiting for a kidney. While I always felt like I’d donate a kidney if a loved one needed one, I didn’t know I could donate anonymously. And so once I knew that, I felt compelled to do something about it,” said Megan.
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Thursday marked World Kidney Day 2018, and kidneys are the most in-demand of all organs needed in British Columbia.
As of March 2, there were 657 people waiting for transplants in B.C., and 527 of those needed a kidney. In 2017, there were 95 living donors in B.C., five of them were altruistic.
This year, there have been 19 living people who’ve donated an organ to help save someone’s life. The number of people who did it altruistically is unknown.
For years following the successful surgery, Megan and her recipient exchanged letters anonymously through the donor program at Vancouver’s St Paul’s hospital.
In January this year the pair agreed to meet.
“It was really validating to know that the person is a healthy individual and living their life like they should be, and they’re benefiting from my kidney. That’s all I could have hoped for, it warmed my heart to see.” said Megan.
In 2011, a 44-year-old Californian man donated a kidney to a stranger, triggering the longest chain of kidney transplants ever.
Rick Ruzzamenti gave up his kidney to a person who was dying, expecting nothing in return. The recipient’s loved ones were spurred on to do the same, after learning they couldn’t donate to the person close to them because of incompatible blood type or antibodies.
It triggered a chain reaction across the United States, with 30 other kidneys finding new bodies as a result of Ruzzamenti’s initial donation, allowing sick people to live a collective 270 to 300 years longer.
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