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26 November, 2010


Wonderful story by equally wonderful daughter
I have written several stories about the Martin family, originally of rural Turnerville and nearby Dresden, none of which equal the poignancy of the following article appearing in the Fall 2010 issue of the Kidney Living Magazine, a Kidney Foundation of Canada publication.  It is a story that could be told only through the emotions and selflessness of Beth Martin, daughter of Lynn and Sandy Martin of Chatham. 

 live related donor
The youngest of five boys, Uncle Art was born with kidney disease. As you can imagine, in 1942, kidney disease was not understood  and there were no treatment options for someone with a kidney disease diagnosis.  They did not have the benefits of the successful research we have today.  In fact, the kidney Disease Foundation of Canada would not be established for another 22 years.


Dialysis certainly wasn't an option here in Ontario, so my grandparents were told to take their son home with the expectation that he would probably not live to see his 10th birthday.

When Uncle Art learned of his kidney disease, he refused to allow it to make a difference in his life.  He got into the same amount of trouble as his older brothers and defied it by playing hockey -- and he became an amazing goalie.

In 1962 -- still with no Kidney Foundation in sight -- Uncle Art's kidney disease took a drastic turn.  He had outlived the doctor's original prognosis and was now 20 years old.  Still keeping his health condition to himself, he collapsed on the ice during a hockey game.  Dialysis was still not readily available in Canada and the treatment consisted of draining the toxins from his kidneys -- an extremely painful procedure.  The next plan was to take him to Boston to undergo dialysis on a machine that was larger than some buildings.

Unfortunately, Uncle Art passed away the morning he was scheduled to leave for dialysis.  He had a great future ahead of him as a talented hockey player and an even more talented singer.  His future was taken away from him because of the limited knowledge of kidney disease.

Twenty years later, the words "kidney disease" were once again part of our life.  The year was 1980 and my dad, Lynn, now faced a diagnosis of kidney failure.  New awareness and research into kidney disease changed the outcome for my dad.  His specialists put him on an experimental drug to slow down the progress of his renal failure -- and it worked!  For many years, dad's disease was manageable without any drastic interventions.  Then about 10 years ago his kidneys decided they just couldn't do it anymore and he was presented with dialysis treatment options -- options that my Uncle Art did not have available to him all those years ago.

Dad was actually able to dialyze in the comfort of his own home, a procedure that allowed him to maintain his quality of life by continuing to frequent hockey arenas and golf courses.  You can imagine how grateful we are for the strides made in kidney disease research, dialysis advances and stellar nephrologists, compared to what my grandparents faced all those years ago.

In 2006, after three years on peritoneal dialysis, Dad underwent successful transplant surgery and today he continues to lead a full life.

I felt it was important to share this story as it spans decades of one family's journey alongside the journey of the Kidney Foundation.  The impact of his research in chronic kidney disease has literally saved my dad.  It is a "luxury" if you will, that my Uncle Art did not have all those years ago.

Our story paints a portrait of success, not only for our family, but for all those facing kidney disease today.  The advances in prevention and the ability to delay the onset of an end stage renal failure, the opportunities kidney patients have to choose dialysis methods that best fit their needs and lifestyle, can all be attributed to leading edge kidney research.  From our family to yours, thank you for your support to the Kidney Foundation (of Canada).  Research does make a difference!

NOTE:  In her story, Beth omits a very important factor in her father's recovery after his kidney transplant.  God bless her, she was the donor of that kidney.

"I am very proud of her for writing the story," commented Lynn in a note to me yesterday.  Beth's Uncle Art and her late grandparents, Grace and Jack Martin, would be very proud too -- and eternally thankful.

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