A neighbourly trade of a lifetime

By Dale Bass

Kamloops This Week

It may seem like some far-fetched Grey’s Anatomy plot, but this one is true.

On May 2, six operating rooms at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver were occupied at the same time to remove three kidneys from donors and put them into three other people who need the organs desperately.

Two of those people were from Kamloops, although one had been a resident of Barriere for many years before moving to Kamloops.

Tracey Louvros started the long process to determine suitability just to help her neighbour, Dave Kozoris (originally from Barriere).

She had always hoped it would be simple; she would be a match for Dave, they would head into the hospital and, just like neighbours share cups of sugar, she’d share one of her kidneys.

It wasn’t to be, however, so the two were thrown into the mix in what will become almost like a domino procedure.

Three kidneys were removed.

Tracey’s went into one of the recipients and Dave received one of the other two donor kidneys.

The couple doesn’t know who the other four people are — but it doesn’t matter.

All that was important at the time was getting it done.

They got the call earlier this month and were given May 2 as the tentative date and to be ready to go.

“The biggest holdup was they needed six operating rooms at the same time,” Dave said. “The logistics are quite a feat.”

The surgeries will take a couple of hours, said Dave prior to the surgery, and, while Tracey’s recovery is expected to just take about six weeks, Dave has to stay in Vancouver for a couple of months, at least, so medical staff can monitor him and watch for organ rejection.

That’s going to be a bit of a challenge since he has no place to stay and is looking at motels near the hospital because he has to be within a 15-minute drive to St. Paul’s in downtown Vancouver.

Insurance doesn’t cover accommodation, but Dave and his wife, Betty, don’t care.

They will find a way to make it work because they just want the transplant and an end to the more than four years of dialysis Dave has had to live with, the last three using equipment in his house.

Dave has no kidneys. They were removed last year, the inevitable result of polycystic kidney disease that meant the organs filled with grape-shaped growths, shoving his other organs out of position.

When the kidneys were removed, one weighed 20 pounds; the other was seven pounds. Healthy kidneys rarely weigh more than four ounces.

It’s been a long haul for Tracey and Dave.

In addition to loads of paperwork, Tracey’s medical history had to be studied and she had to ensure her body was not only healthy, but at a specific body-mass index level.

There have been dozens and dozens of vials of blood taken out and plenty of other medical procedures, all to ensure she and her kidney are healthy when the first incision was made.

Before the surgery they both agreed they were not worried.  Both were just excited to see this path they’ve shared coming to an end.

“I’m just as excited as can be,” Dave said.

“It’s gonna be great.”

*Editor’s note:  The surgery took place as scheduled, and the most recent update received says Tracey’s doing fine, but in a lot of pain. Dave’s still recovering and in the hospital but all looks good so far, although there is still a rejection chance for Dave right now.