Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Gift From Within Tour – A journey to save lives

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Saving mom with love, guts and a kidney

BY EILEEN ZHENG

I was born and raised in East Vancouver and moved to the Vancouver-Kingsway neighbourhood in my teen years. I have always been very closely connected to my community, no matter where I lived.

Currently I work for the Windermere Community Schools Program as a programmer and I help to run the after-school programs in our local elementary schools for students to have a safe place where they can learn and be supported during after school hours. I was always one that benefited from these programs as a child, as my family was not able to afford much.

Mom and Eileen fully recovered

Mom and Eileen fully recovered. Photos courtesy of Eileen Zheng

My mother was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which is a genetically inherited disease. When I first envisioned helping my mother over eight years ago, she declined to take my kidney. She was uncertain of my future, the health risks and the changes that it may bring.

Today, a year after our transplant surgeries and doing extremely well, we realize the benefits of organ donation. It has not only improved our lives, but it has created an extraordinary bond between the two of us.

Now I am hoping to help people that are in need, but in a different sense. These are people that are waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

Being a living organ donor does not necessarily mean that your life stops and you have to change your lifestyle; it’s about saving or improving someone else’s life while you continue yours. It is the most meaningful gift you can give.

My goal is to share our story, increase awareness, increase organ donor registrants and fundraise for the Canadian Transplant Association for the literal lifesaving work that they do.

fundraising for the Canadian Transplant Assoc

Eileen is fundraising for the Canadian Transplant Association.

May 2016 I embark on an incredible journey across Canada on the Gift From Within Tour starting in Vancouver, B.C., and ending in St. John’s, Newfoundland. My fondest childhood memory was with my mother when she spent countless hours teaching me how to bike. Now I continue to bike for enjoyment, my health and the environment. I will cycle to events hosted by the Canadian Transplant Association across the country to tell our life-changing story.

I am asking for your contribution to my fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/ezexistence to begin the ride to help people in dire need of organ transplants. Every donation will make a difference regardless of the amount. Thank you in advance for your support.

You may follow my journey to save lives at www.giftfromwithin.ca.

Eileen Zheng donated one of her kidneys to her mother in 2015.

Eileen’s kidney donation procedure

Eileen visits her mom after surgery

Eileen visits her mom after surgery.

Eileen was tested for everything health-wise the moment she went in to ask about donating a kidney to her mother.

It started with paperwork, blood work, physical exam, urine test, ultrasound, CT scans and genetics test.

She met the team (surgeon, nephrologist, anesthesiologist, social worker, psychiatrist) before the surgery; they were very thorough with making sure that she was 100% healthy and that she was not at risk of polycystic kidney disease herself in the future.

It takes four to eight weeks to recover, six months to recover fully.

Transplant donors can apply for reimbursements if you miss work, as well as for travel, living and parking costs.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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