Sunday, Sept. 7 is the date of the 2008 Gift of Life Fun Run and Walk in support of organ and tissue donation awareness, and according to a Rimbey-area man who’s been through it; the fundraiser is something that virtually everyone should be supporting.
Sponsored by the Kidney Foundation of Canada, the walk/run will begin at 11:00 a.m. on that date and will be held at Red Deer’s McKenzie Trails.
“Kidneys are a vital organ and cleans the blood as much as your liver and I think people should be aware of the importance of them and to look after them like drinking lots of water,” said Don Bowness who suffered with the affliction before undergoing a kidney transplant almost six years ago.
“I think the awareness should also be out there of the importance of organ and tissue transplants and to be aware of your blood pressure and make sure you keep your body healthy,” he added.
After spending two and a half years on dialysis, Bowness received his new kidney as a bit of a late Christmas present on Dec. 31, 2002. Prior to that however, he was forced to travel to both Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer for dialysis every second day, winter or summer, regardless of the weather.
“It was horrible – painful and a lot of travel. It was also very emotional,” he said in recalling his ordeal.
According to his wife Sharon, the treatments were scheduled three times a day with each session lasting for four hours.
“You’ve got to be there – it’s like a job and your life revolves around that,” she said. “A lot of people who go on dialysis are well when they go onto their run and are unwell when they come off. It’s cleaning your blood and do about 100 to 110 litres during that time.”
Bowness said the procedure involves very long and very thick needles and patients are not allowed either food or drink prior to or during treatments.
He speculates he may have contracted the disease as a result of using industrial chemicals in the workplace and advised others to be on the lookout for the symptoms of the disease.
“A lot of people aren’t aware of the symptoms of kidney failure,” he said. “You get a real metallic taste in your mouth, you get tired and can’t stay awake, your body starts to build up fluids and you gain weight because the kidneys aren’t filtering out the toxins. It’s a slow disease that eventually will kill you if you don’t look after it.”
If any member of the public would like to sponsor a local participant, or would like to walk/run themselves, they are welcome to drop by the Rimbey Review for more information or to pick a pledge sheet.