'A jolt through my whole body': B.C. father who needs kidney transplant paralyzed in fall at home
VANCOUVER -- As the Vancouver Whitecaps get ready to open their season, the organization is rallying around one of its family members.
He's been with the club for five years, but during the COVID-19 pandemic he's been persevering through unimaginable challenges.
"The last 12 months – the last year – has been hard," said Allen Leung, the team's manager of ticket operations. He misses the crowd.
"Seeing that and knowing I had a part of that is definitely what's most rewarding," he told CTV News.
But more than that, he misses his family in Maple Ridge.
For months now, Melodie Leung and their son, Trevor, have been managing on their own.
Allen has been at the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre since January, after a freak fall at home in November.
"I hit my head and was paralyzed from the neck down. Basically my right arm was stuck in a waste basket, and my left arm was stuck under me," Allen recalled.
"I knew something was wrong right away because I could feel a jolt go through my whole body. That day was really hard to remember. I don't like to think about it."
Allen hit his head and suffered an injury to his spinal cord in the fall, which happened just two months after he'd had cervical neck surgery for a growth defect.
Paralysis is not his only battle. He also needs a organ transplant.
"On top of rehab I'm also doing human dialysis for my kidney function," Allen said.
Melodie said his kidney disease is her biggest concern.
"The kidney transplant is what I'm scared about the most because as much as he's going to be a little bit physically stronger, I don't know if his body is going to hold up for it," she said.
Allen needs dialysis three to four times a week, along with multiple physical and mental therapy sessions each day.
Through it all, he's been able to keep an amazingly positive outlook, which he credits to his wife.
"During the pandemic, she's had to navigate (so much). She's had to be a teacher for my son, and also be Mom and Dad."
Melodie and Trevor visit once a week.
Allen said he hopes to be able to walk again, but the goal right now is to get him to a place where he can be as independent as possible.
He said he can't wait for the return of joyful moments, like being able to watch his son score goals in person.
An online fundraiser has been set up by the Whitecaps to help the father in his fight against kidney disease and paralysis amid the pandemic. More than $26,000 has been raised through donations.
Allen is still looking for a kidney donor.
Living donations are managed through the Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital through their transplant clinics. The referral process includes screening, testing and evaluation. More information on becoming a living donor is available through BC Transplant.