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A beautiful testimony about kidney failure and organ donation

Late 80s, early 90s. A bucolic village nestled in the Chaudière Valley. In a house next to the valley’s stunning river of the same name lived a young married couple with all their hopes and dreams and a long, beautiful life ahead of them.

And the couple had four children, four adorable bundles of joy, who, like all babies, cried out the moment they were born, announcing their joy to be alive and their trust in the adventure that awaited them and in those who held them lovingly in the crook of their arms.

Unfortunately, the three youngest quickly came to know more illness than most children do in a lifetime. Their mother cared for them day and night, doing everything in her power to help them. Simple viruses that most children catch early on and recover from became veritable nightmares for this family. Their illnesses came in rapid succession, and each time, recovery was long in coming.

Their father worked day in and day out to put a roof over their heads and food on their plates, and above all, to help them get better. The family sought help from many specialists. Their hospital stays in their home region and in Montreal, Quebec City and Sherbrooke grew in number. Despite their efforts, the doctors were unable to figure out what was wrong with the children. The main problem was that they had too much protein in their bodies and their kidneys were unable to break down all the creatinine in their systems. While theories abounded, the medical community was no closer to finding the root cause. But many, many moons later, an accurate diagnosis finally came—they had nephrotic syndrome. The result: a range of problems, including with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but most importantly, their kidneys were failing. The simple explanation was that a bad gene from their mother had encountered a bad gene from their father.

I am these three children’s aunt. Some 25 or 30 years later, the children have all grown up. They’ve overcome many obstacles with the help of those who have surrounded them from the time of their very first cry as they came into the world. All three were on dialysis for differing lengths of time. The two eldest ones have had kidney transplants, while the youngest has been on dialysis for six years and has been on the waiting list for quite some time. All are now either working or studying, and the eldest has set up house with his wife, enjoying a relatively normal life. However, they still have to learn to deal with and especially not reject this foreign body within them. It is a physical and mental challenge to accept this tiny organ, which, despite its size, keeps people alive...

Despite their young age, when we look into their eyes, we see experience that people with a whole lifetime behind them don’t have. Their faces reveal resilience, love and confidence. And a zest for life. But in their eyes, what stands out most to us is their incredible wisdom...

Though fewer kidney transplants took place in Quebec, the waiting list for a kidney continues to shrink

In 2018 in Quebec:

- 497 people had transplants thanks to the generosity of 210 organ donors

- 291 kidney transplants were performed, including 44 thanks to living donation

This represents a drop of 18% over 2017. These figures show that nothing is a given when it comes to organ donation and that public awareness and education efforts must continue.

Also, as at December 31, 2018, in Quebec:

- 805 people were on the waiting list for an organ; 544, or 70% of them, were awaiting a kidney.

- The waiting time dropped over 60% between 2012 and 2018, from 1,220 to 448 days.

The Foundation wishes to highlight the concerted efforts of all the stakeholders responsible for shortening the kidney transplant waiting list year after year.

All figures are sourced from 2018 Transplant Québec statistics. For more details, visit the Transplant Québec website.

World Kidney Day 2019 - Kidney Health for Everyone, Everywhere

Today is World Kidney Day, whose theme this year is “Kidney Health for Everyone, Everywhere.” According to estimates, 1 in 14 people in Quebec suffer from kidney failure and 80% of them are unaware of it. Kidney disease is not only irreversible, it is also skyrocketing, its incidence having shot up 60% in the past decade alone.

“On this World Kidney Day, our thoughts go out to the 22,000 people in Quebec who are on dialysis or in predialysis, and those who have had a transplant. Their courage and resilience, along with that of their loved ones, drive the Foundation to provide them with support and services adapted to their needs,” said Martin Munger, President of the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Because kidney disease reveals no symptoms until its advanced stages, many people are unaware they have the disease until their kidney function is so impaired that renal replacement therapy becomes a necessity. In fact, kidney function can decline to as little as 50% before symptoms appear. Currently, some 6,000 Quebecers are being treated for end-stage renal failure.

For patients requiring dialysis to survive, it causes their quality of life to decline significantly, leading to loss of health, independence, employment, social connections and especially income, not to mention the increased psychological and physiological stress it causes.

Dialysis is very demanding: patients typically need to dedicate a half-day of their time, three times a week, and that does not include travel time, especially in outlying regions where treatment centres are often further from patients’ homes. The Kidney Foundation of Canada favours home dialysis with proper support from the healthcare system for patients whose state of health and autonomy allow it, and access to dialysis in a clinical setting within a reasonable distance for the others (travel time of under three hours there and back).

Early diagnosis, prevention and a slowing of the disease’s progression are all viable options that can minimize the consequences of kidney disease on both patients and their countries. Our governments must ensure that patients have access to treatments such as home dialysis and to transplants, especially from living donors, both of which lead to significant improvements in quality of life for patients and their caregivers.

Cindy Halas, on dialysis for the past two years at the Montreal General Hospital

The World Kidney Day is an opportunity to highlight the challenging reality of dialysis, often unknown to the general public. Today we highlight Cindy’s story who has been on dialysis for 2 years.

Cindy suffers from type 2 diabetes since 2014. In June 2016, she was diagnosed with kidney disease. She had been on dialysis at the Montreal General Hospital, 3 times per week, for the past 2 years.

For quite a while now, dialysis got better than it was for Cindy. “I have more energy than I used to,” says Cindy but it is still challenging for her to find a job. She is not on the list for a kidney transplant because she still has to lose weight to be eligible.

Cindy is involved with the Foundation as a volunteer. She gives information about the programs and services offered by the Kidney Foundation of Canada to patients at the Montreal General Hospital. A great way for her to raise awareness and be present for patients who are on dialysis.

New Quebec living donation program is good news for patients with kidney disease

The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch, applauds the creation of a new provincial living kidney transplant program. It’s a great day for the 519 patients waiting for a kidney transplant in Quebec[1].

The new Quebec living donation program is building on the success of a pilot project initiated upon the request of The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch. Led by Dr. Michel R. Pâquet, nephrologist at the CHUM and Chairman of the Foundation’s Organ and Tissue Donation Committee, the pilot project was an opportunity for the five kidney transplant centres in Quebec to work together on implementing best practices in living kidney transplants.

“We applaud this announcement as it is the result of years of work by The Kidney Foundation of Canada and kidney transplant centres. It’s a great day for people waiting for kidney transplants.” ▬ Martin Munger, Executive Director, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch.

A living kidney transplant is the type of renal replacement therapy that achieves the best long-term outcomes and gives the best quality of life possible to people suffering from end-stage renal disease.

“The creation of this program is excellent news. It means we will be able to inject the required resources into the healthcare system and double the number of living kidney transplants, which are about 50 per year right now.” Dr. Michel R. Pâquet, Chairman, Organ and Tissue Donation Committee, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch, and nephrologist at the CHUM.

Fifty additional kidney transplants per year will save more than $110 million in healthcare costs over a 10-year period. This is in addition to the positive impact on society and the people who will be able to resume an active lifestyle following a transplant. People who receive living kidney transplants will be removed from the waiting list for deceased kidney transplants, which will automatically reduce wait times for the other people on the list.

“The program will allow for better coordination across the transplant process and speed things up for both donors and recipients.” ▬ Sylvie Charbonneau, President, The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch, who donated one of her kidneys to her son.

Under the leadership of Dr. Michel R. Pâquet, nephrologist at the CHUM and chairman of the Organ and Tissue Donation Committee of The Kidney Foundation of Canada, Quebec Branch, the pilot project was an opportunity for the five kidney transplant centres to share their knowledge, draw on practices from outside Quebec, and develop best practices in living donations for Quebec. The Foundation would like to thank the Government of Quebec, Dr. Michel R. Pâquet and the five kidney transplant centres, without which Quebec’s living donation program would not have been possible.

[1] As of December 31, 2017

François, kidney recipient, delivers his testimony

François Forget

December 13, 2015, the day my life changed

It was like being reborn: I started living the active life I once knew. At last, I could say goodbye to dialysis. And finally, I got my quality of life back.

I am well aware that the transplant I received was an invaluable gift. I also know that you shouldn’t take your health for granted, because everything can change in a flash.

My ordeal helped me grow as a person. I now look at the world with new eyes, and I want to savour every moment of it. I’m in great shape and proud of it, and I promote health and healthy living every chance I get.

I consider myself privileged to have had a transplant. I can now be an effective spokesperson because I really believe in the need to raise public awareness about organ donation. I am living proof of the benefits of transplants.

My hopes for the future

I know what it’s like to lose your health and vitality, and to survive. I now have a healthy kidney, and I hope it lasts a long time. Overall, my health is excellent and my kidney function is very good.

I’ve been through the trials and tribulations of the disease, but since 2015, I’ve been living life to the fullest. Always have hope and never give up. I sincerely hope that every single person awaiting a kidney right now gets a transplant, because it changes everything. It’s thanks to a transplant that I got a new lease on life.

François Forget

The donor organ waiting list continues to shrink

The waiting list for a donated organ got shorter for the sixth consecutive year. On December 31, 2017, 786 people were on the list, a 40% reduction over 2011. About 70% of those on the list are awaiting a kidney.

Also, in 2017, 510 people had transplants thanks to the generosity of 182 organ donors and their families, the best performance in a decade.

On December 31, 2017, the average waiting time for a kidney transplant was 16 months, which is five months less than in 2016.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to thank and congratulate the team from Transplant Québec, donors’ families, living organ donors, volunteers and health professionals for the hard work and cooperation that helped boost the number of organ donations while shortening the waiting list and cutting transplant waiting times.

For more details, visit the Transplant Québec website.

Patient survey - Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD)
The Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to thank you for your participation in this short survey. The estimated time to complete it is approximately 5 minutes. The survey will be conducted confidentially and will respect the anonymity of respondents.
The goal behind this survey is to better understand your reality as a patient living with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and more precisely autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). The survey concentrates on three areas;
  1. The impact ADPKD has on patient quality of life
  2. The extent to which ADPKD patients, with the help of their families cope with the condition including experience with current therapies
  3. The experience that ADPKD patients who are eligible to receive Tolvaptan have had with the medication
The objective of this survey is to demonstrate that patients living with ADPKD in Quebec, may benefit from better access to other treatment options.

The data collected will be submitted to the INESSS (Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux), the provincial entity responsible for evaluating for public funding medications in Quebec.

Thank you for your time and collaboration on this initiative.

*Kindly note that the remainder of the survey will focus on autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and will be referred to as ’ADPKD’.

Volunteers rewarded for their dedication to the kidney disease cause

At the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Annual Conference, a number of prizes were awarded to outstanding volunteers whose involvement with the Foundation advances the kidney disease cause and improves the everyday lives of patients living with renal failure. Find out about all the prizes awarded to volunteers this year.

Provincial awards

The Michel Perron Award

This award recognizes a company that makes a major financial contribution, by either donating directly or organizing a fundraising campaign for the Foundation’s benefit, whether in the past year or for a number of years.

The Foundation wishes to thank the nephrologists at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital for their great generosity.

Pictured: Christina Tanguay-Dumas receiving the award on behalf of the Association des néphrologues de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec



Morty Tarder Award

In 1964, the family of young Montreal architect Morty Tarder, who died from kidney failure, laid the foundations for the very first chapter of the foundation in Montreal, which would later become The Kidney Disease Foundation of Canada.

This distinction is delivered to the chapter that has best supported The Kidney Foundation of Canada in all aspects of its mission, including fundraising and patient services, over the course of the past year.

This year’s Morty Tarder Award went to the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Chapter.

Pictured: Guy Chevrier receiving the award on behalf of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Chapter


Communications Award

This award is bestowed on a journalist, media representative or media organization in recognition of their efforts to raise The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s profile and support its public awareness mandate.

The Communications Award went to Christine, Serge and Jean-Marc Pisapia.

Pictured: Serge Pisapia receiving the award on behalf of Christine and Jean-Marc Pisapia




Financial Development Award

This award recognizes an individual, group or chapter whose efforts have significantly helped the Foundation reach or surpass its non-corporate fundraising goals.

This year’s Financial Development Award went to Roselyne Le Cours and Éric Chandonnet.

Pictured: Éric Chandonnet receiving the Financial Development Award




Jean-Jacques Bégin Award

Jean-Jacques Bégin led a number of patient services committees, both with the Eastern Townships Chapter and the Quebec Branch. His unremitting work yielded considerable improvements in patient services. Mr. Bégin passed away in 1999 after a long battle with kidney failure.

This award is given to an individual, group or chapter for their outstanding commitment to providing patients with programs and services.

The Jean-Jacques Bégin Award went to Yves N. Dubé.

Pictured: Yves N. Dubé receiving the Jean-Jacques Bégin Award


Organ Donation Award

This award is bestowed on an individual or group whose outstanding commitment to the Foundation’s programs and activities has helped promote organ and tissue donation and therefore deserves recognition.

The Organ Donation Award went to Dr. François-Xavier Caillé.

Pictured: Dr. François-Xavier Caillé receiving the Organ Donation Award




President’s Award

This award is given to an exceptional volunteer who has actively contributed to the Foundation’s mission in the past year in an out-of-the-ordinary way.

The President’s Award went to Simon Brodeur and Guy Langevin.

Pictured: Simon Brodeur and Guy Langevin receiving the President’s Award





Chapter Volunteer Award

This award is delivered by chapters to volunteers who have made remarkable contributions to the growth and development of their chapter’s activities.

Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter Award: Richard Davidson
Eastern Townships Chapter Award: Carole Paris and Guy Séguin
André Mainguy Award (Quebec City Chapter): Gilles Genest
Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec Chapter Award: André Plante







Pictured: Maurice Veillet receiving the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter Award on behalf of Richard Davidson. Christina Tanguay Dumas receiving the André Mainguy Award on behalf on Gilles Genest. Daniel Turcotte receiving the Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec Chapter Award on behalf of André Plante, and Josée Parenteau receiving the Eastern Townships Chapter Award on behalf of Carole Paris and Guy Séguin

South Shore Chapter Award: Anne-Marie Dupuy and Marie-Claude Porlier







Marcel Dufresne Award (Montreal Chapter): Monique Davignon

November 15 is National Philanthropy Day!

Created in 1986, National Philanthropy Day falls on November 15 across Canada and celebrates the remarkable generosity and dedication of businesses, organizations and people like you.

The Foundation would like to pay tribute to you, its esteemed volunteers and donors, because you help improve the lives of people in your community by giving time and money to a cause you care deeply about, kidney disease.

Philanthropy takes the form of many concrete actions carried out every day, be they simple or elaborate, which make a difference in people’s lives. It is based on the values of mutual assistance, compassion and solidarity that guide the actions people take for the benefit of others.

Your support is vital to the Foundation. Happy National Philanthropy Day!

Tribute to Jacques Yves Dupuis, a great volunteer, who passed away in October

On this National Philanthropy Day, we would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of Jacques Yves Dupuis, who passed away on October 14, 2017. Mr. Dupuis, who suffered from kidney disease and was on dialysis, first got involved with the Foundation in 2014 and worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about kidney disease.

Thanks to his dedication, we were able to hold four Kidney Walk events in Lanaudière under his guidance since 2014. Jacques Yves Dupuis was a unifier. The steering committees he created enabled him to organize lively and successful events. His talents as a communicator also saw him taking part in presentations aimed at raising awareness about kidney disease, which were given at the Repentigny branch of the Knights of Columbus.

As a great Repentignois and Launadois, and as the former Mayor of Repentigny and a 40-year member of the Club Richelieu, Mr. Dupuis was inducted into the Cercle Horace-Viau a long time ago and was honoured by the City of Repentigny, which named its aquatic centre after him.

Commitments like those of Jacques Yves Dupuis are essential, as they allow us to pursue our mission of helping people struggling with kidney disease.

Jacques Yves Dupuis’s professionalism, experience and dedication will forever remain a source of inspiration. On behalf of the Foundation’s volunteers and kidney patients across the province, we extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Johanne Berthiaume, their two children and their entire family.

Your donation’s impact

Thanks to your generous donations, The Kidney Foundation of Canada is in a position to support patients while funding research into kidney disease. Over a third of all nephrology research conducted in Canada is funded by the Foundation. The Quebec Branch alone allocates almost $1 million to research. Furthermore, thirty percent of all supported researchers are Quebecers.

Your donation makes a world of difference

In 2017, the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada invested $713,000 in patient programs and services and $790,000 in kidney disease research and national programs.

"One in 14 Quebecers, or 7% of the population, lives with some form of kidney failure"

The Kidney Foundation of Canada understands that no two patients’ situations are the same, and that everyone’s needs are different. As a result, the Foundation recognizes the need to provide both physical and psychological support to people fighting kidney disease. Thanks to you and your generous donations, the Foundation is able to deliver a range of services to patients and their loved ones, including the Living with Kidney Disease patient manual, college and university scholarships, and an emergency fund for economically disadvantaged patients.

A hemodialysis unit: coming soon to Baie-Comeau

As of next fall, Baie-Comeau residents suffering from kidney failure will have access to a new hemodialysis unit in their own city. The Kidney Foundation of Canada is delighted about this piece of news. Without your donations, the Foundation would not be able to foster government action to improve treatment conditions for kidney patients.

This centre was made possible by a million-dollar investment by Quebec’s health department, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS).

The Foundation favours home dialysis, which is an excellent option for many patients. Unfortunately, some patients are unable to enjoy the benefits of home dialysis because of their state of health. Consequently, the Foundation is looking forward to the day the Baie-Comeau centre opens its doors.

In 2017, three new dialysis units opened in the Gaspé, providing the region’s kidney patients with access to dialysis services closer to home.

And it’s thanks to your support that the Foundation can fight for patient rights.

On behalf of everyone affected by kidney failure, thank you for everything you’ve done.

Donating a life insurance policy


For a long time, I had been asking myself if there was a concrete and significant way to reaffirm my attachment to the kidney disease cause, even after I die, but one that wouldn’t cripple my budget for the coming years or one day deprive my loved ones of an inheritance.

Regardless of the various kinds of planned gifts that are available, such as testamentary donations, in cash or shares, it occurred to me that contracting a life insurance policy with The Kidney Foundation of Canada as the beneficiary would allow me to reach many of my goals, while giving the Foundation the security of knowing how much funding it will be able to rely on in the future.

In fact, the Foundation’s Planned Gifts Committee has just put together such a financial product in conjunction with Mr. Rémi Gilbert, insurance broker.

By subscribing to this kind of policy, I know that the Foundation will benefit from the capital the policy generates long after I pass on. The policy will also generate returns on top of the insured capital. Moreover, in my lifetime, the premiums I pay each year will enjoy favourable tax treatment. Not bad, eh?

If only I had known about this when I was younger, I would have made use of it much earlier.

Now, thanks to this option, I really do feel as though I’m doing something concrete to contribute to the sustainability of the Foundation’s activities, especially considering that others will surely do the same.

By choosing this course, I know that the Foundation and I will be sharing this journey for years to come and sustaining our commitment to kidney disease research, patient services and the promotion of organ donation.

Speak to your loved ones about it, because this option might just interest them, especially if you’ve been told that you don’t meet the insurability criteria. My experience with the Foundation has shown me time and time again that the people in your life can be very appreciative of the time and energy you invest in such a wonderful cause.

If you are interested in this approach, please take the time to find out more about the benefits and terms by speaking with Mr. Rémi Gilbert (450) 641-1515 ext. 233

You could also get a quote for a life insurance benefiting The Kidney Foundation of Canada by filling in this short form and we will contact you in the next business day with a quote for a life-insurance policy.

Claude Pigeon
Kidney Foundation of Canada volunteer since 1994


My name is Gui-Gabrielle Boulay Fortin and I’m 25. On October 17, 2016, I had a kidney transplant thanks to my mother, France Boulay. I’d known about my renal insufficiency since I was eight years old, though the problem has been there since I was born. I recently applied to The Kidney Foundation of Canada in the hope of receiving a scholarship so I could go to university. It was actually a very quick and simple process. Soon after they examined my application, I was told I’d receive $1,000 per term, as long as I was registered full-time and passing my courses.

You have no idea how much that money was going to help me. Because I had been recovering for a few months and was unable to work, I was fortunate enough to have this funding to help me pay my rent and cover part of my tuition fees. The scholarship took a big financial burden off my shoulders and lowered the anxiety I had been feeling because I’m on a tight student budget.

And as a 25-year-old, it was important to me that my life get back to normal and that I go back to university despite my regular follow-up visits to the kidney transplant clinic. The substantial scholarship I got from The Kidney Foundation of Canada encouraged me to keep going. In addition to being accessible, the Foundation provides people living with kidney disease the opportunity to keep studying, which helps them view life from a different angle than just their struggle with health issues. I would personally like to thank The Kidney Foundation of Canada for these scholarships. You can’t imagine how much they’ve helped me. Thank you so much!

Gui-Gabrielle Boulay Fortin


In 2016, 56 people became living kidney donors, a 10-year record according to information from the transplantation programs. Transplant Québec also noted a continuous and significant increase in the number of potential donor referrals.What this means is that Quebec hospitals referred 626 potential donors to Transplant Québec in 2016, making it the top year in terms of donor identification with an increase of over 60% since 2010. In 2016, there were 170 actual organ donors, 480 transplant recipients and 331 kidney transplants from both deceased and living donors.

The organ donation waiting list is also at its shortest in a decade. As at December 31, 2016, 841 people were registered – 423 less than in 2011 – with nearly 70% of them awaiting a kidney.

Montérégie Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention

Attended by over 120 people, the symposium on chronic kidney failure prevention was held on Friday, October 23, 2015, in the Montérégie.Its goal was to inform health professionals about chronic kidney failure. Participants included general practitioners, nurses, dieticians and pharmacists from the Montérégie’s local community health centres (CLSCs), nursing homes (CHSLDs), family clinics and medical centres.

The symposium’s objectives

Help participants understand:

  • the chronic kidney failure situation in Quebec today
  • the importance of preventing chronic kidney failure
  • kidney failure’s impact on patients, society and the economy
  • the risk factors underlying the onset of chronic kidney failure
  • the medical means available to prevent chronic kidney failure (prevention)
  • the importance of recognizing and treating the medical complications of chronic kidney failure
  • determining the right time to refer a patient for renal replacement (dialysis and transplants)

A big thanks to our guest speakers

  • Dr. Pierre Cartier, nephrologist, Saint-Jérôme Hospital
  • Dr. Olivier Diec, nephrologist, CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Sylvie Simard, nurse clinician, CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Danielle Fournier, nurse, CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Annie Zaor, pharmacist, CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Marie-Philip Lalancette, nurse clinician, CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Isabelle Nadeau, clinical nutritionist (nephrology), CISSS Montérégie-Centre
  • Brigitte Gagnon, transplant recipient (testimonial), CISSS Montérégie-Centre

We would also like to thank our partners


Testimonial by Nicole David, who is in predialysis at the Montreal General Hospital

I read with interest the article about Philippe Ouaknine (ed.: refer to the Spring 2015 Kidney Link newsletter) who has been fighting for his life for the past four years. Dialysis treatments that cause unspeakable pain and an interminable wait for a kidney transplant. Solitude and doubt, which wash over him like waves lapping at and eroding the banks of his hope. Yet he never gives up and soldiers on courageously: he is the source from which I plan to draw my strength when I have to fight my own battle.

I am a newcomer to this fight. After undergoing a nephrectomy, I had to get used to the idea of peritoneal dialysis. For the longest time, I believed that I would refuse these treatments, yet here I am at 81, confronting this hard reality. I am currently in predialysis, which is gradually preparing me for the worst and turning me into an everyday guerrilla fighter.

Fortunately, the Montreal General Hospital Dialysis Clinic is home to outstanding doctors and nurses, remarkable people who take care of us, reassure us and soothes us when we’re overcome with fear. Swaddled in this caring atmosphere, kidney patients are more likely to confront their disease with a positive attitude. To all of you who make a real difference in our lives, thank you.

Quebec City Chapter Golf Tournament: a hole in one!

The Quebec City Chapter Golf Tournament took place on June 13 at Club de golf Le Montmorency.

This 18th edition was presided over by Honorary President Fernand Dufresne, President of Preverco Inc.

A total of 108 golfers teed off that day, helping the Foundation surpass its goal and raise $31,320. The Quebec City Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to thank all the sponsors and participants who helped make it possible.

Photo caption (Left to right): André Villeneuve, member of the Organizing Committee, Fernand Dufresne, Honorary President, and André Blouin, member of the Committee, presenting the cheque to Christina Tanguay-Dumas, Quebec City Chapter President. Note that the figure on the cheque in the photo is only the estimate of the funds expected to be raised, which was lower than the $31,320 raised in the end.

Kidney Disease and Pneumococcal Infections: A Dangerous Mix!

Pneumococcus is a type of bacteria that can have serious effects on your health.

If you have a chronic kidney disease, such as renal failure, you are more likely to contract a pneumococcal infection. Each year, tens of thousands of Quebecers develop a pneumococcal infection even though there is a vaccine to prevent it.

The bacteria is most often caught through contact with the respiratory droplets (expelled into the air by coughing or sneezing or other means) of an infected person. Pneumococcal infections should not be taken lightly because they can lead to complications requiring a hospital stay or several days’ bed rest at home. The bacteria may cause infections in the lungs, meninges (the membranes surrounding the brain), or blood. Some of these infections lead to permanent health effects like deafness or brain damage and can even result in death. Most cases involve very young children (under age 5) or elderly people (age 65 and over).

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself! If you have not been immunized against pneumococcal infections, there are several ways to do so. You can ask to receive the vaccine during a visit to your doctor’s office or when you receive your fall flu shot. Adults who have received one dose of the vaccine in their lifetime are usually sufficiently protected.

In Québec, the vaccine is free for babies, people with chronic diseases, such as renal failure, and those aged 65 and older.

For more information, contact your health and social services centre’s CLSC, your doctor, or your pharmacist, or visit the website of Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux 

Vaccination is the best protection!

This is an article from The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux

Nelson Bellavance steps down as president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter

Nelson Bellavance has been volunteering actively with The Kidney Foundation of Canada for ten years now and, in 2003, became president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter. He recently decided to step down for personal reasons that prevented him from fulfilling his mission.

Born with only one kidney, Nelson Bellavance has been living with kidney failure since he was 17. In 1998, at age 50, Nelson was told that his single impaired kidney would need four hours of dialysis, three times a week, to function properly.

After 15 years on dialysis, not to mention 15 major operations since the age of 17, Nelson is still a powerhouse. “Some people I’ve met at the dialysis unit can’t get around without a wheelchair. I’m incredibly lucky to be fully independent and able to move around freely despite the inconveniences this disease causes,” he said, always looking on the bright side of life.

With the invaluable support of 230 volunteers, Nelson Bellavance organizes the door-to-door campaign for the Foundation’s Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter every March, which raises $50,000 a year.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada is proud to have such an exceptional volunteer at its side—so exceptional, in fact, that in the summer of 2010, Nelson cycled an unbelievable 4,500 kilometres!

Gaétan Rhéaume steps down as president of the Quebec City Chapter

Fifteen-year Quebec City Chapter volunteer and departing president Gaétan Rhéaume has handed over the reigns to Christina Tanguay-Dumas. A kidney transplant recipient himself, Gaétan has always been highly involved in Patient Services and was chapter president for over a decade. From now on, he will dedicate his time to the role of vice-president of Patient Services, a position he held while chapter president.

“I’ve always been very interested in developing and promoting Patient Services, so it’s only natural that I should dedicate all my energy to this particular function,” said Gaétan.

Throughout his longstanding involvement with the Foundation, Gaétan has played a number of leading roles with the chapter. He served as vice-president of Regional Development; contributed to a number of Quebec Branch committees, in particular the Kidney Walk Committee; developed the Student Loans service; and played an active role in most of the chapter’s events.

Gaétan Rhéaume worked for the Government of Quebec. Before receiving a kidney transplant, he suffered from kidney failure for several years and underwent home dialysis. Today, he has just become a grandfather for the second time and has gotten his family involved in the Foundation’s activities.

He will be replaced as chapter president by 29-year-old Christina Tanguay-Dumas, an accountant at Desjardins. She began working with the Foundation in fall 2012 and has since joined the Kidney Walk Committee.

“I plan to be as involved as I can possibly be. Someone in my family has kidney disease, so the cause is very dear to me,” said Christina.

News from the chapters

Daniel Turcotte, who has been involved for around a decade in organizing activities for the Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec Chapter, replaced Jules Buisson in June as chair of the chapter’s board of directors.

In response to a chorus of calls by the members of the Outaouais-Québécois Chapter, France Houle agreed to take over as chair of the chapter’s board of directors after Nicole Boudreau stepped down.

CA-division QC-sept2013

Quebec Branch board of directors, September 28, 2013

  • Christopher Gobeil, Chair, Quebec Branch board of directors
  • Francine Houle, Chair, Outaouais-Québécois Chapter
  • Daniel Turcotte, Chair, Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec Chapter
  • Christina Tanguay-Dumas, Chair, Quebec City Chapter
  • Sylvain Thibault, Vice-President, Volunteer Resources, Quebec Branch
The Foundation honours Dr. Pierre Nantel, a long-time Foundation volunteer who passed away unexpectedly

The Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to pay tribute to Dr. Pierre Nantel, who passed away last May.

Dr. Nantel was a very active member of the Quebec Branch’s Management Committee over the past 10 years and served as chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee.

He represented the Quebec Branch in negotiations with the government on a range of matters. He was a well-known speaker at events focused on raising awareness about kidney disease among the general public, patients and health professionals. 

Dr. Nantel helped lobby the government on numerous occasions in defence of patients’ interests. He supported the Quebec Branch in negotiations held in 1996 after the government announced changes the province’s health insurance system. In 1997, following the Gélineau Committee’s recommendations on organ and tissue donation, Dr. Nantel personally contacted the executive directors of every hospital and the chairpersons of every medical advisory board in Quebec, as well as dentists and pharmacists, in order to recruit people who would be dedicated to coordinating potential organ donations. That year, he spoke to the province’s regional health boards about the Foundation and kidney patients’ needs. He also worked tirelessly to sensitize Revenu Québec to the problems these patients face, so that they could receive tax credits.

In 2003, in the wake of the national Forum on Chronic Kidney Disease, he helped write the health department’s report in the hope of securing funding to open predialysis clinics at dialysis centres not already offering the service.

Dr. Nantel was responsible for launching a number of prevention programs in Quebec, and was the Quebec Branch’s official representative in negotiations with the provincial health department. He was also chairman of the Prevention Committee, which was formed in 2004. 

Working closely with Hélène Boisvert, the Foundation’s programs director, Dr. Nantel organized and gave talks at the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention, which takes place in a different part of Quebec each year.

The Kidney Foundation of Canada launches 19th Annual Jean-Jacques Bégin Benefit Dinner

On October 7, 2013, the members of the Organizing Committee held a press conference at Sherbrooke’s La Brûlerie de café to announce the 19th Annual Jean-Jacques Bégin Benefit Dinner.

True to its mission of promoting awareness of organ donation, the Eastern Townships Chapter of The Kidney Foundation of Canada took the opportunity to introduce the public to Robert Riché. After years of close monitoring and treatment at the nephrology centre at CHUS, Sherbrooke’s university hospital (Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke), Robert received a kidney donated by his niece Monika last July.

The instant Monika learned that Robert, her uncle by marriage, was on dialysis, she offered him one of her kidneys. She soon met with the staff at the transplant clinic and underwent a battery of tests to determine not only whether her kidney would be compatible, but also whether she would be able to undergo the surgery without risking her health. They also made sure that she fully understood what she was getting into.

“All the health professionals I spoke with were amazing. They kept reminding me that I was free to change my mind, but I never once considered it,” said 22-year-old Monika.

The transplant took place on July 23. Monika is already back to her old routine, which includes work-outs at the gym. Robert also recovered quickly and is playing hockey again, just three months after the transplant. “It’s great to put my skates on again. I’m back in tip-top shape thanks to my ‘super kidney’!” he said.

  • Robert Riché, who underwent a kidney transplant on July 23, 2013, at CHUS, Sherbrooke’s university hospital
  • Josée Larochelle, an associate at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and honorary president of the 19th Annual Jean-Jacques Bégin Benefit Dinner
  • Josée Parenteau, president of The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Eastern Townships Chapter
  • Monika Robert, who donated a kidney to Robert Riché 
  • Dr. Martin Plaisance, a nephrologist at CHUS, Sherbrooke’s university hospital  

Supporting research and enhancing quality of life for people suffering from kidney disease

“To continue raising awareness and making advances in kidney health research, we need the community’s financial support. The nephrology centre at CHUS is the only place outside Montreal and Quebec City performing kidney transplants. We are fortunate to be able to count on the researchers, doctors and health professionals who care deeply not only about their patients’ health, but also about their overall situation and quality of life. It is important to provide all the right conditions for kidney patients to keep working, but that simply cannot be done without research,” concluded Josée Parenteau, president of The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Eastern Townships Chapter.

You can listen to them telling their stories (in French only) on the au microphone website

Participate or partner in the 19th Annual Jean-Jacques Bégin Benefit Dinner.

The press conference was made possible thanks to the voluntary support Isabelle Fontaine, vice-president of Ryan Affaires publiques, provided the members of the event’s organizing committee.

Doctors at the CHUM Research Centre have discovered a new cause of rejection in some kidney transplant recipients

A team led by Dr. Marie-Josée Hébert at the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal Research Centre (CRCHUM) has discovered a new cause of organ rejection in some kidney transplant patients. Her team has identified a new class of antibodies — anti-LG3 — which when activated lead to severe rejection episodes associated with a high rate of organ loss. This discovery, which holds promise for organ recipients, was published in the online version of the American Journal of Transplantation.

Rejection is one of the major obstacles to organ transplantation. For the most part, it occurs when the recipient’s immune system recognizes the transplanted organ as a foreign body that must be eliminated. However, even when there is a good donor recipient immunologic match, the recipient’s immune system can attack the transplanted organ’s blood vessels. Called acute vascular rejection, this phenomenon often leads to a high rate of graft loss.

Dr. Hébert’s team has described anti-LG3, an antibody that some patients produce to attack LG3, as a protein that plays an important role in vascular repair and regeneration. “In these patients, the secretion of LG3 by the new kidney stimulates the activity of these antibodies, which attack and injure the blood vessels of the transplanted organ. The net effect is that the normal healing process of the transplanted organ is hindered, if not interrupted, leading to impaired kidney function and even loss,” explains Dr. Hébert.

By identifying the heightened presence of anti-LG3 antibodies in patients prior to transplantation, researchers will be able to predict the development of severe rejection episodes. “These results are quite exciting,” notes Dr. Hébert, “and suggest that new therapies aimed at eliminating LG3 antibodies prior to transplantation could reduce organ rejection or limit its severity.”

Given that LG3 is present in all blood vessels and thus in all transplanted organs, Hébert’s results could also explain rejection of other types of transplanted organ, such as the heart, lung and pancreas.

Source : Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM) Research Centre


Dr. Marie-Josée Hébert is a researcher at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) and Director of the Organ Transplant Program at Université de Montreal. She has been working with The Kidney Foundation of Canada as a speaker specializing in kidney transplantation.

Researchers uncover genes responsible for Dent’s disease

Dr. Mathieu Lemaire is currently pursuing a PhD at Yale in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Lifton (Investigative Medicine Program), which has established an international network to study Dent’s disease.

Dr. Lemaire will use cutting-edge genomic technology known as whole exome capture to make a snapshot of nearly all the human genes at once to identify the genes involved in Dent’s disease. This project will be the first time that the technology will be used on a large group of unrelated patients.

Dent’s disease is a genetic condition characterized by the dysfunction of the proximal renal tubules of the kidney. The proximal tubule is one of the most important parts of the kidney filtration system as it plays a key role in transferring vital components such as sodium and other ions, water, glucose, and amino acids back into the blood. When the proximal tubule is unable to do this, patients become very sick because the body can no longer retain these vital elements. Unfortunately, genetic disorders affecting the proximal tubule are very serious and cannot be cured. To date, two genes have been identified as playing a role in the onset of Dent’s. However, researchers have found that a significant group of people who suffer from an illness closely resembling Dent’s disease show no signs of mutation in these two genes, which would indicate that other genes are likely linked to Dent’s disease.

Finding novel disease-causing genes for Dent’s disease will have important diagnostic implications for these patients and may lead to new therapies as well as furthering our general understanding of proximal tubule function.

Dr. Mathieu Lemaire received his MD from McGill in 2004 and completed his Pediatric Nephrology training at Sick Kids (Toronto) in 2009. Dr. Lemaire is a recipient of a 2010-2013 Krescent Fellowship.

Foundation luminary Michel Perron marks the 20th anniversary of his transplant

Transplant recipient Michel Perron is a champion on several fronts, but he acknowledges his fortune with great humility: “Had I not been on the receiving end of a precious kidney, I would have been forced to stop working and my life would have taken a very different turn.”

This 80-year-old Quebec businessman started on dialysis at Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital in 1992. At the time, people over 60 were not eligible for transplants, but because his son had a kidney to give, the surgeons agreed to perform the operation.

Michel returned to work only eight days later. He celebrated his 62nd birthday and the first anniversary of his transplant by raising The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s flag at the North Pole in 1994. At his wife’s suggestion, he turned his adventure into a fundraising campaign, and so the Michel Perron Research Fund was born. “When I got back, I found out that we had raised $250,000!” he said.

Twenty years later and with a fully functioning kidney, Michel regularly visits dialysis patients in his community. “Because of my own story, I feel I have a responsibility to give hope to patients on dialysis and encourage them to undergo a transplant,” said Michel, a father of seven and grandfather of 22. “Donating a kidney today is much easier than it used to be, both for the donor and the recipient. Transplant and dialysis technology has really improved over the years.”

Photo caption: Michel Perron in 1994 during his North Pole expedition. He celebrated the 20th anniversary of his transplant on April 7, 2013.

A Quarter Century of Transportation for CODA!

This year, the Canadian Organ Donation Association (CODA) is celebrating 25 years of ground transportation success. In all, the organization’s vehicles have travelled 1,450,679 kilometres, the equivalent of circling the globe 36 times!

In 1983, Richard Tremblay was working as a police officer in metropolitan Sherbrooke. Demonstrating his sincere desire to help and to serve through his job, Richard was unwittingly on his way to creating one of the strongest links in Quebec’s organ donation chain, the Canadian Organ Donation Association. At the time, his friend Jean-Jacques Bégin was desperately awaiting a kidney transplant. On learning about the painfully long wait his friend had to endure, Richard decided to act.

As host of the television show Télé-patrouille on Radio-Canada’s Sherbrooke station, not to mention an active police officer, Richard contacted the station’s executives to pitch his idea for an organ donation telethon. The goal: raise public awareness of the importance of signing an organ donor card. The project made headway, and in December 1983, the Opération greffe de vie telethon was broadcast on Radio-Canada stations across Canada for six hours straight.

The first Opération greffe de vie telethon was hosted by Richard, his friend Jean-Jacques and Christine Mercier, under the patronage of honorary chairman Dr. Paul David, Senator and founder of the Montreal Heart Institute, and the show was a resounding success! The telethon was held the two following years as well. However, in 1987, CODA reinvented itself and launched what would be a North American first: the overland transportation of organs, tissues and medical equipment. “Back then, organs were transported by taxi or ambulance, which practically put the brakes on organ transplants in outlying regions. And that made no sense,” said CODA’s founding president. So Sherbrooke became the home of the first organ, tissue and medical team transportation unit operated by volunteers, all members of Quebec’s police forces. The project gave rise to others like it, and 25 years later, CODA has 11 transportation units across Quebec, including the permanent unit at Pierre-Elliot Trudeau International Airport, yet another North American first!

Today, CODA still pursues its mission, which now includes part of Ontario. In the meantime, the organization took on a second mission, that of posthumously recognizing deceased donors, as well as living donors, their families and the police officers who give of their time to transport organs, tissues and medical teams. Every year since 1994, CODA has held a recognition ceremony in Sherbrooke. “Recognition is a very important part of what we do. It has become a tradition to use this event to recognize donors and families who, like war heroes, have saved lives with their selfless acts,” said Mr. Tremblay.

Source: Transplant Québec, Julie Perreault

Biomarkers: Tools to Help Kidney Disease Prevention and Early Detection

Dr. François Madore is a Nephrologist at Montreal’s Sacre-Coeur Hospital. He also heads up the University of Montreal Nephrology Research Consortium. He and his team are conducting basic research, concentrating on biomarkers − tools that could assist with the prevention or early detection of kidney disease.

“Early detection is really important in kidney disease,” says Dr. Madore, “because many people are not even aware that they have a disease. The reason for this is that kidney diseases are often silent. People don’t have any symptoms. Since they don’t feel that they are sick, they don’t seek medical attention.” These individuals are missing prized opportunities to have their kidney function checked through very simple blood and urine tests.

“In terms of population health, I think what is really needed is to improve the level of awareness regarding kidney diseases,” insists Dr. Madore. “Individuals must know whether or not they are affected and whether or not they need to take special care regarding their kidneys.  I think in recent years we’ve become much better at evaluating kidney function earlier when a patient comes to see a doctor. For instance, we’re very aware of the roles of high blood pressure and diabetes in contributing to renal deterioration. So I think physicians are much more aware of the risk factors, and we’re much better at identifying them and attempting to prevent progression of kidney problems.”

Biomarkers, the area of Dr. Madore’s research, assist in the prognosis of kidney disease and response to therapy.  “Basically, a biomarker is a molecule or something that we can measure either in the blood or in the urine that will help us to predict how a patient is going to evolve in the future. So if we can measure protein in the blood of someone, that level of protein will tell us if this patient is going to require chronic dialysis or transplantation. This is very important.” stresses Dr. Madore, “because if you know that someone is likely to progress towards something specific, you may treat this patient very differently and you may be more aggressive in terms of treatment. Biomarkers are very helpful in predicting who is going to respond – or not - to therapy.”

Cholesterol is probably the best known biomarker. It can be measured in the blood and helps predict whether or not someone will suffer from myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is Canada’s number one killer and kidney disease patients are more likely to die of cardiac complications than either renal failure or prolonged dialysis. Dr. Madore notes that research such as his will help to “identify why patients with kidney disease have this increased risk of cardiovascular disease.” And this is an important step towards enhancing future treatment and potentially, prevention of kidney disease.

Dr. François Madore received support and research grants from the Foundation’s Biomedical Research Program. He also sits on the Program’s Scientific Committee.




The Foundation has lost a great volunteer

The Kidney Foundation of Canada wishes to pay tribute to Lévi Trottier, the 11-year volunteer with the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter who passed away unexpectedly on October 6, 2012.

Deeply affected by the kidney failure of his eldest son, who received a transplant in 1999 after three years on peritoneal dialysis, Lévi took up the challenge of restarting the March fundraising drive. Since his arrival, the amounts raised each year have continued to rise. He was the founder and organizer of a “healthy brunch” fundraiser that brings each year’s campaign to a close. Attracting some 225 people, the event will celebrate its 7th anniversary this year. Making countless phone calls and somehow managing to convince 285 volunteers to canvass La Sarre and the 24 neighbouring parishes, he was strongly committed to the cause of kidney disease. In his early days with the Foundation, he also fought for the creation of the dialysis centre in La Sarre.

A husband of 54 years, father of four and grandfather of 10, Lévi loved his family dearly. Despite working tirelessly in the food industry, he found a way to give generously of his time to his family and the community: he served as school commissioner for 41 years, spent 33 years as a volunteer firefighter, and dedicated his last 12 years to The Kidney Foundation of Canada. His loss has created a void that will be difficult to fill. His determination and perseverance will inspire us to continue his work on this aspect of our mission. For his dedication and contribution, The Kidney Foundation of Canada would like to thank Lévi Trottier and to extend its deepest appreciation and sincerest condolences to his family.

Five volunteers honored for their work at the Foundation

On February 6, 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada - an occasion marked only once before by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1897. In celebration of this event, a commemorative medal was created to recognize outstanding Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life, people who have built and continue to build our caring society and country through their service, contributions and achievements.

During this year of celebration, 60,000 deserving Canadians were recognized. The Kidney Foundation of Canada received 30 medals, five of which was awarded to Luciano D’Ignazio, Dr. Pierre Nantel, Denis Marquis, Christopher Gobeil and Tetiana Gerych.

The Kidney Foundation is pleased to highlight the awarding of this prestigious distinction to these dedicated volunteers. This medal recognizes their outstanding involvement in the fight against kidney disease.

Luciano D’Ignazio has been involved with the Quebec Branch of the Foundation since 1993. He is the Chairman of the Founder’s Award Campaign a fund-raising initiative that calls upon a partnership between all leaders of the corporate milieu and which has become one of the largest sources of revenue for the Quebec Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. As Chairman of this Campaign, he has helped raise millions of dollars in the last 19 years through many activities such as the Founder’s Award Golf Classic and the Founder’s Award Gala. In 2010, he was awarded the National Special Appreciation Award for his fundraising successes.

Dr. Pierre Nantel is the driving force behind several kidney health programs in Québec. He is the Branch’s representative with the Ministère de la santé. He initiated, organized and acted as speaker for the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Disease Prevention of The Kidney Foundation. This symposium is held every year in a different region of Quebec.

Denis Marquis has been a Foundation volunteer for over 25 years. He has served as Quebec Branch president on two occasions: from 1989 to 1990 and from 2004 to 2006. Over his many years as a Foundation volunteer, he has been highly involved with the Quebec Branch’s Board of Directors, having served as both member and treasurer. He also received the David Ornstein Distinguished Service Award in 2006, the Harold W. Ashenmil Award, and the National President’s Award in 2009. These three National Recognition awards are conferred by the Kidney Foundation of Canada to recognize the exceptional work of volunteers.

Christopher Gobeil has been a Foundation volunteer for over 20 years, and active both within the Quebec Branch and the National Office. He was president of the Quebec Branch as well as a member of the National Board of Directors, the National Governance Committee and the National Nominations Committee. He has also been Treasurer of both the Quebec Branch and the National Office. Christopher has long dedicated himself to the Foundation in order to improve quality of life for people living with kidney disease.

Tetiana Gerych has been involved with the Foundation since 1989. She is a member of the National Executive Committee and Board of Directors as well as a member of the Quebec Branch’s Board of Directors. A devoted volunteer, she has always eagerly shared her knowledge and connections with the Foundation. Deeply committed to the organization’s mission, Tetiana was honoured by the Foundation in recognition of her 20 years of volunteer involvement.

Dr. Pierre Cartier receives the National Mary Lou Karley Patient Services Award

During the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention held on May 11, 2012, the National Mary-Lou Karley Patient Services Award was given to Dr. Pierre Cartier.

Dr. Cartier joined The Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Quebec Branch in 2004. As a new member of the Prevention Committee, he worked with the Branch to create the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention, a conference focusing on the increasing incidence of chronic kidney failure in Quebec. Dr. Cartier, a practicing nephrologist, has long been an avid proponent of programs and services for people with kidney disease across the province. In 1978, he launched the first ambulatory continuous peritoneal dialysis program, and since 1984 has been the only nephrologist in Abitibi-Ouest and Témiscamingue, where he oversees two dialysis units, Rouyn-Noranda and La Sarre. He has been a full-time nephrologist at Saint-Jérôme’s Hôtel-Dieu Hospital since June 2004, and is also an assistant clinical professor at Université de Montréal. His clinical interests include dialysis, predialysis and arterial hypertension.

In 2009, Dr. Cartier received the Jean-Jacques Bégin Recognition Award from the Quebec Branch. Despite his busy schedule, Dr. Cartier continues to put his vast experience and wide-ranging knowledge to use, and remains an invaluable resource for the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Congratulations, Dr. Pierre Cartier, on your National Mary Lou Karley Patient Services Award!

More than 180 participants at the Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention

The Symposium on Chronic Kidney Failure Prevention was held on May 11, 2012, in the Montreal area, attracting over 180 participants. The goal of the symposium was to inform health professionals about chronic kidney failure. Participants included general practitioners, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists and hospital administrators from the Montreal area’s local community health centres (CLSCs), nursing homes (CHSLDs), private clinics and medical centres, as well as representatives of the Agence de santé et de services sociaux de Montréal, the city’s health and social services agency.

The symposium also enabled the Foundation to present the results of a diabetes screening campaign aimed at high-risk ethnic and cultural communities in the Montreal area. The project was made possible by financial support from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The symposium was sponsored by Janssen Inc. and Audio-visuel VAE.

Finding new ways of measuring and enlarging the deceased organ donor pool

By Caren Rose

While the number of people requiring a kidney transplant is steadily increasing, the number of deceased organ donors - by far the largest donor pool – remains static. Epidemiologist Caren Rose is looking at the figures in new ways, with an eye to increasing the number of donations from deceased persons.

Caren Rose is a statistician at St. paul’s Hospital and a phd candidate at the University of British Columbia. For the past five years she’s been working with kidney researchers, analyzing their data and writing up their research methods and results. “My role is transitioning towards becoming a collaborative researcher and eventually leading my own studies,” says Caren. With a Master’s degree in Statistics from dalhousie, Caren brings a different perspective to kidney research.

Conventional ways of charting potential donors on an on-going basis are costly and not very feasible. Working with Dr. John Gill, a transplant nephrologist at St. Paul’s Hospital, she notes, “my project is to see if we can identify potential donors using administrative data that’s already been collected,” says Ms. Rose. “these people haven’t necessarily been approached for donation or asked to consent, but would meet the medical criteria for donation.” “Right now,” Caren explains, “organ procurement organizations look at the number of people who died in hospital and their cause of death to identify potential donors who have not agreed to donate their organs. We now estimate the number to be under three per cent. But the number of patients we’re getting to donate is much smaller than that. Our underlying goal is to figure out how we can get more deceased donors.”

Caren Rose is currently funded through the KRESCENT program allied Health doctoral award.

Diabetes and high blood pressure: the main causes of kidney failure

The number of patients suffering from kidney failure is growing steadily. In Quebec, an estimated 8,000 patients are receiving care at a kidney protection (predialysis) clinic, while over 4,600 are actively on dialysis.

The two main causes of end-stage renal failure are diabetes (in around 35% of cases) and renovascular disorders such as hypertension (in around 18% of cases).

The best hope: a kidney transplant

Organ donation needs have risen sharply due to the rapid rise in the number of people living with kidney disease. At present, some 1,200 Quebecers are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and 941 (78%) are hoping for a kidney.

Demand for organs greatly outweighs supply. The most recent Canadian Institute for Health Information report on organ donation notes that the gap is growing between the number of organs available for transplantation and the number of people awaiting a life-saving transplant. Of the organs people are waiting for, kidneys top the list.

This striking data clearly shows that, unfortunately, the incidence of kidney disease is only growing, and that we must act quickly to improve quality of life for people suffering from this life-threatening illness.

A new success for the Kids' Camp

The Kids’ Camp run by The Quebec Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada took place from August 4 to 10, 2012. For kids 8 to 18 who suffer from kidney disease or who’ve had a transplant, the summer camp provides an opportunity to experience all the joys of a sleep-away camp while receiving all the kidney treatments they need. This year, over 50 children took part. Thanks to a team of medical volunteers from the Montreal Children’s Hospital and Sainte-Justine Hospital, children got to enjoy a week of vacation while continuing their treatments. It’s also an opportunity for children to swap stories with other kids with the same condition and establish close friendships that can last a lifetime. A big thanks to everyone who supports the Foundation’s Kids’ Camp!

Like last year, sponsored the “young talent” dance workshop, which opened the camp and was a hit with all the kids.

The Beauce hosts a swim-o-thon and a walk for the Foundation

Pay it forward.

My name is Joanne Vachon. I am a young woman from the Beauce who, like you, is living with kidney failure, the outcome of a debilitating disease.

This is my story, which shows you why it’s so important to pay it forward.

Three months after I gave birth to my second daughter, my legs swelled up like balloons. Following a series of tests and an analysis of the renal biopsy I had undergone, the diagnosis came down: AL amyloidosis affecting both my kidneys. It’s a very rare, incurable disease with very few treatment options. I was 31, married with two young children, two university degrees, a job I loved… I was floored.

That day and the next six years would turn out to be the worst crisis I would ever endure. I have been undergoing peritoneal dialysis since 2009. This kind of dialysis is great for me, because it has the advantage of being portable. So I can still be a mother and drive my kids to all their activities, and believe me, there are a lot of them. My husband and I are both really into sports, and so are the kids. My husband is a member of the Festival Sportif de Sainte-Marie Steering Committee. This four-day festival has been around for eight years, and 4,000 athletes now take part each year. A number of sports are featured at the festival, including soccer, deck hockey, beach volleyball, softball, basketball and running.

This year, I suggested that the group team up with the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada. As a result, two new activities were added to the program – a swim-o-thon and walking – and 75 people took part in the walk to support the Foundation. Participants were asked for a voluntary donation, and four kilometres later they had raised $1,400.

A swim-o-thon was also organized by high-school graduate Ariane Boutin as part of her school project: two hours of non-stop swimming, either solo or in teams of four, in an outdoor pool heated just for the occasion. Thirty-one swimmers took to the water under a sunny sky and in a fun-filled family atmosphere. I’m sure Ariane got an excellent grade on her project, because the afternoon was an A+ success that raised $705 for the cause.

As a result, the Festival Sportif, Ariane Boutin and I were delighted to be able to hand the Quebec Branch of The Kidney Foundation of Canada a cheque for $2,107.

For the past two years, my health has been better, and every day I am grateful for life, my family, the home dialysis team and my doctors. My way of giving back is to get involved and support the battle against kidney disease.

Joanne Vachon

The 2012–2013 Kidney Foundation of Canada – Quebec Branch Board of Directors

Front row, left to right (seated): Nicole Boudreau, Simon Brodeur, Jacques Davignon, Michel Perron, Marcel Bédard, Jules Buisson, Josée Parenteau, Christiane Gélinas-Buisson, Nelson Bellavance.

Second row, left to right (standing): Jean-François Rousselle, Alexandre Raymond, Richard Descarries, Alain Ouimet, Nora Kelly, Robert Douville, Sylvain Thibault, Christopher Gobeil, Guy Langevin, Denis Marquis, Christian Houle, Claude Pigeon, Gaëtan Rhéaume.

Absent: Tetiana Gerych, Dr. Pierre Nantel, Norma Passaretti, Claude Proulx, Lyse-Ann Bélanger, Laureen Bureau, Tetiana Gerych, Normand Lemieux.

Provincial recognition awards given out at the 2012 Annual Conference

Provincial awards

The Annual Conference provides an opportunity to reward the outstanding volunteers whose involvement with the Foundation advances the cause of kidney disease prevention and improves the daily lives of patients living with kidney failure.

This year’s President’s Award went to Alain Ouimet, a veteran Foundation volunteer who has long promoted volunteers’ active commitment and emphasized their contribution.

His roles include:

  • Member of the Quebec Branch’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee since 2007;
  • Vice-president in charge of Fundraising Initiatives from 2007 to 2009;
  • Quebec Branch President and member of the National Board of Directors from 2009 to 2011;
  • Outgoing President and Chairman of the Nomination Committee since 2011.

His presidency was marked by a number of notable achievements:

  • 37% increase in net revenues;
  • Development of the fundraising walks and the Kidney Car Program;
  • Development of volunteering and the chapters;
  • Greater public awareness about kidney failure and a heightened profile for the Foundation in Quebec.

Alain Ouimet, outgoing President of the Kidney Foundation of Canada – Quebec Branch;
Christopher Gobeil, President of The Kidney Foundation of Canada – Quebec Branch

The Morty Tarder Award went to the Eastern Townships Chapter. Operated by a small group of volunteers whose dedication and commitment are an example to all, the Eastern Townships Chapter had a remarkable year in 2011, having diversified its range of patient services and surpassed its fundraising goals.

Josée Parenteau, President of the Eastern Townships Chapter;
Christopher Gobeil, President of The Kidney Foundation of Canada – Quebec Branch

The Communications Award went to Martin Héroux
in recognition of his commitment and involvement as Kidney Walk spokesman from the very beginning; for generously giving countless media interviews to raise public awareness about the Foundation’s work; and for contributing to the success of Montreal’s Kidney Walk by hosting the event.

Martin Héroux, spokesperson of The Kidney Walk

The Financial Development award went to Hervé Larochelle
for contributing enormously to the success of the Beauce region’s Spaghetti Dinner despite losing his wife Colette a number of years ago. Over the 35 years of Hervé’s involvement with the Foundation, this remarkable volunteer has always been very available and extremely committed to the cause, personally soliciting every business in the Beauce. At 72, he has trouble walking, but as undaunted and committed as ever, he plans to continue organizing the event.

The Michel Perron Award went to Catalogna & Frères
, a business that has been involved in the Founder’s Award Campaign Golf Tournament and Gala for the last eight years, and the Campaign’s Magazine Committee for the last five. In eight years, the company has raised some $75,000 for the Foundation.

The Jean-Jacques Bégin Award went to Solange Bouchard
for her personal involvement with kidney failure patients over the past 30 years; for continuing to help patients even after she retired by serving them coffee at Quebec City’s Hotel-Dieu Hospital; and for talking to patients about the Foundation.

The Organ Donation Award went to Wendy Sherry
for her work on the Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Committee. An active member since 2006, Wendy made a name for herself by participating in the Foundation’s English-school project and by making outstanding contributions to raising awareness among cultural communities.

Wendy Sherry, member of the Foundation’s Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Committee;
Claude Proulx, Chair of the Foundation’s Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Committee.

Chapter Volunteer award

This award is given to volunteers who have made remarkable contributions to the growth and development of their chapter’s activities.

  • Christine Boudreau for the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Chapter;
  • Céline Gauthier for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Chapter;
  • Dominique Lapointe for the Eastern Townships Chapter;
  • Laureen Bureau for the Outaouais-Québécois Chapter;
  • Fernand Dufresne for the Quebec City Chapter (André Mainguy Award);
  • Lise Vadeboncoeur for the Mauricie/Centre-du-Québec Chapter;
  • Louis Charest for the Montréal-Métropolitain Chapter.
The Kidney Foundation of Canada bestows the 2009 Founder's Award to nephrology nurses

The Kidney Foundation conferred the 2009 Founder’s Award to all  Québec nurses who have worked in dialysis and/or transplantation for 25 years or more and have devoted their careers to the care of nephrology patients.  The annual Gala was held at Le Windsor Ballrooms on November 18, 2009.

At this occasion, The Kidney Foundation of Canada highlighted the meritorious service of these nurses by paying them a vibrant tribute in the presence of more than 250 guests. The commitment and dedication of nephrology nurses displayed every day on behalf of kidney patients and their unselfish work to maintain the health of thousands of individuals with kidney disease is the reason for which they were awarded the 2009 Founder’s Award. 

The Gala is the closing event of the 2009 Founder’s Award Campaign. This Campaign was Chaired by Mr. Luciano D’Ignazio, CA, at Schwartz Levitsky Feldman LLP and under the honorary Chairmanship of Mr. Tony Loffreda, C.P.A., Regional Vice-President, Western Quebec & Place Ville-Marie, of the RBC Royal Bank raised over $800,000 for the accomplishment of The Kidney Foundation’s mission.

My Kidneys helped me to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

This past summer, I had the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and to display The Kidney Foundation of Canada banner at the summit. The six day trek was a wonderful experience, but I could not have done it without the essential contribution of my kidneys.

Uhuru Peak, the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is at an altitude of almost 5,900 meters and for those of us living at sea level (zero meters) it takes a lot of physical adjustment to not be affected by acute mountain sickness. Altitude sickness (according to Wikipedia) is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans (and animals), caused by acute exposure to low air pressure and a reduction in the concentration of oxygen at high altitude.

To put this into perspective, high altitude is above 2,400 meters and extremely high altitude is above 5,500 meters. In Québec, Mont Sainte-Anne is 800 meters and Mont-Tremblant is 968 meters so Kilimanjaro is more than six times higher than Tremblant.

After the first day of the six day Kilimanjaro climb, the amount of oxygen started to decrease. Every breath contained fewer and fewer molecules of oxygen and thus the higher I got, the faster and deeper I was breathing.

That’s where good kidney functioning made the climb much easier. The kidneys sense the lower level of oxygen and kick into high gear. They produce a hormone called erythropoietin which commands the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells which increases the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

To make room for the increased blood cells, the body needs to dump as much waste fluids from the blood as it can. Our wonderful kidney again does the job. It filters the blood and expels the excess as urine.

Believe it or not, the kidneys play a third important role in acclimatisation to high altitudes. As I increased my respiration rate, the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in my blood decreased. This decrease usually causes the PH level in the blood to rise and again results in impaired oxygen transport. This could have caused a type of hyperventilation making me feel dizzy or weak. I say could have caused because my kidneys compensated and again saved the day. Sensing a rise in the PH level, they began pulling bicarbonates from the blood and thus kept everything in balance.

Of course, it’s not a one way street. I too had to help my kidneys during this journey. As I went higher, the air became drier, thus exhaling expelled more and more moisture from my body. As my kidneys were already working overtime balancing hormones and withdrawing waste from the blood, dehydration was a real danger. I met the challenge by drinking three to four liters of water, eating soup and other liquid nutrients.

The moral of the story --- Treat your kidneys right and you will get to the top of the world.

Miklos Fulop




Quebec Branch - 2300 René Lévesque Blvd. West, Montreal, QC H3H 2R5 - Tel.: (514) 938-4515 / 1-800-565-4515 within Quebec
Charitable Registration Number: 107567398RR0001