Jeff Robertson, the Executive Director of the PKD Foundation of Canada, is marking Canada's National Kidney Month by giving a free presentation in Hamilton on March 17 about living organ donation and how to have conversations about the process. He will also provide insights on how to help raise awareness of the need for living kidney donation, including tips on how to share your personal story with friends, family and the media. His presentation is part of an ongoing series of two-hour informational support meetings hosted by the Hamilton Chapter of the PKD Foundation of Canada.
Before taking on the role of Executive Director in 2008, Jeff was actively involved with the PKD Foundation of Canada as both Chapter and Walk Coordinator for Toronto. He continues to be the volunteer Toronto Walk Coordinator.
"Polycystic Kidney Disease is one of the most common life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting more people than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia and sickle cell anemia combined," said Hamilton Chapter Coordinator, Shiona Mackenzie-Morrison. "More than 600,000 Americans and 12.5 million newborns, children and adults worldwide struggle with PKD every day. Nevertheless, PKD is still relatively unfamiliar to the general public and that is why it is so vital to raise awareness."
With PKD, cysts gradually develop on the kidneys, then grow and multiply, causing the kidney to increase in size. Although a normal kidney is roughly the size of a human fist, PKD kidneys can grow to be the size of a football or larger and weigh as much as 38 pounds each. Other organs, such as the liver, also can be involved in PKD. About 50 per cent of people with PKD will develop kidney failure by the age of 50 and be forced to depend on dialysis or a transplant to live.
Growing up in a family affected by PKD (both his mother and grandmother have the disease), Robertson learned at a very young age the importance of advocacy and sharing one's PKD journey with friends, family and the media in order to generate as much attention as possible for PKD and organ donation awareness.
A single organ donor can save up to eight lives.
According to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, only about 23% of people in Ontario are registered organ donors. Confusion remains over the old method of signing a driver's license. That has been obsolete for some time, but many people incorrectly believe they are registered because they signed and carry a donor card.
March is National Kidney Month. The PKD Foundation of Canada is encouraging people to register online to donate organs and tissue at beadonor.ca.
More information about PKD is available on the PKD Foundation of Canada website: www.endpkd.ca.