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Woman set out to anonymously donate a kidney, saves friend
« on: April 26, 2014, 01:32:57 PM »

Paris woman saves friend through organ donation
By  Colleen Toms

Lydia Wilcox, 38, set out to anonymously donate a kidney to someone in need. In doing so she ended up saving the life of a longtime friend.

The Paris woman is well known for jumping into the fire when others are running away – quite literally. So it really wasn't much of a surprise when Wilcox told her husband Frank that she planned to donate an organ.

"There was no question from Frank, he was supportive from day one," the active mother of two boys and full-time Kitchener firefighter said.

Wilcox believes the seed of organ donation was planted when she was a teenager and her older brother had an illness that affected his kidneys.

After reading about anonymous organ donation and hearing that a co-worker was on a donor list for a lung, she put her plan into action.

On Nov. 27, 2013, Wilcox had her kidney removed at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.

"The last thing to go through my mind as I was looking up at the ceiling was, 'what the hell did I get into? I'm healthy, I feel great and I'm gong to wake up feeling like hell,'" she said with a laugh.

By then, Wilcox's idea to donate anonymously had taken a turn. She had gone through a battery of tests and was waiting for a six-month gap to close before she would be called for surgery.

During that time Ian, an old high school friend, reached out to her on Facebook. As they chatted Wilcox discovered that he was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Juvenile diabetes caused extensive damage to his liver and was beginning to affect his eyesight.

"I called St. Joseph's and asked if I could go from being an anonymous donor to a background donor," she said. "They had to make sure that (Ian) had no connection to people who knew that I was prepared to donate a kidney. I had only told my husband and doctor but they wanted to be sure he didn't seek me out."

Tests were done to ensure Ian's body wouldn't reject the kidney. Both Wilcox and Ian are Type O blood and everything matched up perfectly.

"To me it seemed so strange," Wilcox, said. "My recipient was a black male and here I am a white female and we were a perfect match. It shows you how much the same we all are on the inside."

Coincidentally, Ian also matched exactly the type of person Wilcox originally wished would receive her kidney.

"One question the psychologist asked me when I was being tested for the anonymous donation was 'who would you like your kidney to go to?''' she said. "I said I would like it to go to (someone like) me. Someone who has a young family and dreams for the future."

Ian is a father of two and would have been on dialysis for at least seven years if it were not for the coincidental chain of events.

While speaking with her specialist Wilcox discovered that she had given Ian much more than a kidney.

"My doctor said 'no, he would have died on dialysis. He didn't have seven years,'" she said. "That was like a slap in the face. He needed that kidney now.

"It's funny because he is very religious and is saying that God ordained it. I'm an atheist and I'm saying it's a coincidence. But I never thought that we wouldn't match."

Ian is doing well now and Wilcox bounced back from her surgery very quickly. She is back on the fire trucks doing what she can to continue to help others.

For Wilcox, it's all in a day's work.

"I don't come back from a fire call that had good results and say ' woo hoo.' It's just what I do, and it was the same with the kidney donation," Wilcox said. "When people say 'why do you do this, why do you want to be a firefighter?' I say because I can and because it is in me to do it."

Wilcox will speak to participants of the Kidney Foundation of Canada's Living Green Ribbon at Harmony Square on Sunday beginning at noon. People are asked to wear green and form a living green ribbon to raise awareness of the need to consent for organ donation.
Unrelated directed kidney donor in 2003, recipient and I both well.
626 time blood and platelet donor since 1976 and still giving!
Elected to the OPTN/UNOS Boards of Directors & Executive, Kidney Transplantation, and Ad Hoc Public Solicitation of Organ Donors Committees, 2005-2011
Proud grandpa!


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