A Winnipeg family is taking the search for a kidney into its own hands by looking for a living donor.
Amanda Vogiatzakis said she is facing at least a seven-year wait for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor because of her type-O blood.
When the 31-year-old had her son Nick two years ago, it was a surprise. She didn’t think she could get pregnant because she already had low kidney function.
“The doctors actually couldn’t believe it either,” she said. “My kidneys where working at 30-per cent at the time, so it was a very complicated pregnancy.”
Nick was born at 33 weeks. After giving birth, Vogiatzakis said she was in a coma for about a week, and since then her kidney function has declined drastically.
She told CTV News she is expecting to go on dialysis very soon. In the meantime, she and her family are searching for a living donor.
“You can also get a deceased donor but you’d have to go on a list and for me my blood type is O,” she explained. “Unfortunately that blood type has the longest waitlist, I think it’s about seven years right now.”
Dr. Faisal Siddiqui with Transplant Manitoba said blood type and organ donation are intricately related.
“About 39 per cent of Canadians are O-type blood,” he said. “Patients with type O blood are the universal donors, they can give to any other patient with any blood type, but they only can receive from patients who have O type blood themselves.”
Dr. Siddiqui said because of that, type-O patients have a longer wait for a kidney. In Manitoba the wait can be up to 10 years, compared to the 4 or 5 years’ wait for someone with any other blood type.
To increase the odds of finding a living donor, Vogiatzakis’ mother-in-law posted the search for a living donor on Facebook.
“We’ve taken the search into our own hands at the moment,” said Vogiatzakis.
“This young mother needs your help so she can continue to be a part of her son’s life,” the post reads. “We are searching for someone that is relatively healthy with either O+ or O- blood type.
If you can’t donate, we ask from the bottom of our hearts to share this so that it might reach someone that can help us.”
As of Thursday afternoon it had been shared more than 10,000 times, but so far a match has not been found.
“I’ve had people call from all over the country, I even had somebody call me from Mexico,” she said. “If you see the post, share it. You may not be able to donate a kidney which is fine but maybe that one share could reach somebody that is able to, and maybe not just help me but maybe help somebody else that is also looking for a kidney.”
Dr. Siddiqui said right now there are about 200 Manitobans waiting for a kidney transplant and last year 26 living donor kidney transplants were done in the province.
He said a living, unrelated donor is called an altruistic donor.
“Those are healthy people who are willing to give that gift to someone else,” he said.
More information on Transplant Manitoba’s Living Kidney Donor program can be found online.