A 24-year-old woman from Steinbach is searching for a new kidney and it is proving to be quite a challenge.
Raelyn Dick had her first kidney transplant 10 years ago, a donation from her dad. While that experience has helped build a strong bond between the two, that kidney could not keep up.
“I was starting to feel very tired, and I was losing weight, my appetite wasn't there,” Dick recalls. “I was trying to work a full-time job and I was just getting super burned out. I found out that it was because my kidney function was going down significantly. This kind of started during the beginning of COVID. Then in September 2020, I got a call from my doctors that said that my kidney is working at 20% and that I would have to start dialysis in a few months. That was probably the worst call of my life honestly, because it's just like, nothing can really prepare you for that.”
While finding a kidney can be a challenge in itself, Dick can only receive one from a donor who is o-positive or o-negative.
“I’ve been told by my doctor that only about 7% of type O’s will match with me,” she says. “So, even people that are looking for an O kidney on the deceased donor list, they're waiting about 9 to 10 years. And for me it would be even longer. So, I'm really hopeful that I might be able to find a living donor because the waiting list that I'm looking at... it is just very, very daunting.”
Until this aspiring kindergarten teacher finds a new kidney, dialysis will continue to be an important part of her life.
“Before this all happened, I was taking full time classes at CMU, I was in a bunch of different leadership positions, I was in choir,” she says. “Every day was just filled with different things, so I've had to really readjust my days.”
That readjustment means scaling back on the many things she would like to be doing.
“I’m at the (University of Manitoba) right now as a student but I'm taking two classes instead of my normal load,” Dick says. “And I'm carpooling with a really wonderful group of people, and I never drive. I just sit there, and I get to school, I take those two classes and then someone else drives home.”
She has also been working at Soup’s On, Steinbach’s soup kitchen.
“I work under 10 hours a week so that I'm able to have that sense of community and I'm able to work a little bit, but then I'm not getting burned out.”
Dick has plans to become a teacher, specifically for the younger grades.
“Hopefully, one day I’ll get to teach kindergarten,” she says. “And I would love to teach in Hanover, that would be the dream for me, to teach locally.”
Teaching young students is attractive, she adds, because they have a lot of excitement and energy for life.
“And how they look at everything through a new lens. I think that working with children keeps you young.”
Dick would like to get a new kidney sooner than later, so she can focus on teaching and leading.
"In the past when I had my precious transplant, there were only 6 factors they were checking for kidney compatibility and now there are over 100. This means that when I do find a match, it will be very close and will likely last many years."