31-year-old Victoria resident Drielle Tousignant needs a second kidney donation after her first transplant was unsuccessful. (Contributed by Drielle Tousignant)

31-year-old Victoria resident Drielle Tousignant needs a second kidney donation after her first transplant was unsuccessful. (Contributed by Drielle Tousignant)

Victoria mom calls for more organ donors after first kidney transplant fails

Drielle Tousignant is one of 538 British Columbians waiting for a kidney

A Victoria mom is back on the BC Transplant list after her first kidney transplant didn’t take. In British Columbia, 674 people are on the list, waiting for donated organs — 538 of them are waiting for a kidney transplant.

In May, 31-year-old Drielle Tousignant underwent surgery when a friend of a friend donated her kidney. Tousignant first learned her kidneys were failing in December 2013, after a strep infection travelled from her throat to her kidneys. Chemo treatment helped bring her kidney function back up to 35 per cent, but they kept declining.

Tousignant and her family began looking for kidney donors, putting out the word through social media that she was looking for a match.

READ MORE: You Are Vital $3.5M campaign launched for new hospital equipment

“How do you ask somebody to give a kidney?” Tousignant said, adding that she understands donation can be a stressful and scary process, especially if people don’t know how it works. She tried not to get her hopes up when an acquaintance said she was getting tested, because so many people hadn’t completed the process.

Then the woman tested as a match.

It wasn’t until after the transplant surgery in May, and the ongoing testing following it, that Tousignant found out something was wrong with her new kidney transplant. A rare blood clot complication made the surgery unsuccessful, and Tousignant was in shock. She had to have the donated kidney removed, and is now back on the deceased transplant list, which means she could get a kidney from someone listed as an organ donor after they die.

More than 1.3 million people have registered to become organ donors since 1997, and the Medical Director for Transplant Services in B.C., Dr. David Landsberg, said the deceased donor rates in the province are currently good and improving.

“Right now, about 40 per cent of our transplants are living donors. Sixty per cent are deceased donors. We’ve done well with our deceased donor transplants, however our waiting list is significant,” Landsberg said. “I don’t see us meeting our need with deceased donor transplants. We’re never going to get to the point where there’s no waiting list.”

The best option, he said, is finding a living donor and getting the transplant before complete kidney failure so the patient can avoid dialysis.

“If you look at percentages, living donors have a better outcome than deceased donors. The reasons are, I think, related to the ensured excellent quality of the living donor. With a living donor, you can spend as much time as you need to do as many tests as you need in order to assure yourself that the donor’s kidney is perfect,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t discover their true quality until after the fact. It’s an emergency, it’s done in the middle of the night. When a living donation is done, it’s planned, it’s elective, it’s controlled.”

Tousignant hasn’t been able to work since her first transplant in May, but still hopes to return to work. Her kidney function was only 12 per cent when she was last tested, and since they can’t filter the toxins in her body, Tousignant has to constantly monitor her diet.

On Oct. 31, Tousignant will have surgery to start dialysis for the first time. The single mother is hoping it will give her more energy to care for her 10-year-old son.

“It’s hard living with this disease being a single mom. The simplest things are so hard because you’re so tired,” she said, adding that the effect her illness has on her young son is the hardest part.

READ MORE: B.C. breaks record for number of transplant donations

“I’m hoping more people will sign up to be an organ donor. A lot of people I know aren’t on that list. I think the wait list would be a lot less if people would do that. If I could donate something, I 100 per cent would, but with my health as it is, I can’t,” Tousignant said.

Landsberg added a deceased donor is still a good option, and better than dialysis.

“I want to give a strong message that a living donor is great, but I don’t want to give the message that deceased donation is second-rate. It’s not. There are people alive today who got deceased donor transplants 30 years ago who are still doing great.”

He recommends anyone who wants to be an organ donor after they pass away to register their wishes now so their family is aware and doctors know in the case of an emergency.

“If you’re struck by a story and you want to consider living donation, we’re happy to discuss that,” Landsberg said.

BC Transplant Services can help patients find living donors with outreach and tools found at www.transplant.bc.ca. Those interested in donating can also find information at that website.


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Road improvements in Sooke are nearing completion . (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Sooke road work nears completion

Projects part of $5.7 million in improvements

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

Victoria Police Department seized a replica firearm during an early morning call to the 100-block of Gorge Road East on April 11. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police seize replica firearm in early Sunday morning call

Officers called to temporary housing facility in 100-block of Gorge Road East

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read