By Stan Ashbee
Westwind Weekly News
March is Kidney Month and Mar. 11 is World Kidney Day.
As a kidney patient, Jan Clemis was diagnosed over 40 years ago with kidney disease. Clemis is the Alberta director for the Canadian Transplant Association (CTA).
According to Clemis, the two primary goals of the CTA are: 1. Healthy, active lifestyles for transplant recipients, so their donated organ lasts longer and their new life is lived to the fullest. 2. Bring awareness to everyone about organ donation, encourage a candid discussion within families to consider organ donation and register to become an organ donor. Transplantation is the most costeffective treatment for organ failure, so there is a need for more transplants.
For more information please visit online at moretransplants.ca or canadiantransplant.com.
When Clemis moved to southern Alberta from the United States, she started volunteering with the Kidney Foundation over 25 years ago. As far as her own kidney journey, Clemis had renal failure in 2017.
“Luckily, I was able to stay healthy enough and keep my kidneys functioning long enough to hold that off. But, it was actually this month, four years ago, I had renal failure on Mar. 17. I started dialysis right away,” Clemis said, adding she was on dialysis for a year-and-a-half in Lethbridge and completed other procedures and treatments along the way. “But I came out of that with better health, getting rid of those diseased kidneys.”
Then, Clemis pointed out, she was fortunate enough to have her son Blair be her living donor. “I got a kidney transplant at the end of August in 2018.”
“I wouldn’t have the active healthy life I do without my incredible son, Blair,” noted Clemis.
After Clemis had her transplant, Canada hosted the World Transplant Games in Banff last year at the end of February. “I participated in cross-country skiing and snowshoe. There were over 200 participants. People that participate are either a transplant recipient or a living donor or they are the family members of deceased donors.”
“It was a very powerful event for me,” Clemis said, adding she has participated in other various transplant games virtually since then.
According to Clemis, her former husband was also a transplant recipient, receiving a double-lung transplant in 2014. “He unfortunately passed away four years ago, but his transplant gave him and our family three extra years full of weddings, graduations, a granddaughter and purpose.”
Clemis added the CTA encourages families to have a conversation about organ donation. “Because in the end, they are the ones that would decide whether you would become an organ donor upon your death. It’s not an easy conversation to have. We need to sit around the supper table or while you’re out fishing with your parents or your grandparents or while you’re taking a walk or playing a game of cribbage. That’s the time to have that conversation with your family and express your wishes.”
Clemis said the CTA also really supports the Green Shirt Day movement coming up in April.
For more information about Kidney Month visit kidney.ca.