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A kidney from the boss


March 4, 2015
By Elvin Klassen

by Elvin Klassen

“There are no words to express the amount of gratitude I have,” exclaimed Abbotsford Police Department (APD)Detective Roy McBeth. “You can’t put a monetary value on it. It is like someone has won the lottery and given me the cheque.”

Inspector Kevin Wright gave McBeth a new kidney in January. Both are now home from St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and doing well.

“I looked and looked for a card but there just isn’t a card for someone donating a kidney,” noted McBeth. “I have thought long and hard. Insp. Wright and his family are remarkable and loving people and I will forever be grateful.”

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McBeth began his policing career with the APD in 2004 and has faced many work related challenges on the path to his current assignment as a domestic violence unit detective. He has also challenged himself as an athlete and competitive cyclist but his greatest challenge had little to do with his career or athletics.

The polycystic kidney disease (PKD) which was diagnosed in his youth had created a medical emergency. The condition is characterized by numerous fluid-filled cysts, resulting in massive enlargement of the kidneys and eventually progressing to kidney failure.

McBeth’s grandmother died of the condition in her late 30s and his dad passed away in 2010 at age 63 after 15 years of dialysis. He has a 12-year-old son who has also been diagnosed with PKD.

McBeth has maintained his health through the years as a competitive cyclist, sometimes participating in triathlons. “There is no treatment other than living a healthy life and diet as well as monitoring my blood pressure,” he explained.

He first began noticing signs of PKD about two years ago, when he was becoming increasingly fatigued and finding it more difficult to exercise. His health has been monitored more closely since and had reached the point where his kidneys were functioning at only a small portion of normal capacity.

McBeth was either facing dialysis, a process that removes waste and excess water from the blood and must be performed four or five hours every second day, or a kidney transplant.

His family members could not donate due to their history of PKD. His wife Anne was not a match, nor were some of her family members, so McBeth began reaching out to friends and co-workers. A letter sent through the police union advised fellow officers of his need, resulting in several people coming forward, mainly through the APD.

The search for a live kidney donor resulted in several friends and co-workers being tested, and Wright, then 51, turned out to be the best match. He said he agreed to donate his kidney after realizing that he could still live a productive, healthy, normal life while helping someone else.

“It’s something I could do for him and his family to help him out,” said Wright, “and it’s not going to affect me negatively in the long run so I figured it’s just something I wanted to do for him.”

McBeth said the improvement in his health after the transplant “has been remarkable! Prior to the surgery I was functioning with eight per cent kidney function and, as a result, I was suffering from many negative symptoms, including extreme fatigue, nausea, bloating, sensitivity to cold, loss of appetite, cramping and lack of sleep, to name a few…

“Since the removal of my native kidneys and the transplant all of these symptoms have disappeared. I began to improve dramatically immediately after surgery! I was fortunate to maintain some health and fitness prior to the procedure and this proved to be instrumental in my recovery, as I was only hospitalized for five days.

“Upon returning home I was able to perform routine errands, being mindful initially not to lift anything too heavy for three weeks. I have continued to improve and as I recover from the procedure I am able to do more and get back to more of a regular routine. I anticipate being able to return to work in approximately 8-9 weeks after surgery and should be back to full function by this time.”

Beyond the positive impact this procedure has on his own life, McBeth and Wright also see the experience as an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for live organ donors. Right now there are several hundred people in each province waiting for kidney transplants.

“I just don’t think the general public is aware that really anyone can be tested and help if they’re a match”, said McBeth.

Information about financial assistance for those planning to donate is available at
http://www.livingdonorassistance.org. More information about the kidney foundation is available at
http://www.kidney.ca with provincial web connections on the same page.

After their recovery, the two men and Wright’s wife Elly plan on running a half Ironman relay together in Penticton in August to promote the Living Organ Program.

Depending on his recovery, McBeth said his goal is to return to Hawaii with his wife in October to compete again in the off-road world championships for triathlon.

Wright said he spent three nights in hospital after the surgery. “Since then my health has been improving steadily. I anticipate being back at work after about eight weeks. It is all worth it to see the improvement in Roy and to see how happy his family is.” The two families have become very close through the experience and are very supportive of each other.

“Kevin and Roy are great police officers and amazing people,” said C/Cst. Bob Rich. “Roy’s strength and determination through medical challenges and Kevin’s generosity and selflessness with organ donation is an inspiration to us all. When Roy’s need became known to his co-workers, a number of members immediately volunteered to be tested. I was just amazed at the response.

“In this profession, we put our lives on the line to protect others. When it came to helping a colleague, our members instinctively did what they always do, put themselves on the line to save a life. I couldn’t be more proud or in awe of the people working here.”

“I truly cannot convey what this has meant to me and my family,” said McBeth. “It has given me the opportunity to continue working and being productive, the opportunity to enjoy vacations and family milestones, and quite possibly the opportunity to live another 25 years or more before needing dialysis. It is truly a life saving gift.”

Abbotsford is situated in the Lower Mainland between the International Boundary and the Fraser River next to Greater Vancouver and is home to about 175,000 people.

The APD, with the theme “Protecting with Pride”, is the third largest police organization in BC, with about 217 officers, 100 civilian staff and 80 volunteers.


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