Wife’s kidney to benefit husband and medical community

For her husband Brett’s birthday, Vivian Ogino will be giving a gift straight from the heart – well actually, the abdominal region.

The couple are preparing for the big day ahead. Not March 22, when Sicamous’ fire chief celebrates his birthday, but March 28, when the two will be at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver under the knife. Vivian is donating one of her kidneys to Brett, whose own kidney is gradually failing due to an inherited defect.

Though the Oginos admit to being a bit nervous about the impending surgeries, they have some peace of mind knowing that Brett’s brother has successfully undergone a similar operation.

“Having a brother who has gone through it, it’s not as scary because he’s had a successful operation and he’s doing very well,” said Brett. “I’m hoping in a week or so I’ll be up and about after the surgery. That was the situation with my brother.”

While recovery may be quick for both Brett and Vivian, Brett is required to stay in Vancouver for about two months to make sure his body doesn’t reject the organ. Even with this, the Oginos have a positive outlook knowing that anti-rejection mediation has come a long way in a short time.

“The first kidney transplant was done 50 years ago, and it was between identical twins – that was the only way they would do it because they had to be such a close match, and even then, your body wants to reject something that’s been put into it,” says Vivian, who in a short time has been well-educated in the surgical procedure. “They go through a lot of testing… They’re doing it right up to the last minute, making sure his antibodies aren’t going to reject my organ, and they’re pretty darn sure the drugs that they have are going to work.”

With a successful surgery, Brett can expect to be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. To Vivan, this is far better than Brett being on dialysis.

“Dialysis is just nasty, it’s not fun at all,” she says. “His brother went through it for three years. It’s better than just surviving, but it’s not a hell of a lot of fun because of the time involved and the toll it takes on your body and your organs and everything else.”

Vivian’s donation will also benefit the medical community, as she has volunteered to take part in a long-term medical study on living kidney donors.

“They need studies done on the long-term effects of being a donor, so I said ‘sure, sign me up,’” said Vivian.

Given the time off required, Brett says he is thankful to the district and to Sicamous firefighters, whose capable hands the department will be left in. He and Vivian are also grateful for the generosity of Brett’s employer, Pacific CoastCom, and boss, who offered to pay for the Ogino’s accommodations in Vancouver.

“He’s a really good guy, and we were shocked when he called up and said he would pay for the accommodation…,” said Vivian, adding she and Brett have been able to find a place within five blocks from the hospital. “It’s like everything just fell into place.”

The Oginos plan to be back home in Sicamous some time in June.