Spallumcheen’s Joan Froats, with her husband, Gary, is trying to stay positive through dialysis and a pandemic in hopes of receiving a kidney transplant. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Spallumcheen woman hopeful for kidney donation

Joan Froats waits patiently while undergoing dialysis and living through COVID-19 crisis

This was supposed to be the time Joan Froats and her husband, Gary, would be returning north from wintering at their snowbird home in Palm Springs.

The Spallumcheen couple had purchased a mobile home a few years ago with the plan that they’d spend the often harsh Canadian winters down south, like so many Canuck snowbirds.

They got to use the home for one month.

In 2014, feeling extremely tired and falling asleep all the time, the then-59-year-old Froats was diagnosed with Granulomatosis with Polyangitis (GPA for short), a rare overactive immune system disorder that restricts blood flow to internal organs, leading to irreversible damage.

GPA, said Froats, becomes fatal, commonly from kidney failure.

“Upon diagnosis, I learned the function of both my kidneys was at eight per cent, which is considered End Stage Renal Disease,” said Froats in the dining room of her Spallumcheen home with Gary at her side.

She underwent chemotherapy and plasma exchange treatments, followed a rigid, restricted diet and was prescribed a plethora of medications.

The GPA went into remission but Froats’ overtaxed kidneys could not clean her blood enough for an indefinite period of time. In October 2017, she was put on home dialysis, a temporary life-saving cleaning process but not as efficient for all the functions performed by her kidneys.

Froats had to be connected to the machine every night for 10 hours. Her kidney function was, and remains, between two and three per cent.

“Kidney failure causes nausea, a loss of energy, and a lot of physical and mental fatigue,” said Froats, now 65, a former accountant with an Armstrong insurance company. “Many days are difficult to get the basics of my prior life done, and I cannot enjoy activities with family and friends as I once did.”

What Froats needs is a kidney transplant.

And she thought she had one lined up from her sister, who was identified as a suitable donor, giving Froats hope of regaining her previous life.

Froats went through testing in Vancouver in April 2017, but the transplant team said her body had not yet regained sufficient strength to undergo the surgery, so plans were put on hold.

More than two years later, in October 2019, Froats was declared ready. So was her sister, who was instructed to retest as her results were more than a year old.

New results showed Froats’ sister was no longer able to give her the kidney.

“We were devastated,” Froats said. “So today, I am actively resuming my search for a live kidney donor.”

Even if a donor is found, Froats’ transplant would be deferred due to COVID-19 as all doctor appointments have been cancelled.

The Froatses understand kidney donation is not right for everyone. For some, said Joan, the idea of a kidney donation is a natural fit and they are comfortable with the idea.

READ MORE: Group plans North Okanagan chapter of Kidney Foundation

“Kidney donors are able to live normal and healthy lives with just one kidney,” said Froats, who had one of her kidneys removed in December 2019, and who now visits the Vernon Renal Clinic once a week for dialysis to go along with her nightly routine. “Donors are carefully, medically screened to make sure it’s safe for them to donate.”

The transplant team will consider the donor’s health and well-being a priority. Donors do not have to be a relative to step forward or even have the same blood type.

If she’s able, Joan and Gary will again participate in the 2020 Kidney Walk in Vernon on June 7 (if it goes ahead and is not cancelled due to COVID-19).

READ MORE: Vernon walks for kidney disease

“Gary has helped me through a lot,” smiled Joan. “He’s been so positive.”

If you’re interested in exploring kidney donation and helping Froats – it’s all confidential and exploring the option does not mean committing to it – check out, or contact Renee, donor coordinator at Vancouver General Hospital Pre-Transplant Clinic at 1-604-875-5182 for more information.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Healthcare and Medicine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Autism Awareness Day highlights challenges amid COVID-19

AutismBC regional coordinator in Kelowna discusses living with autism amid a pandemic

UPDATE: Good Samaritan delivers stolen sentimental mail

Some items stolen from boxes in the BX area were returned to the rightful owner

WATCH: Armstrong retirement community adapts amid COVID-19

Heaton Place rethinks programming to ensure residents stay safe, healthy and entertained

BREAKING: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

This is B.C.’s first community outbreak at a corrections facility

Answer your phone, Vernon school district says

No caller ID or unknown callers could be your child’s teacher reaching out

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

‘We’re working to help every Canadian’: Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier explains she is working with all levels of government amid COVID-19

Two planes come into close contact above Kelowna

The incident occurred between a WestJet flight and a private plane back in 2019

Most Read