April is Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Month. This is part three of a three-part series highlighting the experiences of those who have donated, received and are in need of an organ within the community.
It's been a rough year for Bradford teen Daleyn MacIsaac, who has been battling ANCA vasculitis, a rare autoimmune disease attacking her lungs and kidneys.
Every day is different in terms of symptoms. Sleeping, eating and pain control are some of the main side effects she is dealing with from the disease.
MasIsaac was diagnosed with the illness in summer 2019 and doctors told her she would likely need a kidney transplant, and became eligible for the surgery in December 2020.
MacIsaac and her family began to search for a kidney donor this past fall through local campaigns, and so far, there is one qualified candidate that has stepped up to donate their kidney and is in the second stage of the screening process.
"I'm praying and hope she will be a right match," said MacIsaac.
But MacIsaac worries that even if the donor is successful in the screening, the surgery may be delayed due to recent complications surrounding her illness.
"I’ve been tested from my head to my toes," she said about the donor-recipient process, going through multiple blood tests, scans, ultrasounds and X-rays to ensure her body is ready for a transplant.
"After all these tests my doctors are concerned about some of my inflammatory markers. They are not high but they are not at normal levels. This could mean that the disease is back," she said.
She said she is hoping to find out the status is of her case soon and if her kidney transplant process will be able to continue.
Getting a new kidney would mean everything to MacIsaac.
"It would be like giving me my life back," she said. "I could finish my schooling without all the appointments. No more 10-hour dialysis treatments each night. No more fluid restrictions, my stamina would improve. No pain anymore."
Without a new kidney, MacIsaac will have to continue her nightly dialysis treatments. She won't be able to swim and will likely continue experiencing problems with her eating, sleeping and pain.
Currently, MacIsaac does her 10 hours at night, which takes a lot of her energy and stamina. She is in daily contact with Sick Kids regarding her fluid balance, fluid intake, weight and blood pressure. She tries her best to keep up with school work in between appointments.
Since MacIsaac is still a teenager, she is on the SickKids waitlist for a transplant. If she doesn't receive a kidney by the time she turns 18, she will have to move to the adult organ donor list, which can be a five to 10-year wait, minimum.
"I'm alive, but not really living. My life is on hold," she said. "With a donated kidney I would still have lots of medical appointments but I can start to live again. Your organ donation is a gift of life."
To learn more about Living Kidney Donations, click here.
Anyone can register to be an organ and tissue donor in the event of their death through the Ontario government website. Registering as a donor is the only secure and guaranteed way to make your decision known.