MEDICINE HAT, AB - At just 16-years-old, Brittany Patzer was a happy, healthy teen like any other in Medicine Hat.
She then went for her first physical and that is when her doctor told her something was wrong.
"I found out I had kidney failure," explained Patzer. "They noticed my levels were off and my kidneys were functioning at twelve per cent. A few months later, I started dialysis in grade twelve."
Shortly after graduation, Brittany received the gift of life from a deceased donor who was only 18-months-old.
"I got a transplant which was obviously super awesome."
But, within the first six-months of receiving her transplant, Brittany was dealt a setback.
"I got really sick with the flu and I was hospitalized and it just started the rejection of the kidneys and unfortunately, they couldn't reverse it. So, over the next three-years, it progressively got worse and worse, which is unfortunate, but it can happen."
And just three-years after receiving the transplant, Brittany was back on dialysis.
Fast forward six-years later to 2019 and Brittany is now on a Canada-wide transplant list.
"I'm on the Canada-wide list because I'm a really hard match. I have a lot of antibodies that reject a lot of the population and there are quite a few people on the Canada-wide list, which is nice because it opens up a whole-new pool of people that can possibly be a donor towards you."
Unfortunately, she's not sure how long it will be until she finds a match though.
"It's hard to say what the chances are because you want to find a kidney that's a good enough match that's going to last for awhile and not going to reject. You just have to find that right person."
Laura Fleming with the Kidney Foundation says there are hundreds of people like Patzer across Canada waiting for a transplant.
Making it important for people to think about donating their organs if they're healthy enough.
"Well, it's a huge process to go through," explained Fleming. "But, it's a matter of people signing up and if you want to be a living donor, you have to go through all the battery of tests and then we take it from there. Sign your donor cards, talk to your family and help save lives."
Which is something Patzer agrees with.
"If your family doesn't know what your wishes are, make sure that they do," explained Patzer. "I know it's hard to have that conversation of 'what if the worst happens?' But, it would help so many people if they knew you wanted to be a donor because if they don't, how could you fulfill your last wish?"
She then stated that it's important for people of all ages to get checked for kidney disease.
"It's really easy to get checked out. I mean, if you're at your doctor and they're doing blood-work anyways, all you gotta do is say 'hey, check my creatinine,' which is your kidney level. It's super easy and then you can know because most of the time kidney failure doesn't happen over night. It's progressive and they can do things that make it slower or try to reverse it, keeping you healthier for longer."
While she waits for a match, Patzer says she is focused on living her best possible life.
"I work at Moxies as a server. I was in school, but I'm taking a break right now. I'd go to the college, go to my classes and do some homework. Sometimes I'm a little more tired than normal, but like I said, it's just part of my daily routine."
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