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Lethbridge mother and 4-year-old son talk about importance of kidney donation

Lethbridge mother and 4-year-old son talk about the importance of kidney donation
WATCH ABOVE: The Kidney Foundation of Canada's 'Kidney Walk' is slated for this weekend in Lethbridge. A tiny but tough survivor will be cutting the official ribbon, hoping to encourage others to get involved with organ donation. Quinn Campbell reports.

On May 5, Kaidyn Fortin celebrated his fourth birthday. However, not too long ago, his mom Elicia Fortin was told that day may never come.

“The doctors told us if he should require a heart transplant, we may have to make a very tough decision… Do we keep going or do we stop?” Elicia said.

It’s hard to imagine the now healthy boy had such a tough battle.

READ MORE: Doctor dressed as Chewbacca tells boy he’s getting a new heart

When Kaidyn was two-years-old, things started to spiral. His organs began to shut down and doctors prepared his family for the worst.

“I don’t even know how to explain the feeling when you are told something like that. It was intense,” she added.

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Kaidyn had contracted one of the most extreme strains of E. coli, strain 0157 H7. It transformed into a life-threatening disease known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or H.U.S.

According to the family, eventually the toddler’s heart started to gain strength but other organs continued to fail.

“We were told at that point his kidney’s weren’t going to come back. That’s when I started my screening process to become his donor,” Elicia said.

Elicia then donated one of her kidneys to her son. That experience spurred a relationship with the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

READ MORE: World Kidney Day raises awareness for kidney health

“Knowing everything that can go wrong, and how important the kidneys are,  I just want to raise awareness and hopefully more people will donate and we can find better treatments,” she said.

For many families, transplants can be a huge financial burden.

Mike Brodie with the Kidney Foundation of Canada works with families from Lethbridge and surrounding areas. He said often family’s expenses are higher due to travel and hotel stays.

“You get that call and you are going up to Calgary to get the surgery, us folks from Lethbridge and surrounding area, you have to be prepared to stay in calgary six weeks post-transplant,” Brodie said.

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The Kidney Foundation offers financial relief to families going through the process. Equipment like blood pressure machines, counselling services and research is funded through fundraising.

READ MORE: Christmas kidney: Living donor to give organ to perfect stranger she met online

Kaidyn and his mom will cut the starting ribbon at this year’s fundraising walk. The event is one of the organization’s largest annual fundraisers for the area.

It’s a moment the duo said they don’t take for granted.

“Other people can have a life again, and another chance at survival,” Elicia said.

This year’s walk is slated for Henderson Lake. The event kicks off at 10:00 a.m. and all ages are welcome.

For full details or to sign up you can click here.