Following COVID-19 surgery delays, and a billboard campaign to find a donor, a Calgary man now has a new kidney after two years of waiting.
In September, Dave Mathers was in a hospital gown ready for his kidney transplant at Foothills Medical Centre. Mathers has a rare kidney disease that can cause organ failure.
“Then all of a sudden the surgeon walked in … He said ‘unfortunately not the fault of you or your donor we have to cancel, the ICU rooms are overrun.’ And I had to check out,” Mathers told the Calgary Eyeopener.
The surgical backlog created by the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and influx of sick patients in Alberta delayed the process, which had started years ago.
Mathers’ wife applied to be an organ donor in 2019, but wasn’t eligible. Neither was his daughter. So the family took the search wider.
“At some point we decided that we were going to try to advertise, put a Facebook page together, do whatever we could.”
“We knew we needed one to ultimately live.”
The family ended up putting up several billboards around the city in August and September of 2020.
That’s when his eventual donor, Nancy Langlois, reached out. She signed up to be an anonymous donor after seeing a billboard that said “Dave needs a kidney.”
“It said, O-positive, and I was like, ‘oh, I guess that’s me.’ So as soon as I got home, I called,” Langlois said.
She said she donated “because I could.”
The two first met at the hospital, and though Langlois knew nothing about Mathers when she signed up to be his donor, they have a lot in common.
“We both worked downtown for oil and gas, we’re both super active here. He was a marathoner. I was a marathoner, a hiker,” she said.
“But it didn’t matter. It was just kind of nice that when we did meet that we had stuff in common and then we liked each other.”
Mathers finally got his kidney from Langlois in November, and will mark one month post-operation on Friday.
Mathers says he’s feeling great and he celebrated by walking seven kilometres this week.