In gratitude to a man who gave a kidney to her husband

In gratitude to a man who gave a kidney to her husband

Willing donor wants to pay it forward

Abbotsford's Lois Wilson wants to repay the kind deed that helped save her husband's life. She plans to donate her healthy kidney.

Desperate to save her husband’s life, Lois Wilson posted a request on the Internet in June 2008.

She offered to swap her healthy kidney in exchange for one for her husband, Dave, for whom her kidney was not a match.

The post was taken down within hours, due to concerns that the site provider had about the legitimacy of the offer and issues about organs being sold on the black market.

But the request had been online long enough to attract the attention of a TV media outlet, which pursued the story. Soon, Lois was being interviewed not only by local media, but by U.S. outlets such as CNN and Fox News.

The attention resulted in several people offering to be a donor for Dave, now 75. One was a match, and he had a successful transplant three years ago.

Lois continues to share her story, particularly during Kidney Health Month in March, in hopes of inspiring others to become organ donors – either while alive or upon their death.

She points out that the average wait time for a person on the list to receive an organ from a deceased person is five years. Many people die before that time comes.

Dave, who declined to be interviewed, was diagnosed in his early 60s with polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition in which cysts form on the kidneys, causing them to become enlarged. This results in reduced kidney function and, eventually, failure.

Their two grown daughters, a grandson and Dave’s sister have also been diagnosed with the disease, making them ineligible to be kidney donors.

In late 2006, Dave was placed on dialysis, a procedure he endured three days a week, five hours at a time, to remove waste products from his blood – a task that his failing kidneys could no longer perform.

The process severely impacted the couple’s lives, preventing them from travelling, including the motorcycle trips they had previously enjoyed. Dave’s condition and treatment left him continuously fatigued and unable to accomplish tasks such as yard work.

He was on the waiting list for a cadaver transplant, but as his condition worsened, Lois feared there might not be enough time – thus, her plea over the Internet.

The couple are forever grateful to the man who donated his kidney. They met him once for dinner before the procedure, but he otherwise wanted to stay anonymous.

“He was just a very special kind of man,” Lois said.

It took about 18 months after the surgery for Dave to adjust to the anti-rejection drugs, which can have severe side effects. The pair have now begun travelling again – mostly across B.C., because the cost of Dave’s medical insurance to go elsewhere is too expensive – and are back on their motorcycles.

“Generally speaking, he’s doing pretty well … Sometimes he grumbles about having to take pills four times a day, but it’s better than the alternative,” Lois said.

She now wants to return the favour by donating her kidney – hopefully, to her sister-in-law. Although their kidneys are not an exact match, medical advancements now make these types of transplants a possibility in some cases.

But her sister-in-law is worried about the procedure and hasn’t decided whether she will proceed with that option or go a more traditional route. If she decides against it, Lois said she hopes to find someone else to whom she can donate a kidney.

“I’d just like to pay it forward,” she said.

For more information about Kidney Health Month, visit the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s website at

For more details about becoming an organ donor, visit







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