Langley woman hopes for donor after sudden kidney failure

Shelagh Brennan went from skydiving to dialysis appointments last year

In just a few months last year, Langley’s Shelagh Brennan went from planning new trips and adventures to scheduling endless rounds of dialysis, after both her kidneys abruptly failed.

“I went skydiving for my 65th birthday,” Brennan said. “Just feeling great.”

She was busy with plans to tick items off her travel bucket list with husband Bryan Frazer, and was a Blockwatch captain and was taking part in the Adopt A Street program for her Murrayville neighbourhood.

That was in the summer of 2019, not long after a routine checkup with her doctor had shown a slight reduction in kidney function.

Brennan also visited Ireland with her brother Kevin in September, meeting some relatives there for the first time. She and her husband Bryan were planning for a winter cruise.

But by the end of the year, she wasn’t feeling great, feeling difficulty concentrating and with memory issues.

She was referred to a nephrologist and had a biopsy and ultrasound. On Nov. 4 she was told things were not looking good.

“He said both your kidneys are not working, and we have no known reason why,” said Brennan.

On Dec. 17, after some bloodwork, her doctor ordered her to head straight to the hospital.

“I was started on dialysis right away.”

Her kidneys had ceased to function.

Brennan spent the next week in Surrey Memorial, only released on Christmas Day after she had a subclavian catheter installed in her chest for future dialysis.

Since then, Brennan’s life has revolved around two things – getting to her dialysis appointments, which take place two to three times a week, and getting ready for a hoped-for kidney transplant.

Brennan’s brother Kevin has already volunteered to be a donor for his older sister, but it isn’t known yet if he’s a compatible donor.

So Brennan took a chance on social media. She posted on the Murrayville and Brookswood community Facebook pages.

“I am asking for potential kidney donors with the hopes that someone may consider coming forward to be tested as a possible match,” she wrote. “There is NO pressure for anyone to be tested! Donors do not have to be a relative or even exact blood type to donate.”

The response has been very positive, she said.

Because people can live with just one kidney, it is one of the few organs for which living donor programs are common. There are even programs in which multiple people can be matched up in a “ring,” if would-be family donors don’t match their relative, but do match someone else in need of a kidney in Canada.

Brennan is hoping her plea helps others as well.

In 2018, there were 4,300 Canadians on waiting lists for an organ. Of those, 78 per cent were waiting for a kidney, according to the Kidney Foundation. A living donor program seeks to help those in need of a kidney find a donor.

Several prominent locals have had living donor transplants, including former Langley Township councillor Charlie Fox, who received a kidney from his wife.

READ MORE: Kidney Walk in Fort Langley a very personal issue for Charlie Fox

Brennan is still waiting to see if her brother is compatible, and she has few other options.

“I don’t have any other relatives in this country,” she said.

Meanwhile, she’s still dealing with the grind of frequent medical appointments and new dietary restrictions.

A dialysis appointment at Surrey Memorial means getting up at 5 a.m., and relying on a ride from either her husband Bryan or a friend or neighbour.

“We have amazing people who stepped up,” said Frazer.

“People have been very good to us,” said Brennan. “It’s amazing.”

She gets home from the dialysis at about noon and it leaves her tired for the rest of the day.

Brennan said her husband has been a hero, taking on the task of cooking for her when she’s now highly restricted in the foods she can eat.

That’s made all the more difficult because he has diabetes, so the bland, pale foods such as chicken, rice, and white bread she’s supposed to stick to aren’t necessarily good for him.

If she does get a kidney donation, whether from her brother or from someone else, Brennan said it would be a huge change.

“I would get my life back,” she said. “Right now, my life is dialysis and seeing doctors and going for tests.”

She hopes to encourage people to donate to other patients as well.

“That would be lovely for other people,” she said.

Anyone interested in finding out about the Living Kidney Donor Program can call 1-855-875-5185 or email kidneydonornurse@vch.ca.

HealthLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Abbotsford Agrifair’s 2020 event still in the works

Fair will respect COVID-19 health directives, but continuing plans in hope ban will be lifted

Learning after spring break: more details from Abbotsford School District’s superintendent

Parents to receive call from teachers next week, asked to conduct survey to tailor learning needs

Abbotsford’s Mandarin Garden Buffet offering free food to those in need

Chinese food restaurant providing free fried rice or chow mein to those struggling during pandemic

Man sentenced for setting apartment barbecue on fire in Abbotsford

Michael Rodden climbed to second-storey balcony in March 2019

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

Most Read