Joanne Drodge and Randy Haatvedt personify what Kidney March is all about. Both Kidney March veterans, Joanne and Randy could write the book about going the extra mile – literally and figuratively.
A retired IT Consultant, Randy donated his kidney to his friend Pat in 2012. A long-time client at Pat’s shoe shine business in downtown Calgary, Randy watched his friend of 20 years working hard every day, even though it was clear Pat was getting progressively worse. Randy did some internet research and without a word to Pat, called Pat’s doctor to see how he could help. Randy had hoped to do the transplant work-up anonymously so as not to get Pat’s hopes up if he wasn’t a match – but protocol would not allow that, and once he told Pat of his intentions, the two friends started “knocking over the obstacles one at a time.” “It was an amazing experience,” Randy says, “From the time I made that first call, I had a good feeling – we both did. In fact, if I had another kidney to give, I’d do it all again.”
Joanne Drodge’s story is similarly remarkable. She first learned about kidney disease when her nephew, Bryan, was born with it. Now 21, Bryan has had two transplants, and is on the list for a third in Halifax. Although Joanne is not a match for her nephew, she’s looking into the paired donor exchange program, and has begun kidney donor testing so that she can donate to someone else. “At my young age,” she says, tongue-in-cheek, “time is ticking, so I need to move now if I am going to do this.” Despite her nephew’s experience, Joanne had no idea until she walked in Kidney March 2015 that kidney disease was so prevalent and devastating. “Awareness is critical when it comes to kidney disease – people need to understand, it could easily be them,” she says.