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Sudbury native's life changed thanks to kidney donation

She'd been on the kidney transplant wait list for nearly seven years when she received the call that a kidney from a deceased donor was available.
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Former Sudbury woman Bobbie-Lynn Burton, 30, received a kidney transplant at Ottawa General Hospital in May, and is now doing great. She said she wants to encourage people in her hometown to sign up as organ donors. Supplied photo.
She'd been on the kidney transplant wait list for nearly seven years when she received the call that a kidney from a deceased donor was available.

It's now been three months since her May 27 surgery at Ottawa General Hospital, and Burton says she's doing great, although her recovery has taken awhile.

She has much more energy than she ever did while on dialysis, her skin is now pink, and she's able to eat high-potassium foods such as tomatoes and spinach previously banned from her diet because of her condition.

Burton, who grew up in Sudbury, but has been living in Ottawa for more than a decade, said she hopes to return to her job as a government business analyst this month.

She said she has no idea who donated the kidney now implanted in her body, and isn't sure she wants to know.

But Burton did want to thank the donor's family, and so two months after her transplant, she wrote them a letter.

“I pretty much just said thank you, and sorry for the loss of your loved one, and told them just how well I've been doing, how long I've had kidney failure, and how this has changed my life,” Burton said.

As much as her life has changed thanks to the kidney implant, Burton said she was scared going into the procedure.

And no wonder — her mom, Danuta Burton of Sudbury, also had a kidney transplant in 2006, but had to go back on dialysis immediately because her body rejected the organ.

Danuta, whose kidneys failed as a result of Type 1 diabetes complications, passed away in 2012 at the age of 57.

“You don't know what's going to happen (with kidney transplants),” Burton said. “There's always a risk of what they call a sleepy kidney, where it takes awhile to start and you still have to have dialysis. The worst fear is your body rejecting it right away.”

Having now received a transplant, Burton is still active in trying to boost donor rates, volunteering with the Ontario Trillium Gift of Life Network.

Thanks to the efforts of Sudbury's Irish Heritage Club, which promotes organ donation, the city already has some of Ontario's highest organ donor rates.

In December 2013, around 46 per cent of Sudburians were registered with the province's organ donor list. In contrast, only 16 per cent of Toronto residents are registered with the provincial organ donor list.

“You're saving someone's life, essentially,” Burton said. “If you can do one thing in your life, when you go, leave your legacy, and let someone else continue on with their life. I think that's very, very important.”

To register as an organ donor, visit beadonor.ca.

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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