Kidney Suites Receive Much-Appreciated Support from Royal Canadian Legion Foundation

For Clare McDowell, turning 30 was more than the usual milestone most young women experience. It was the birthday of a lifetime. Among the gifts she received (cards, a balloongram and computer gadgets,) she was given The Gift of Life. On December 8, 2005, three weeks before her 30th birthday, Clare got the call from The BC Transplant Society. They had a kidney for her. Happy Birthday!

The Victoria resident had been in university studying to become a teacher when she was diagnosed with kidney disease. A short six months later, the lively 23 year-old started hemodialysis and became one of the regular evening dialyzers at Victoria’s Community Dialysis Unit. Continuing her studies as she sat for five hours hooked up to the life-saving machine three nights a week, Clare finished her degree but was only able to teach part-time because of the fatigue that accompanies kidney disease.

Clare’s successful transplant surgery took place at Vancouver General Hospital in early December. Her next hurdle was the need for a place to stay in Vancouver for the follow up visits that post-transplant patients require with their medical team: a month of twice weekly checkups; a second month of weekly appointments, followed by a diminishing number of visits, (every two weeks, once a month, etc.) Living out of town is an expensive proposition for a part-time school teacher. But help was at hand.

In January 2000 The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch, had opened its first Kidney Suite to provide accommodation to kidney patients with financial need who live outside the lower mainland and must travel to Vancouver for treatment. Thanks to the support of many organizations, including New Chelsea Society, Vancouver Poppy Fund and Royal Canadian Legion #83 South Burnaby, there are now three apartments centrally located at Chelsea Towers and a total of 67 kidney patients have experienced the home-away-from-home atmosphere during their lengthy stays in Vancouver.

“It’s really comfortable here,” said Clare of the one-bedroom apartment she’s been sharing with her mom during this time of recovery. “The kitchen is really well equipped, and I love the décor. Thanks for making it possible for us.”
On January 19, 2006, Maria Thomsen, Executive Director of The Royal Canadian Legion Foundation presented a cheque for $2,000. to The Kidney Foundation, BC Branch, to help support the ongoing maintenance of the Kidney Suites.

“Without the financial support we receive from generous organizations like the Royal Canadian Legion Foundation we would not be able to maintain this much-needed service to BC’s kidney patients,” says Sharon Farrish, Director of Programs, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, BC Branch.

Thanks to The Kidney Foundation, BC Branch, and donors like The Royal Canadian Legion Foundation, Clare McDowell is well on her way to enjoying life as a “thirty something” career woman.