Steve Bender needs a new kidney donor

Dear Friends,

I am writing this letter to express my desire to pursue the option of a kidney transplant. This letter is difficult for me to write but you are someone who I feel would want to know what is going on in my life.

Steve Bender

Unfortunately, I am now in the situation that I no longer have a potential kidney donor. Bless her wonderful intentions but the iron content in her blood could not be boosted enough to qualify her for a kidney donation. She tried multiple times to assimilate more iron but they were all unsuccessful. She is a bonafide Saint for her efforts and amazing offer.

This leaves me with the need to start searching again. If you know of someone who might consider donating an organ, please pass this on to them. I find asking, in this case quite difficult but necessary.

FYI. The body of this letter is the new version from St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver where the transplants are performed. You might find the relatively new “paired donour” program of interest because it can help as many as 6 who need kidneys, all at one time. See below.

I have had kidney disease for 3 years and according to my nephrologist, transplant is still the recommended treatment for patients with end stage kidney disease. It has been recommended that a living donor transplant is the best-case scenario to continue living a healthy life.

At this point in my life, I am hoping to move towards a transplant while my physicians and transplant team feel that I am still medically suitable to undergo the procedure. The organ wait list for deceased donors could be a possible 5+ year wait for me at the present time. As that is a long period of time and much further into the future, I may be unsure of my health status and medical suitability for a transplant at that time.

Kidney transplantation is a life-extending procedure. The typical patient will live 10 to 15 years longer with a kidney transplant than if kept on dialysis. The increase in longevity is greater for younger patients, but even 75-year-old recipients (the oldest group for which there is data) gain an average four more years of life. People generally have more energy, a less restricted diet, and fewer complications with a kidney transplant than if they stay on conventional dialysis. You might have heard that dialysis is a treatment option for kidney disease.

I currently perform Peritoneal Dialysis at home every day. This is done 4 times a day and each time it takes an hour to do the entire procedure. It completely interrupts any daily schedule, hinders your ability to travel and keeps you tied to your residence. It is akin to a jail sentence. Although dialysis will keep me alive, it involves a significant amount of time. I have learned that dialysis does not completely replace a normal kidney’s function. The dialysis only performs 10-15% of a normal kidney’s function of filtering toxins in my body.

As you read this, I want to be clear that I would only want a donor that does not feel forced or pressured in any way into donating to me. I understand that this is an extremely personal decision and one that takes much thought as well as your family’s consideration. If this is not for you, that is okay and it will not affect our relationship. As I said before, I am doing this with the hope that it may yield a positive result for me. Thanks for taking the time to read this and your consideration!

If you think that you have an interest and have some questions about the process, then please call:

Donor Nurse Coordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital
604 806 9027/ 1-877-922-9822

Below is a website link to the BC Transplant Society for more information:

Prospective donors can get worked-up and do so without telling me, in case they want to simply inquire about the process. Getting worked-up does not indicate a commitment to do the transplant. I am aware that the transplant team and the donor have a final say on whether a transplant would go forward. As previously mentioned, I am doing this with the hope that it may yield a positive result for my overall health.

Of note, everyone has 2 kidneys and yet we only need one to live a normal, healthy life. For this reason, it is possible for people to donate one kidney. Outside of the risks associated with any surgery, donors don’t typically experience negative health effects from donating a kidney. The length of stay in hospital is 3-4 days and the recovery time is 4-6 weeks, though the transplant team is willing to write a time-off work letter for 6-8 weeks.

I’ve recently learned that one does not have to be an exact blood match, as long as they are healthy enough to be a donor! St. Paul’s Hospital has a paired exchange program whereby if you are not a match to me, you can donate to someone else and that person’s loved one donates their kidney to me at the same time. By doing this, you would be helping 2 people if you participate in this program.

There is financial support for donors to avoid out of pocket costs like hotel stays and flights to Vancouver

If for some reason the donor ends up developing kidney disease and needs a transplant, they go near the top of the waiting list for their blood type. We have not done this after 750+ living donor transplants.

The chance of dying under anesthesia while undergoing a donor transplant surgery is 3 deaths out of 10,000. That’s .03%! According to our surgeon, there is a higher chance of dying under anesthesia removing a wisdom tooth than to die under anesthesia while being a kidney donor.

Steve Bender
Revelstoke, BC

Please continue reading for more information.

Living Kidney Donation Q & A

Google this phrase: “Kidney Donors Live Longer”

One obstacle that donors have to overcome is that most people think that giving up their kidney means they will be sicker and/or die sooner. The statistics show that donors live longer than the average person. The facts are that after recovery, donors can play the same sports and activities that they did before they donated a kidney.

Google: “Oldest UK donor”

An 83-year-old became the oldest living donor in the UK in 2012. His story is not unique as most donors recover this way. You can find a BBC video interviewing him weeks after he donated. FYI- this record was beaten recently in March 2014 when a UK woman at 85 years old donated her kidney!

There is a YouTube video of Nicholas Crace talking about being a donor at age 83. In the beginning of the video, he explains the reason why he wanted to be a kidney donor.

Here’s a YouTube link about a woman who donated to her friend: or search Kidney Donor – Shaw TV Nanaimo

Here is a story about Kevin Campbell who got a kidney after posting about it on Facebook. His cousin saw the post, his cousin’s cousin saw it and then she tells her husband Darin Grunberg who ended up being his donor.

It was described as a stranger donation which on one level is true. The takeaway message is that he informed people in his life for one person to act but also describes that it doesn’t have to be the closest person in your life.

Here is a great story about a woman who received a kidney from a stranger, yet still within her “network.”

3 Ted Talks type talks from a donor, a physician and a recipient: