‘Don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney’: B.C. women share transplant journey

Langley’s Reema Garcha donated her kidney to her sister Binn Johal in 2018

Reema Garcha (left) donated a kidney to her sister Binn Johal last year. Submitted photo

According to BC Transplant, 502 lives were saved in 2018 by organ donation, and this February marks the one-year anniversary of a life-saving kidney donation that came from Langley.

Last year, Willoughby’s Reema Garcha underwent a live kidney transplant to donate the organ to her older sister Binn Johal who lives in North Delta.

Ten years ago, when she was 36, Johal was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Vasculitus. Over time, the condition worsened and eventually Johal developed kidney disease.

And then in 2017, Johal’s doctor suggested she begin searching for a kidney donor.

“I always knew I was going to need a kidney, I just didn’t know when. And she [Garcha] always used to say to me ‘don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney,’” explained Johal.

READ MORE: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

After Johal’s family underwent a thorough testing process, it was revealed that Garcha was the only match.

“I was so excited. It was like living a life with purpose – to be able to know you can save your sister’s life. I didn’t feel scared at all to be honest, and I’ve got two young children as well. It was all about doing the right thing and being so thankful that I was a match,” said Garcha.

The two women went for surgery on Feb. 26, 2018, at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, and both agreed it was an “amazing” experience with attentive staff.

They are both in good health now, and Johal added, “I feel so much better, [have] way more energy, and I can eat food I couldn’t eat before.”

Garcha said she feels no different with one less kidney, and is “functioning perfectly.”

“I’d never know the difference,” she added.

Before moving to the Lower Mainland in their late teens, Garcha and Johal grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

Garcha, who is five years younger than Johal, said the age gap meant they “wern’t super close growing up,” but over time and into adulthood, the sisters developed “a very powerful bond.”

“Now knowing I was able to do this for her, and there’s been no indication of rejection, it’s a great feeling. If I had another kidney to donate, even to a random stranger, I would,” added Garcha.

According to Garcha, Johal’s kidney is the second transplant in their family, as years ago, a cousin received a heart transplant.

“We’re very appreciative of the whole donation side of things” Garcha said.

“I don’t want to be buried with any organ in my life. The purpose once I’m passed is to give life to others.”

Johal said her and Garcha are going to volunteer with The Kidney Foundation to “raise awareness and give back to the community.”

“I’m fortunate enough to get a kidney. A lot of people are not. To be on dialysis is not a good thing, some people don’t make it waiting and the quality of life is just deteriorating as you’re waiting,” explained Johal.

The 502 lives saved by organ donation in B.C. this year set a new record for total number of transplants in a calendar year.

“I’m proud to celebrate the selfless act of donation from so many British Columbians,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This record number of transplants is a testament to the spirit of our residents, who gave the greatest gift of all last year—the chance at a new life for others.”

In addition to an overall organ record, a kidney transplant milestone was also reached in 2018 with 339 transplants, including 100 living donors like Garcha.

For more information on organ donation in B.C., visit Transplant BC’s website.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Chemainus artist’s painting of a front-line worker a powerful image

Chemainus artist puts her creative touch to COVID Angel

Drivesmart column: Traffic calming in your neighbourhood

Since the police are only part of the solution, what are the alternatives?

COVID-19 means different graduations for Cowichan students in 2020

At Lake Cowichan students did the traditional hat toss

Mary Lowther column: Pre-sprouting corn in paper towels

My new packet of spinach didn’t grow when I put the seeds directly into potting soil

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Most Read