It’s the ultimate gift, really. To willingly remove an organ from your own body, and have it placed in the body of another person so that their life can be as normal as yours. It’s the ultimate gift that any parent would give a child, or most siblings would give each other.
But when Dorothy Pauze extended the offer of one of her kidneys to Cathy, the daughter of her longtime friends, Bonnie and Geoff Ryerson, well… it’s just so much more.
On June 18, both Dorothy (who has a medical team assigned to her) and Cathy (with her medical team) will enter St Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto. There, using laproscopy, surgeons will remove one of Dorothy’s kidneys and implant it in Cathy. And with this gift, Cathy will be able to leave her life of blood purification diligence, dialysis, diet, and worry. She will come home on lifelong anti-rejection medication and her children will greet their mom as a healthy person for the first time in their lives. So much of the expense of all of this is relieved by the Trillium Foundation.
Dorothy will suffer great pain for two weeks. Her total recovery time will be four to six weeks. Cathy’s will be several months. Dorothy’s life will return to normal and her remaining kidney will grow to compensate for the loss. Once her pain is passed, she’ll return to her work in bodily injury insurance, a brand new job in a new territory. She’s had to hit the pause button on the job to help the daughter of her friends.
Though Dorothy is a close friend of her parents, Cathy and Dorothy have met only one time. They will not meet until after the surgery because until the day of the surgery Dorothy can change her mind. Even their medical teams will not meet in order to maintain objectivity until surgery day.
It’s a huge decision to become a donor and of the five people who have gone through months and months of testing, four very healthy people were rejected. Cathy’s mother was rejected due to an imperfect kidney function; her sister due to extra arteries coming out of her kidney. A sister in law was rejected as was a good friend… kidney stone and blood thinning problems were the reasons.
Being accepted as a donor is a rigorous activity and one that Dorothy has remained committed to. Cathy has been on a donor list since 2006 when treatment became ineffective. With a husband, two kids, a home day care and a busy life, life was anything but normal for Cathy and her family. She’s been waiting for a cadaver donor (usually a nine year wait) or a personal donor to come forward.
Mom Bonnie and Dad Geoff are overwhelmed by the generosity of their friend. “From Cathy’s perspective you’re asking somebody to go through intense pain, life-altering change, just so you can continue to life your life. To have someone do that for you is just overwhelming,” says Bonnie. “How do we say thank you? She’ll be so special forever.”
But for Dorothy, it’s a logical gift. “How can I look at my friend’s daughter and not help her have a normal life, if I can?”
It’s the gift of a life time. Literally.
Thanks, Dorothy. And Cathy? Thanks for waiting, and keeping hope.