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BC Children's Hospital celebrates 300th kidney transplant, recognizes special 5-year-old recipient
VANCOUVER -- BC Children's Hospital is celebrating its 300th kidney transplant and recognizing a special young recipient who received his donation from an excellent match: his father.
The hospital is the only facility in the province that performs organ transplants for children, and its first pediatric kidney transplant took place in 1983. The hospital said it performs 15 to 18 heart and kidney transplants each year.
A five-year-old Vancouver Island boy is one of the lucky children who underwent this "life-changing" surgery. Jeremy Wikkerink was diagnosed with a Wilms tumour, a rare form of kidney cancer, when he was just eight months old. The tumour and one of his kidneys were both removed within a week. He then underwent five months of chemotherapy but was later diagnosed with Denys-Drash, a disorder that can lead to kidney failure in children. Jeremy had to be put on dialysis for 12 hours a day as his remaining kidney was shutting down.
"It was devastating," said Jeremy's mother, Michelle. "Obviously your mind just goes to the worst possible scenario. But everyone at Children's Hospital was really great and reassuring us as much as they can that everything was going to be fine."
Since there was a chance Jeremy's remaining kidney could develop a tumour, it was also removed. But two days after his third birthday, he received a transplant from his father, Jason. Michelle said Jeremy is thriving since the surgery and the "sky's the limit for him."
"He's a very active kid and I don't think he's going to let anything get him down," she said.
While the Cobble Hill family isn't certain Jeremy fully understands the gift his father gave him, his mother said they will continue to tell him as he gets older.
"We tell him that you have part of daddy in you. You have daddy's kidney," said Michelle. "I don't think he quite understands what's going on, but he will."
Since kidney transplants only last 10 to 15 years, Jeremy may need another transplant in the future. BC Transplant, the program that oversees organ donation in the province, encourages people to register their decision so their loved ones know what they would have wanted.
While Jeremy is not the 300th transplant recipient, the hospital wanted to share his story as an example of one of the successful transplants the hospital has performed. Michelle said Jeremy started kindergarten in September and is enjoying school so far.
"It's just amazing that they can do kidney transplants," she said. "I couldn't imagine a world where they weren't able to do it. We wouldn't have Jeremy right now if they couldn't."
BC Children's Hospital said there are three children on the waitlist for a kidney transplant in the province and five children waiting for a heart or liver transplant.
You can register as an organ donor at any ICBC driver licensing or Service BC office.