UPDATED: Abbotsford Police inspector to donate kidney to detective

Transplant surgery set to take place on Wednesday

Abbotsford Police Insp. Kevin Wright (left) is donating a kidney to Det. Roy McBeth.

Abbotsford Police Insp. Kevin Wright (left) is donating a kidney to Det. Roy McBeth.

Det. Roy McBeth of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) jokes that although he tried to find a greeting card to show supervisor Insp. Kevin Wright his gratitude, there wasn’t one suitable for the occasion.

“Thank you for the kidney” cards aren’t available, and McBeth said it’s difficult to express how grateful he is for the gift that Wright is giving him.

McBeth, who turns 45 on Jan. 28, will receive a kidney from Wright, 51, during transplant surgery today (Wednesday) at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

“There are no words to express the amount of gratitude that I have. You can’t put a monetary value on it, but really to me it’s almost like someone who’s won the lottery and is turning to me and giving me the ticket,” McBeth said.

McBeth, who has been with the APD since 2004 and currently works in the domestic violence unit, was diagnosed in his early teens with a hereditary degenerative condition called polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

The condition is characterized by numerous fluid-filled cysts that result in massive enlargement of the kidneys, eventually progressing to kidney failure.

McBeth’s grandmother died of the condition in her late 30s, and his dad passed away in 2010 at the age of 63.

Other family members also have the condition.

McBeth was diagnosed after being screened for the disease, but maintained his health through the years as a competitive cyclist, sometimes participating in triathlons.

He first began noticing signs of PKD about two years ago, when he was becoming increasingly fatigued and finding it more difficult to exercise.

His health has been monitored more closely ever since and has reached the point where his kidneys are functioning at only about nine per cent of normal capacity.

McBeth was either facing dialysis – a process that removes waste and excess water from the blood and must be performed four or five hours every second day – or a transplant.

His family members could not donate a kidney due to their history of PKD. His wife, Anne, was not a match to donate a kidney, nor were some of her family members, so McBeth began reaching out to friends and co-workers.

A letter sent through the police union advised fellow officers of his plight, resulting in several people coming forward – mainly through the APD – to be tested.

Wright, who has been with the APD since 1995, turned out to be the best match.

He said he agreed to donate his kidney after realizing that he could still live a productive, healthy, normal life while helping someone else.

“It’s something I could do for him and his family to help him out … and it’s not going to affect me negatively in the long run so I figured it’s just something I wanted to do for him.”

The surgery will take about four hours for Wright and twice as long for McBeth, and the recovery period is anticipated to be six to eight weeks.

The two already have ambitious plans following their recovery. They have registered to compete in the Challenge Penticton half triathlon event on Aug. 30 as part of a relay team with two others.

McBeth has a 12-year-old son who has also been diagnosed with PKD, and he and Wright want to raise awareness of kidney disease, the need for a cure and the importance of live donors.

Leading up to the event, Wright jokes that there’s one thing McBeth can do to thank him.

“If we go for a bike ride, he’s going to have to give me about a couple of miles’ head start just because I gave him my kidney, just to even the playing field a little bit.”

LIVING DONOR DONATION

A living individual can potentially donate one of their kidneys, or a portion of their liver, to someone they know or, in the case of a kidney, anonymously to someone they don’t know.

Live donation now accounts for half of the kidney transplants each year.

The recipient is often in better health at the time of the transplant compared to those who wait for a deceased donor, according to BC Transplant.

The agency’s most recent statistics show there are currently about 350 people on the list to receive a kidney from a deceased donor, and the median wait time is about 44 months.

BC Transplant says of the approximate 25,000 deaths in B.C. each year, less than one per cent die in a way that leads to organ donation. In 2013, there were 67 deceased organ donors in the province.

For more information about becoming a living donor, visit transplant.bc.ca.

Photo below: Abbotsford Police Insp. Kevin Wright (right) is donating a kidney to Det. Roy McBeth. The surgery takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 14. The pair are pictured here with McBeth’s wife Anne (second from left) and Wright’s wife Elly.