New lease on life
Man gets second chance with new kidney

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 21/97) - Roy Dodds figures he's one of the luckiest guys alive.

After five years of kidney dialysis, the 32-year-old man received a new kidney from an anonymous donor and things are looking pretty good right now.

On Feb. 4, 1997 at 9 a.m. he was hooked up to the dialysis machine in the clinic at Stanton Regional Hospital. He'd been on it for an hour-and-a-half when the phone rang. It was Dodd's doctor in Edmonton, asking nurse Rhonda Reimer what his patients hemoglobin was.

"We knew right away a donor had been found," said Reimer. "We were practically dancing around. This was our first patient to get a transplant."

Roy was in shock. Reimer didn't think he really believed it. But he phoned his family and friends and notified his boss he wouldn't be in for work.

By 11 a.m. Dodds was on a plane heading south to a new kidney and a new life. The operation began at midnight and two hours later, Dodd's new kidney was making urine.

"The first 48 hours are the trickiest because that's when the body will reject the new organ. There'll always be a chance, but chance lessens the longer it's in, although there's always a risk," Reimer said.

Kidney patient Larry Sangris was called in early that day, because suddenly there was a vacancy when Dodds went south.

He remembers the first time he was to go on dialysis in Edmonton in 1994. He ran away because he was afraid. The police picked him up at a friends house, tired, sick, bloated and sweating.

"'We have to do this to you or you'll die,' they told me. 'You choose.' I went for it," the 33-year-old sometime artist, sometime actor, sometime model said.

He's waiting for a transplant and even if the treatment gives him headaches and makes him tired, it's keeping him alive until a donor can be found.

"If everyone who could, would donate," said Reimer, "there'd be no waiting list."

Dodds hopes to leave Edmonton for his home town of Hay River by mid-March. So far, so good, says Reimer.

March is Kidney month. Nearly 140 canvassers will be on Yellowknife streets, collecting donations for research.