Sunday, 9 April 2017

Rob Lenarcic Needs a Kidney

Guest blog by Dawn Simpson

I arranged with Rose to do a guest post about kidney donation when an old schoolmate’s urgent need for a live kidney tugged at my heart strings.  

I don’t know much about organ donation; I’m just a single mom who edits copy for a living. My life is extra busy because I’m also in school and struggling with my own baggage. But when I started following Ottawa resident Rob Lenarcic’s story two weeks ago, and then heard that his condition had gone from bad to worse, I wanted to set aside some time to get word out and offer support and some possibility of hope to this kind man.

I remember Rob from my small-town school in Winona, Ontario, where everyone knew everyone. He was a friend of one of my best friends and was always chatty and cheerful and smiley. But now, at the age of just 48, Rob is in Stage 4 kidney failure.

Rob before weight loss

How he got there he describes on his Facebook page “Find a Kidney for Rob” But I’ll outline it briefly: After suffering kidney damage from diabetes due to obesity, Rob lost an unbelievable 200 pounds directed at improving his health and getting him on the kidney recipient list. But after that incredible accomplishment, he needed to have reconstructive surgery to remove excess skin to position him better to receive a new kidney, should one be available, decreasing his odds of severe complications. However, after a GoFundMe raised just a fraction of what he needed to cover this surgery, he still went ahead with it, with plans to cash in RRSPs to pay for it. This procedure, though needed by Rob to get him closer to a kidney transplant, was not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.

The financial stress on top of what he must be enduring in this life-threatening state must be overwhelming. But I have seen his cheerful posts, and have been touched by the hope and optimism that come through in tone and in his words. This is a gentle man with a sense of humour who really wants to live and to make a difference.

The day of the surgery came. Keeping watch on his “Find a Kidney for Rob” page, I wondered how it had gone, but didn’t see any new posts for a number of days. Then, eventually, the alarming news came that Rob’s kidney function had dropped from an already low 15% down to a mere 10%. He went from dire to desperate, and, on April 5, about a week post-surgery, Rob had one of the worst days he’s had. He wrote, The surgery may have permanently damaged my kidneys. I'm now going into renal failure with only 10% kidney function left and a creatinine level of 535 (over 5x the normal level of toxins in the blood).” Rob goes on to write, “PLEASE TO EVERYONE THAT SAID THEY WANTED TO GET TESTED, I'M AT THE END HERE, AND NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT YOURSELF TO THE TEST. I'm not sure how much longer I’ll be hanging on.”

So Rob needs a kidney. Desperately. He wants to live, and he’s only 48, for goodness’ sake. In his particular situation, he needs a live donor, because he’s not likely to last the 5-6 years it would take for him to move to the top of the list for a kidney from a deceased donor. Rob shows an incredible spirit of optimism, and he’d love to look forward to life decades down the road. He’s come so far, and to be cut off at the knee now seems so cruel a fate.

Information on live kidney donation for Rob at The Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, can be found here, in case you’d like to see if you’re a match. And you don’t have to live in Ottawa to be a donor for Rob.
or call 613-738-8400 ext. 82778 or ext 81744. To register to be an organ donor for post-life donations, it takes about three seconds for Ontario residents.

And Rob is still accepting help on his GoFundMe page; he has had the reconstructive surgery but is still paying for it.

Rob did not ask me to write this post. In fact, I haven’t seen him in nearly 30 years. But small-town glue is strong, and you never forget the ones you grew up with. I contacted Rob and asked him if I could share his story, and he humbly agreed. He said that if his story can help even one person manage their life choices better, he will have succeeded.

Please share Rob’s story in hopes that the next blog post I write will be the story Rob’s new kidney.


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