Margaret McFarland can’t blink back the tears when talking about her young sister, Michelle Oyer of Kamloops.
They’re best friends. They talk on the phone all the time.
When Margaret, of Enderby, discovered she needed a new kidney, who got the ball rolling to volunteer to give her big sis one of hers? Michelle, naturally.
“What she’s doing makes me so happy,” said Margaret, 54, who will receive one of Michelle’s kidneys in a transplant operation at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in September. “It wasn’t a shock that she volunteered. She’s very selfless, very loving. I couldn’t ask for more.”
In 2006, Margaret was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is inherited though she never would have known because Margaret was adopted.
PKD has no cure and is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure.
Once she was diagnosed, Margaret went about life. She worked at Tim Hortons in Enderby and walked the nearly two-kilometre stretch from her home to her job.
In the fall of 2016, Margaret started having trouble breathing.
McFarland wasn’t sleeping because she couldn’t breathe and the symptom persisted, leaving her tired and dizzy.
On Sept. 14, she asked her husband, Darcy, to take her to Shuswap Lake General Hospital in Salmon Arm.
“They had me in the hospital and intubated me right away,” said Margaret, who was seen by her regular doctor and a kidney specialist. “They took me the next day by ambulance to Kelowna. Soon as I got there, they did surgery (to insert dialysis tubes) and started me on dialysis.”
Margaret’s kidneys were “just about gone.” They were only functioning at five per cent.
For the next month, every other day, three days a week, four-to-five hours a visit, Margaret and Darcy would head to Kelowna for her dialysis treatments. A spot opened up for her at the Vernon Renal Clinic and Margaret’s dialysis appointments were moved closer to home. She gets set up by the dialysis machine that clears the toxins and excess liquids that her kidneys can’t. She is constantly cold, covered neck to toe in a couple of blankets and a fleece jacket.
Margaret has Darcy to talk to; a laptop computer to check; a TV to watch. Margaret’s thoughts turn to her impending transplant.
Despite not being biological sisters, Michelle was a blood type match. She’ll donate her kidney to her sister, and will spend four days in the hospital post-transplant. Margaret and Darcy will be in Vancouver for at least three months.
“I’m so excited (for the transplant),” said Margaret. “I wish the days would fly away.”
Kidney transplantation, said her husband, is the preferred treatment option for most people with end-state kidney disease.
“It offers benefits such as greater freedom and a long, healthier life in comparison to dialysis,” said Darcy.
Speaking of benefits…
Leaving their home for several months will be a financial hardship. Darcy isn’t working because of disability issues.
Friends of the couple are organizing a special fundraiser for Margaret, set for Sunday, June 25, from 2 to 9 p.m. at The Green Pub at the Village Green Hotel.
Bands and entertainers including The Noble Crew, Armonia, Clay Stenberg, Pauline Kyllonen, Les Copeland Band, Marv Machura, Cadillac Bob Band, SpiritBorn, Junk Yard Dawgs and The Bone – reforming for this event – will play throughout the afternoon and evening.
There will be door prizes, 50/50 draws and cover charge is by donation. Proceeds go to help the McFarlands.
“I’m overwhelmed. I can’t believe people are coming to play for me,” she said, dabbing at tears.
If there are any businesses willing to donate a door prize for the event, they can call 250-307-3873 and leave a message for pick-up. A fundraising page for McFarland has also been set up at www.youcaring.com/margaretmcfarland-801652.