SAR Member needs Kidney Transplant

Update: see comments below, Tony Rupp has found a donor.

Recently a friend of mine from the Okanagan posted on the BCSARA member’s board a request from a Shuswap SAR member whose kidneys are failing and needs a transplant.

I don’t often pass along information like this, but this case is different – I myself suffer from the same disease as the SAR member in question and although I do not know him, I do know what it’s like to have this disease. My own kidneys may fail some day, and I would hope to get the same consideration.

Finally, there’s this to consider; while the public may see dialysis as a “cure”, most medical professionals will tell you it is not – it is a way to extend the life of someone who is in renal failure. Health outcomes while on dialysis are not as good as those with a kidney transplant, and donations from a living person are better than those from a cadaver.

And so, I’ll copy below the posting on the BCSARA site with permission from the family, and please consider registering as an organ donor, living or not.

After 16 years with Shuswap SAR as a searcher, a GSAR trainer, a team leader, a search manager, a tracker, a tracking teacher and eventually a UTS tracking instructor, Tony Rupp stepped away from volunteerism to focus on our metal works business when we decided to expand and relocate to a building in the Salmon Arm Industrial Park.

During this time, Tony was aware that he had polycystic kidney disease, an inherited, chronic kidney disease for which there is no cure. In the past 3 or 4 years it has worsened to where his kidney function is now down to a GFR (glomular filtration rate) of 15 (versus a healthy, normal level of 60) and kidney replacement is now needed. While his kidneys are hanging in there at the moment (he is tired all of the time, sometimes nauseated and experiences itchy skin at times due to toxins that the kidneys are no longer able to filter out), this could worsen dramatically at any time.

While dialysis is an option, it would only maintain his kidney function at the current level. It is not a cure, it is extremely time-consuming (1.5 hour drive to Kamloops, 4 hours of dialysis, 1.5 hour drive home) and we would both do this 4 to 6 days per week as he would not be able to drive himself home afterwards. He would not feel better, but it would help keep him alive until a donor kidney is found. People can still die while on dialysis.

For reasons that the medical community does not fully understand, live kidney donation is more successful if the recipient can avoid going first on dialysis. That is what we are hoping to achieve. As his spouse, I am currently undergoing testing to see if I am a suitable donor through the Pair Kidney Exchange Program. The process is somewhat time consuming and as this point, there is no guarantee that I can donate. None of Tony’s family members can donate a kidney because they all have the same genetic kidney disease.

Yesterday, Tony’s doctor at the Kamloops kidney clinic advised us to step up our donor search. So here we are, asking you, the members of the tracking community if you or someone you know, might consider donating a kidney for Tony. It is a difficult question to ask because we know that this process will require quite a bit of medical testing, not to mention 2 – 4 nights in hospital followed by 4 – 12 weeks of additional recovery time.

Through the National Paired Kidney Exchange program, you can donate a kidney for Tony even if you are not the same blood type. This is a wonderful program that has allowed many more people to receive the gift of a kidney donation from friends and family who want to help, but otherwise could not. Once a suitable donor is found, replacement surgery would take place as soon as possible.

If you are interested in helping, please go to the website for more information about the process and then discuss it with your family. Your choice to donate must be voluntary, you must be 19 year of age and in good physical and emotional health. Following is the contact information for St Paul’s Hospital. A quick phone call to them will start the process:

St Paul’s Hospital Living Donor Program
1-877-922-9822 or donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

This is a link to lots of very helpful information if some is considering kidney donation:
http://www.transplant.bc.ca/be-donor/becoming-living-donor

Donors live normal healthy lives with one kidney. At any point in the process, you can choose not to proceed. You do not have to explain your decision to anyone. Thank you for reading this and for giving it your thoughtful consideration.

Colleen Cody-Rupp (spouse)

 

3 Comments on “SAR Member needs Kidney Transplant

  1. Hi Michael,
    A little note to update you. My husband, Tony Rupp, has been so fortunate as to find a donor who is a blood match! He will be having surgery to receive his new kidney on September 3rd! We are so fortunate and so grateful to our donor and to everyone, like you, who has shared Tony’s situation.
    I’m sorry to hear that you have the same disease, but it appears that to this point, you are still able to be quite active. But if the time comes that you are seeking a kidney donor, please contact me and I will try to help you in your search.
    Warm thanks and best wishes for continued good health,
    ~ Colleen

    • Colleen, that’s great news, so very happy to hear it!

      If he’s having the operation in Vancouver, and if you or your husband need anything while you’re here let me know. I’ll send you an email with my contact information.

      Best of luck to you and Tony, hoping for good results on the operation!

  2. Thank you Michael,
    We’re very pleased and relieved!
    Yes, surgery will be at St Paul’s in Vancouver and he will have to remain nearby for 2 – 3 months after he is released from hospital. This will be challenging both from a business perspective and because of the cost of living in Vancouver.
    We have been fortunate to confirm a Kidney Suite for 4 weeks through the Kidney Foundation at only $25 per night. Fabulous rate! Hopefully the Foundation will be able to extend that for the duration of Tony’s stay, but that remains to be seen. Failing that, some of the hotels in the area have ‘medical rates’ that are helpful. Something will work out, I know.
    Please do share your contact information. It’s always nice to have some local sources of helpful info.
    Thank you!
    Cheers,
    ~ Colleen

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