A Mother’s Love

Living with kidney disease hasn’t been easy, but Sandy and her boys have risen to the challenge. 

Like most mothers, Sandy Fairey, would go to the ends of the earth for her children’s health and happiness.  Upon learning two of her three sons had Alport syndrome, a condition characterized by kidney disease, hearing loss and eye abnormalities, Sandy was even more determined to do everything she could to ensure her sons lived a fulfilling life. This diagnosis came as quite a shock to everyone. Suspicion first arose that something was wrong when bloodwork detected abnormal kidney function in her eldest son, Mark. Further investigation discovered that both Mark (age 12) and his youngest brother Greg (age 5) were affected by Alport syndrome. Faced with the uncertain future of progressive kidney disease, Sandy recognized the importance of maintaining a normal routine, “What could I do as a mother? I had always been able to do something. But what now? It was one step at a time, one day at a time.”  

Life carried on until one day in 2006 when doctors informed the family that Mark’s kidney function had reached the point where it was time to discuss transplantation and asked if they had considered living donation. Unable to donate themselves, the family began actively campaigning to find a living donor. Many carefully scripted letters were sent asking family and friends if they would be willing to share such a precious gift. Several individuals came forward and the extensive process of finding a suitable match, which included questionnaires, screening tests, and meetings over the course of six months, began. Finally, a suitable donor was selected, and a successful surgery completed. Nine years later, the news came that Greg also needed a transplant.  Fortunately for Greg, his father was a match and he underwent a successful kidney transplant on October 5 – the exact same day that his brother had undergone his own transplant nine years prior. Transplant life took a bit of adjusting for the entire family. However, it wasn’t long until the daily medication, constant monitoring, and regular clinic appointments became the new normal. Life carried on.

For Sandy, transplant is like an ever-changing script: new pages, new chapters and never knowing what is coming next. This had never been more apparent than two years later when it was discovered that after ten years of health, Mark’s transplanted kidney was failing. Immediately, the family was dealing with the uncertainty that accompanies the news of organ rejection. Unfortunately, Mark began dialysis while the search was once again underway for a new donor. Luckily, a family friend stepped forward and Mark received a second successful kidney transplant in November 2018.  

Sandy’s own experiences have motivated her to give back. Joining the TRFBC Board of Directors as treasurer back in 2017 was a perfect fit for Sandy. She was able to put her accounting expertise to use and contribute to an organization that shares her vision for the future – make transplantation a cure, not just a treatment. Through research, Sandy envisions a future where organs can be engineered to ensure better matching and allocation, resulting in a transplant that lasts a recipient’s lifetime. Helping raise awareness and funds for local transplant research is one small way Sandy is doing her part to improve transplantation for all British Columbia. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Transplant Research Foundation of BC or if you have time and talent to offer, we would be happy to talk about your potential future on our Board. You can reach us at newlife@trfbc.org