Elora Couple’s Unique Journey: Love Story Fueled by Kidney Donation

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In the small town of Elora, a tale of love, sacrifice, and endurance unfolds. A local couple, bound not only by shared affection but also by matching incisions, recounts their extraordinary journey. Emma Smith, in a true testament of selflessness, agreed to give her kidney to her then-freshly beloved, Ben Doerksen, in November 2022. Their scarcely believable story stretches medical probabilities, yet their shared experience is palpable.

Doerksen, reflecting on their journey at 33 years old, still finds it hard to fathom what he terms as a “surreal” experience. His life was saved, thanks to Smith’s daunting decision to donate her kidney, a decision she boldly asserts she would take once more without hesitation.

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Ironically, their bond began morphing into this unique form in spring 2021, when news of Doerksen’s kidney disease first surfaced. This grave tidings manifested after an initial hospitalization for symptoms pinpointing imminent kidney failure, kick-starting dialysis by August. Later that year, the twosome met at a Halloween party, setting the stage for an extraordinary love story. Shortly thereafter, their relationship flourished, even as the stark reality of Doerksen’s health loomed.

Undeterred, Smith committed to a series of complex medical tests to ascertain her compatibility as a kidney donor. Working through a myriad of doctor’s appointments and tests, it wasn’t until October 2022 that Smith was confirmed as a suitable kidney match for Doerksen. The life-saving surgical procedure was promptly scheduled for November 16.

Their combined strength was matched by the unflagging support from their network of family and friends. Reflecting on their experience, the couple affirmed that their support systems were “unrivalled,” standing firmly in their corner throughout the medical ordeal.

Today, a year has passed, and the couple are now vocal advocates for organ donation. Doerksen believes that their story is one that could inspire others, potentially nudging a single individual to tick the donor box on their health card, or even consider an anonymous donation.

According to data from beadonor.ca, around 1,400 individuals in Ontario are waiting for an organ transplant, with only slightly more than a quarter of the population registered as donors. The organization aims for 130,000 new sign-ups by next March.

Looking to the future with optimism, Smith and Doerksen not only share in the trauma of a life-altering medical experience but also the road to recovery and advocacy. They, along with their family and friends, are registered to participate in the Kidney Walk on October 1 in Guelph, a fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation of Canada. The walk commences at 10:00 a.m. from the Guelph Golf and Country Club, symbolizing a step forward in the fight against kidney disease, embarked upon by a couple whose distinct shared journey fuels their determination to make a difference.