The staff of Bella Coola’s BC Service Centre were honoured with a special Community Leadership Award from the Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC and Yukon Branch, for their dedication and support of organ donation and registration.
Chris Millham and Denise Casperson have been instrumental in encouraging Bella Coola residents to register their organs for donation. At the BC Service Centre, those wishing to register themselves can pick up an organ donation card and pop it in the mail, ensuring that their organs will be donated to those in need.
The award was presented by Rhonda Morton and Darren Dettling, whose daughter Challaine was born without functioning kidneys and spent two years on dialysis until she grew strong enough and big enough for a transplant. Rhonda is now a volunteer with the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
Challaine Dettling-Morton’s remarkable story is well known in Bella Coola, and has almost certainly proved to be a catalyst for local people to register as organ donors.
“Our family has experienced this very dire situation, where our daughter Challaine was born in April 2009 with end-stage kidney failure,” Rhonda shared. “The odds were against us many times, and it was tough, but she smiled and blew everyone her kisses everywhere. She was a happy girl despite the internal turmoil.”
Challaine spent almost her entire first two years of life on dialysis. Peritoneal dialysis began on her third day of life. Hemodialysis took over once the peritoneal stopped working, and she underwent three-hour sessions, four days a week, leaving her with only one day free from the invasive process.
“The machine removed her entire blood volume twelve and a half times each session before she would become too toxic for herself again,” explained Rhonda. “It’s amazing, dialysis kept her alive for 26 months.”
Challaine’s father Darren began rounds of testing to see if he was a match for organ donation and incredibly, he was.
“We received the good news on my birthday, June 8, 2011,” said Rhonda’ brother, Ray Morton. “Rhonda told me when we were sitting in the lobby in Children’s Hospital. I have so much respect for them as parents, they’ve been through so much.”
After spending a total of two years as an inpatient of Vancouver Children’s Hospital, Challaine is now an active six-year old, enjoying school, family life, and discovering her world. She will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life, but she is dialysis free and it has changed her life forever.
As for her father, Darren has noticed very few side effects from the donation of his kidney, saying he is hiking mountains and keeps a very normal activity level.
“The only thing I noticed is that I get thirsty more often,” he shared. “Challaine’s doing amazing, and that’s all that matters.”
“Your family has shown an amazing degree of courage, it’s very inspirational,” said BC Service Centre employee Chris Millham.
Have you registered to be an organ donor? Right now there are over 500 people in BC waiting for a life saving organ transplant, and almost 400 of those are waiting for a kidney. Sadly many of these patients will die waiting.
95 percent of British Columbians say they support organ donation but only 19 percent have actually registered on BC’s organ donor registry. The Kidney Foundation of Canada has committed to increase organ donor registration and kidney transplants by 50 percent over the next five years.