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Two Island women feel strong connection following kidney transplants

Annie MacDonald, left, of Rustico and Kim Moncion of Charlottetown are grateful for a new lease on life after receiving kidney transplants last year with the organs coming from the same young body.
Annie MacDonald, left, of Rustico and Kim Moncion of Charlottetown are grateful for a new lease on life after receiving kidney transplants last year with the organs coming from the same young body. - Jim Day

Annie MacDonald and Kim Moncion are profoundly connected through a person they will never meet.

They both received a much-needed kidney transplant on the same day and in the same hospital. Most notably, though, the gift of life came from the body of the same young deceased person.

MacDonald, 31, of Rustico and Moncion, 49, of Charlottetown met for the first time on Aug. 18, 2017, just one day after they both underwent successful kidney transplant surgery in Halifax.

The unique bond that quickly developed is difficult for either to explain. They have tried many times.

“I mean it’s a whole bunch of things combined into one,’’ said MacDonald.

“It’s nice to have that person…we have each other and we can help each other through (difficulties). Some days are hard. Some days are happy.’’

The pair have grown into a two-person support group. They turn to each other to discuss their health and to deal with at times heavy emotions.

The one-year anniversary of their life-changing transplants hit them both hard.

The day, they both felt strongly, was a time to show respect, not joy.

They were not losing sight that the anniversary of receiving a new lease on life also marked one year since a family lost a loved one.

Survivor’s guilt set in. They took time to mourn.

“I didn’t feel like it was okay to be happy and I didn’t want people to feel happy for me that day, as weird as that sounds,’’ said MacDonald.

MacDonald would like that heartbroken family to know not a single day goes by without her thinking gratefully and respectfully of the late young person responsible for her renewed health.

She never takes the precious gift for granted.

“I mean it’s amazing that someone gave us this gift,’’ she said.

For MacDonald, a healthy kidney has meant an end to being sick, tired and weak. For years, an auto-immune disease had her enduring poor health.

For four years, she waited anxiously for a kidney transplant.

Her health with the donated organ has been simply amazing.

“I’m pretty much back to normal,’’ said MacDonald, thrilled to be a healthy mother to her son and to be working with renewed vigour as an associate at Invesco, an investment management firm.

A new kidney is also proving a welcome tonic for Moncion who was regularly left exhausted from polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder resulting in the development and growth of multiple cysts within the kidney.

“After many years of living with insecurity every day about my health and worrying about what my future would hold or if I had one, the donation of a kidney was the best event in my life for both myself and my family,’’ she said.

Both Moncion, who works as a senior lead with the Canadian regional airline Jazz, and MacDonald volunteer for the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Atlantic branch.

Naturally, they also are strong advocates of organ donation.

MacDonald and Moncion will be taking part in the annual Kidney Walk in September which raises awareness and funds to help patients and their families going through the challenges of kidney disease causes.

“Funds raised through our Kidney Walks will help support the one in 10 Canadians who are affected by kidney disease,’’ said branch development coordinator Marlene Dorey.

“But, as anyone who has been personally affected can attest, prevention, education, and treatment methods can still be vastly improved. Unfortunately, the rate of people with kidney disease continues to grow at an alarming rate, and there is an urgent need to do more.’’

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