Walking inside Jacquelyn Sumpton’s house, one’s attention is drawn to the dozens of stacked cardboard boxes marked Baxter.
They contain medical supplies that keep Sumpton alive.
The 29-year-old Mission mother of three has been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease and has to have peritoneal dialysis every night.
Her prognosis is for eventual kidney failure, which is fatal. And time is slowly running out.
Her only hope is to find a suitable person willing to donate a kidney so she can have a transplant.
As of today, the search is ongoing.
Her ordeal began about 18 months ago while pregnant with her third daughter. A routine blood test came back showing that she was anemic. Further tests revealed that Sumpton had kidney disease. Initially, she was told it was nothing serious to worry about. Doctors advised her to keep having blood tests to monitor the condition.
After Evangeline was born, three weeks early, life went back to normal.
Two months later, the doctor’s office called and told Sumpton she needed to go back for more bloodwork
That test revealed that Sumpton’s GFR – which measures how much her kidneys actually filter – was down to nine per cent.
“They said, ‘You need to come in here today. We are putting a catheter in next week; we have set you up an appointment and you are going on dialysis the week after that.’
“Like it is happening now.”
She was horrified by the suddenness of it all.
“I think, a few times, I listened to a song and I just drove around and cried.”
But she is determined to stay upbeat and keep fighting.
She doesn’t really have a choice.
“I come at it positive. Because if I don’t, I’ll fall into the deepest depths of depression and my family couldn’t take it and I couldn’t take it. And crawling out would be much harder than staying above it.
“Every day I have to consciously prepare myself and strengthen myself and ready myself and then address the day.”
Sumpton and her husband Sean Magnusson, also 29, have been together since they were in high school. They have three daughters – 10-year-old Genevieve, Aliya, 8, and Evengeline, who is one.
Sumpton and Magnusson remain hopeful that a suitable kidney donor can be found.
“We knew from the start that polycystic kidney disease is not curable, so the only way to fix it is to put a new kidney in,” said Magnusson.
The search began immediately as they asked family and friends to get tested for compatibility.
But slowly, those potential candidates were ruled out for a variety of reasons.
“The screening process is very thorough. The donor has to be a good match in order to have success.”
Magnusson is currently going through the testing process, hoping he might be a match.
“Our blood type matches and I’m healthy enough,” he said.
But now he has to go through more tests to determine if the tissue is able to co-mingle and not reject.
The waiting game continues.
Jacquelyn Sumpton and her husband Sean Magnusson stand in front of a stack of medical supply boxes with their three daughters, 10-year-old Genevieve, eight-year-old Aliya and Evengeline who is one.
While she is on the transplant list, doctors say finding a willing donor would be preferable.
“For her being so young, receiving a live kidney donation is the best option. A cadaveric kidney means she’ll need another transplant 20 years later,” explained Magnusson, adding the wait for a cadaveric is anywhere up to three years.
And Sumpton’s window of health isn’t clear.
“She could wake up tomorrow and be hospitalized,” said Magnusson.
As for their three children, Sumpton said they understand that she’s sick, but not how serious it is.
“They know mom needs a new kidney. They know mom’s on dialysis. They know that it makes me tired and sometimes grumpy and they know I need a lot more help around the house.
Magnusson said another fear is the disease is hereditary, so the children have “a 50/50 shot” of developing the condition.
The family is looking for as many possible donors as possible in hope of finding a match.
“If they are not a match for her, they may be a match for somebody else,” said Magnusson.
For now, Sumpton continues dialysis at home every night. It’s an eight-hour process that gives her about 10 per cent of the function a normal kidney would provide.
“When I’m in bed, I can walk to my bedroom door but that’s it, I’m hooked up to the machine.”
She has to take great precautions to remain sanitary during the process, and that’s not easy for a mother of three.
Anyone interested in finding out if they would be a suitable donor can call the St. Paul’s Hospital kidney donor team at 1-604-806-9027.
You can also visit Sumpton’s FaceBook page called Jacquelyn Sumpton Kidney Donor Page.