Zac Zenith, a Calgary mortgage broker, needs a kidney donor for a transplant.
Paul Jacobs of Toronto, who is known in the legal and business community, needs a live kidney donation.
Zenith and Jacobs are two of thousands of Canadians, many of them on dialysis, who require a kidney transplant.
When patients are diagnosed with kidney disease, their renal health-care team will help them navigate the process of potentially being put on a transplant list.
Zenith and his wife, Amber, have two children. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune chronic disease called focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and for the past 13 years, his kidney function has dropped significantly. He is now close to having kidney failure, he says.
“I am a hands-on father. My family is my life, and my wish is for their good health and happiness with me here to take care of them. I need a kidney donor.
“My blood type is O positive and any person with a Blood Type O can be a possible match. My wife, her siblings and cousins are not the same blood type or acceptable donors, as they are either older or younger with various health concerns.”
He notes that a person can live a full and healthy life with one kidney. “A live donor would be a great gift, a mitzvah, a gift of life.”
His mother, Helen Zenith, has taken the lead in finding a donor. She started a Facebook page because, she says, people are turning to social media.
Paul Jacobs’ kidneys failed in 2010, as a result of polycystic kidney disease, which can be inherited. Direct family members are therefore not suitable donors. He went on dialysis three times a week.
Jacobs’ wife, Nellie, volunteered to donate a kidney, and after going through months of testing, they determined that she was compatible and an excellent match.
“We thought we were home-free for the next 20 years,” she says. “Unfortunately, two years ago, his transplanted kidney’s function was compromised by a rare effect of a virus.”
She notes that contrary to widespread belief, “there is no living kidney list in North America.”
Helen Zenith told The CJN that initially it was confusing to figure out the system in Toronto. “You can only apply for a kidney from a deceased donor after you are on dialysis. Zac, who is not on dialysis although his kidney function has dropped significantly, has already done a work-up and he’s been found to be transplant worthy, if a private donor can be found.”
In Ontario, she said, when someone goes on dialysis, he or she is “automatically” added to the bottom of the list of recipients, who typically have to wait seven to 10 years.
Jacobs, the father of four children and eight grandchildren, says he prays to be able to continue his work and to enjoy the freedom to come and go.
Nellie Jacobs told The CJN that “it’s time to create a living kidney registry. The outcome of living kidney donors is excellent. Our bodies are able to adjust and function quite well with only one kidney. I can attest to that.
“The well-being of the potential donor is never compromised for the sake of the recipient.”