Harry Bryant was in tip-top shape when he turned 50, or at least that’s what he thought before the checkup his wife, Carol, pushed him to book.
It led him to be diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.
Never having felt bad a day in his life, Bryant said the diagnosis came as a surprise.
“I jokingly tell friends I never had kidney disease until she made me go to the doctor,” he wrote on a social media post.
Over the years, Bryant’s kidney function has continued to deteriorate, now functioning at 11 per cent.
He was told by doctors treating him in Vancouver he could wait until dialysis is necessary — at that point, patients are automatically added to the cadaver organ waitlist — or he could push to find his own living donor.
“‘Don’t just sit there and wait for it to happen,’” he recalled a doctor from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver saying to him.
“Make it happen.”
The Texas man, who retired from managing manufacturing plants in Austin, moved to Vernon with his wife to be closer to their grandchildren.
His family, especially his wife, are the driving force behind Bryant’s perseverance to continue the fight and forge ahead.
Upon learning the news, close friends and family underwent testing to see if they were a match but to no avail. Despite that, Bryant didn’t slow his search. Instead, he went online.
He became proactive and started a Facebook page to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease and search for a potential live donor.
“I’m not the type of guy that puts myself out there,” he noted.
Without social media and the Grandpa Needs a Kidney Facebook page, Bryant said he would have likely given up his search.
“I think it was done,” he said.
“I had resigned myself to just saying, ‘Okay, fine, wait until you’re on dialysis (and) then on the cadaver list.’”
Doctors told him the success rates of transplants and overall quality of life are higher with a live donor.
Bryant, whose blood is type A and is a universal organ recipient, said his Facebook page is more a resource to educate its followers about the disease that affects nearly three million Canadians, according to the Canadian Medical Association. That’s 12.5 per cent of adults in Canada.
“My quest is from the standpoint of just getting it out there,” Bryant said. “The website is just as much about education as it is my own personal needs.”
But, he added, it “would be great to get a kidney.”