Mrs. Canada donating kidney to Spirit of the West drummer
Published Thursday, August 6, 2015 9:31AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 6, 2015 9:44AM PDT
The beauty queen who won last year’s Mrs. Canada International title said she didn’t think twice when the opportunity arose for her to donate a kidney to an old friend, Spirit of the West drummer Vince Ditrich.
Ditrich, 52, has been undergoing weekly dialysis since being diagnosed with kidney failure in 2013.
His health deteriorating rapidly, Ditrich was in desperate need of a transplant, and someone to make a selfless organ donation.
“I was the walking dead, frankly,” the Canadian folk music icon said, recalling constantly being “freezing cold,” and unable to stay awake for several hours at a time.
That’s where Angie Shilliday comes in. Friends with Ditrich for more than 20 years, she jumped into action after catching wind of her old friend’s condition in March.
“It's a simple thing for me to do to keep him around,” she said.
The two hadn’t seen each other in person in several years, but the mother-of-two teenage boys, who is married to one of the drummer’s childhood friends, insisted he'd take one of her kidneys. And after months of tests the pair appears to be a match. Shilliday is in Vancouver this week to complete final testing.
The drummer says he feels “very moved and very humbled” by the life-changing gift.
“As anyone can imagine, it’s as massive a gesture as anyone can give,” he said.
The match appears to be solid and final confirmation is expected by the end of the month.
With hundreds of Canadians waiting for a healthy kidney, the longtime friends are urging people to consider organ donation.
“If you have two kidneys and both of them function live normally, you can donate one and live the same lifestyle you’ve had all along, minus a short recovery time,” said Shilliday.
“It’s a great thing to do,” Ditrich added.
Ditrich is the latest member of the iconic Vancouver-based band to go public with a serious health issue.
After surviving cancer, frontman John Mann went public last year with a devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fellow singer Geoff Kelly also battles severe Crohn’s disease.
Spirit of the West has been popular on the Canadian folk music scene since the 1980s with hits such as "Home for a Rest" and "Political."
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDonald