Alain David: giving the gift of life, literally

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Kate Aley

We frequently hear about lives saved by organs from deceased donors, but far less about a quiet but remarkable group: live donors. 

Breckenridge’s Alain David is in his first week of recovery after having his left kidney removed and given to a total stranger whom he will never meet. This decision to undergo the operation was not a spontaneous one.

“I’ve had this on my bucket list for six, seven years,” he explained. "Laureen Bureau, a kidney recipient herself and volunteer for the Canadian Kidney Foundation asked me if she could talk to my classes [at Grande Riviere high school in Aylmer] about organ donation. She has been coming every year since, […] so I’ve heard the presentation about 30 times. One day I said, you know what, I am going to walk the talk. In Quebec alone, there are so many people who die while on the waiting list, while on dialysis. It was something that got to me.”

At the end of 2015, there were 856 people seeking a donor in Quebec; 613 of whom needed a kidney. During the year, 40 people died waiting.

Last week, David was the first of four live donors who underwent surgery.

“I feel like I got run over by a truck, but it’s easier for the recipient,” he said. “The new kidney is actually placed by the bladder in the front of the recipient’s body so they have to be very careful for the rest of their life. My remaining kidney will grow about 10 per cent to compensate for the missing one. When possible, you always give the left kidney because the tube that drains the urine from the kidney to the bladder is slightly longer; it gives them a little bit more to work with.” 

David’s kidney was tested for health over a five month period. During this time, other donors and recipients were being identified.  People who wish to donate to a family member but are not a match, are encouraged to act as a live donor for someone else and so a chain of donors and recipients is built.

David lost 45 pounds to be in the best possible shape for his surgery. “The doctor told me the healthier, you are the less pain you’ll be in and the faster you’ll heal,” he said.

Devising a 4.6 km route along a series of back roads near his house, David walked the distance to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal in 49 outings and returned in another 49.

After that, he traced lumber baron Philemon Wright’s path in reverse by walking 700 km from Hull from Woburn, Mass., requiring 155 outings.

“After the first time, I got so good at it I walked the route twice the day,” he said. “Once I was in Woburn, I decided to go to Monmouth, Ill., because that is where Wyatt Earp is from, a childhood hero of mine. This journey is approximately 1,885 km so I stepped up my distances to 18.4km a day. I stopped the day before my operation with 30 outings to go.”

 David intends to resume his trip to Monmouth as soon as he is able.

He was recently invited to take part in a National Advisory Panel on the living organ donation program in Toronto, where he plans to call for more information, encouragement and support for live donations.

“Everyone thinks this [my donation] is heroic… [but] the nurses and doctors that deal with transplant patients every day, they are the heroes,” he stated. “The people on the waiting list and on dialysis, they are the heroes. I am just a pawn that helped set some wheels in motion.”

David considered his donation simply as “the right thing to do."

"Just hearing about this, every year, I wondered:' how come there are not more people doing this?'" he pondered. "Through these presentations, I met people who had given a kidney who now run marathons; who lead normal lives. I thought, if they can do it, I could do it as well.”

David hopes that through this story, people will understand the critical need for organ donors. 

“I understand that being a live donor is scary,” he conceded. “But if you just sign your healthcare card, you could save eight lives with your organs and improve 40 lives with other parts of your body after your death. That’s the message I strongly want to get across.”

Comments

Live organ donation

A wonderfully inspirational story. Kate: specifically how do we find out about this? Who to contact? This topic would make an excellent community talk.

Thanks!

Kidney donor

I am deeply impressed by Alain David. My husband has been on dialysis for two years hoping for the miracle. In September, I will go to Grande Rivière High School and meet Alain David to give him a big hug and tell him how a wonderful human being he is. My husband Klaus is on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
Merci.

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Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Pontiac Community Gym hopes to open by end of year

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Kate Aley

Despite some setbacks and delays, work continues on the building on Clarendon Street that will house the Pontiac Community Gym. Coordinator Rachelle Dinelle gave Pontiac2020.ca an update.

Dedicated volunteer recognized with Governor General's medal

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Kate Aley

Luskville's Hélène Belisle (above) has been an extraordinary force for good in the Pontiac for decades. She has served as councilor for the Municipality of Pontiac, as a school board commissioner for the Commission scolaire des portages-de-l'Outaouais (CSPO), instigated and still facilitates the breakfast club at Notre Dame-de-la-Joie in Luskville, all while operating her own small business, Salon Chez Hélène. On September 11, Belisle was awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers, which recognizes exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians through the office of the Governor General of Canada.

Lacing up for the 2018 Terry Fox Run

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Kate Aley

September brings many things, among them cooler weather, fall fairs and the Terry Fox Run.

Regional coordinater John Petty is once again chasing the elusive goal of having 200 participants at this years run on Sunday, September 16.

Petty, along with his late wife Betty and legendary friend Rick Valin, has been facilitating the run practically since there was one.

The story of a story teller: the Joan Finnigan musical

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by: 

Kate Aley

Joan Finnigan, daughter of Shawville's Frank Finnigan, poet and author of 28 books, died in 2007. Now her legendary stories of life in the Ottawa Valley are brought to life in I Come From the Valley, a new musical by Stone Fence Theatre.

The cast of I Come From the Valley: standing from left, Phil Goden, Luna Nordholdt, Nigel Epps and Jocelyn Smith. Fran Pinkerton, seated, plays Joan Finnigan. Photo courtesy Stone Fence Theatre.

Exhibit featuring close-up paintings of Gatineau Park

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In collaboration with painter Ruby Ewen, we have organised an exhibit featuring close-up paintings of Gatineau Park!

Visiting the exhibit is free and, if you buy a painting, 50% of the proceeds will go to our Cameron-Purenne fund for research with which we fund scientific research in or about the Park!

Come and see these beautiful paintings inspired by our Park!

Where? At the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre.
When? During the Visitor Centre opening hours.

Exposition de peintures présentant le parc de la Gatineau en gros plans

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En collaboration avec l'artiste Ruby Ewen, nous avons mis sur pied une exposition de peintures présentant le parc de la Gatineau en gros plans!

Visiter l'exposition est gratuit et si vous achetez une peinture, 50% des revenues iront à notre fonds Cameron-Purenne avec lequel nous finançons des projets de recherche scientifique dans le Parc ou à propos du Parc!

Venez voir ces belles peintures inspirées par notre parc!

Online Survey: Benefiting from Nature in the Pontiac

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Do you spend time outside enjoying nature?  If so, McGill University PhD student Dalal Hanna would love to hear from you in an anonymous online survey.  She is conducting a research project on the diverse ways people living in the regions of Bristol and Pontiac benefit from nature, and how they would ideally like to benefit from nature in the future. Dalal does this research because it generates information that can help society come up with improved ways to manage the diverse benefits we get from nature. The project seeks to improve knowledge and is purely academic.

The summarized and anonymous findings of the project will also be shared with your community in December 2018 at a gathering, and made available publicly online and to local land use planners.  

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