(Stittsville resident Eileen Winters hold a photo of her sister, Sheila Hambrooke, to whom Eileen gifted one of her kidneys in 2004.)
Stittsville resident, Eileen Winters, knows firsthand the importance of donating to the Kidney Foundation. We sat down with Eileen to hear her story. Her sister had been battling kidney disease starting in 2003. Eileen’s sister, Sheila Hambrooke, was an energetic registered nurse who fund raised and volunteered with the Kidney Foundation in Edmonton, Alberta. Even as Sheila received daily dialysis treatment, she continued to carry on her duties as a nurse. But her life would soon change.
In 2004, Sheila needed a kidney transplant immediately. Eileen had started to complete kidney tests from August to September of 2003 knowing this day may come. Through the testing, it was discovered that Eileen’s kidney was 80% compatible – good for a transplant. At the time, Eileen worked in the office at Granite Ridge Nursing Home – where she also volunteered in her off hours. The Granite Ridge staff were outstandingly supportive of Eileen in her endeavour to save her sister. That day arrived in 2004. She traveled to Edmonton to donate the life-saving kidney to her sister Sheila.
The costs associated with transplants is exorbitant. The family reached out to both the Kidney and University Foundations for support. In 2004, a kidney transplant cost $50K just for provincial health care costs, in addition to travel, accommodation, life-long medications and other necessary expenses. Today, the Kidney Foundation provides the needed financial support to those families who can’t afford the costs.
One statement that Eileen made and stood out during our talk, “we are born with two kidneys for a reason and that is to save another person’s life. We can survive on one kidney and I am so pleased that I was able to gift my kidney to my own sister to give her a longer and more fulfilling life”.
Today, Eileen lives a healthy life with just one kidney and is grateful her kidney was a match and provided good health to her beloved sister, Sheila. Eileen’s gift helped to bring love and meaning to the life of Sheila for an additional twelve years.
Eileen continues to be extremely supportive of patients awaiting a transplant and to those who donate a kidney. She wants everyone to be made aware of the importance of donating to the Kidney Foundation and the work they do. You can also support the Kidney Foundation by participating in the upcoming Kidney Walk being held on September 27, 2020. Eileen encourages Stittsville residents to register for the virtual walk at www.kidneywalk.ca and walk alongside her virtually – help save someone’s life.