Lisa Ellis plays with her 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, six days before her kidney transplant surgery. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Lisa Ellis plays with her 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, six days before her kidney transplant surgery. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Kidney recipient ready to enjoy ‘new lease on life’

Chilliwack’s Lisa Ellis recovering well after life-saving surgey

This is the second in a two-part series on kidney disease, featuring Lisa Ellis and her cousin and living kidney donor, Brian Nimmo. Part one was published on March 25. A link is available at the bottom of this story.

The “old Lisa” is back, just as she had hoped and prayed for.

From the moment her new kidney was placed in her body, on March 12 at Vancouver General Hospital, it started doing its job.

The kidney was a gift from her cousin and lifelong friend, Brian Nimmo. Both are recovering well, with Brian back home in Grande Cache and Lisa now back in Chilliwack. She has been sharing updates through her journey with her friends and family on Facebook, and as an employee at The Chilliwack Progress, she has enthusiastically agreed to share her story with the wider community.

Brian and Lisa have been checking in regularly with each other over the phone; Fridays are their official day to celebrate their surgeries each week. And looking back, it all started with a phone call, too.

Cousins Lisa Ellis and Brian Nimmo spend time together on March 9, 2021 before their surgery. On March 12, Nimmo donated one of his kidneys to Ellis. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Cousins Lisa Ellis and Brian Nimmo spend time together on March 9, 2021 before their surgery. On March 12, Nimmo donated one of his kidneys to Ellis. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

One day not long ago, Brian asked Lisa a few very important questions.

“You still looking for a kidney?” Yes, of course, she answered.

“Would you take mine?” he countered.

The answer was a quick: “Hell, yes!”

Initially Lisa thought Brian was just being conversational. Within moments she realized that he was more than mentally prepared to give his kidney, he had already been physically preparing. He had been through preliminary tests already, and cleared to donate.

One of the required steps for a living kidney donor is to ask their recipient if they would accept their kidney. And this was that critical question.

So just like that, 21 years into her journey with chronic kidney disease (CKD) Lisa was that much closer to her “new lease on life,” and she was moved beyond measure. This didn’t just mean she would have a longer life to live, it would mean more time with her family, and most importantly she says, her young grandson, Stirling.

Her prayers had been answered.

Lisa Ellis dances with her 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Lisa Ellis dances with her 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

She explains that when you have CKD, a lot of people say they would be happy to donate their kidney, and all are well-intentioned. But not many follow through with the testing, for various reasons, and even fewer are able to donate or are a successful match.

It can be such a difficult topic to broach, that some kidney disease patients don’t even bother asking.

They can be afraid of the surgery, or be lacking information about the transplant process. They could be concerned about the effects of surgery on their donor, or inconveniencing someone or impacting them financially.

Others may feel indebted or like they don’t deserve a living kidney.

Some are just too worried about ruining a relationship simply by asking, while some fear the answer “no.”

Guilt, fear, hesitation all keep people from connecting with a donor. But Brian didn’t have a doubt in his mind that it was the right thing to do.

“It’s a personal decision and a lot of things lined up well for me, and for Lisa as well,” he says. He doesn’t have a young family to provide for anymore, and has the ability to take the time needed off work for the surgery and recovery time.

But he says it was his and Lisa’s shared childhood years that really made the decision easy. Lisa’s mother had CKD, and went through a successful transplant around 1975. This was the early days of non-twin transplants in Canada – the first successful non-twin transplant took place about a decade earlier.

“I was a bit more amenable to it because her mother, my aunt Jean, was one of the pioneers of the transplants,” Brian explains. “And because she was able to get a transplant that early in her life.”

He also was pleased to be able to donate in his 60s, and he’s heard of people doing the same in their 70s.

“That was another plus to the check mark list,” he adds.

And when it was all over, their surgeon both told them the same thing. That by Brian donating to Lisa, he not only sacrificed a kidney, but he took her off the list of people waiting for a cadaver (deceased donor) kidney.

Now, Brian is well into his recovery days and enjoying walking his dogs and taking care of things around the house. His follow up includes regular kidney function tests to make sure his one remaining kidney is doing well.

“I’m going to take good care of it,” he says of his right kidney.

And Lisa says the same of her one kidney, nicknamed Lefty. And she hopes this is the end of their family’s long story with CKD.

“I’m praying it ends with me,” she says.

Kidney Foundation Canada says registering only takes a few minutes through the various provincial registries. One registered organ donor could help up to eight people.

You only need to register once in a lifetime but a decal on your driver’s license is no longer enough to ensure you’re registered as an organ donor.

In B.C., register your wishes online through: register.transplant.bc.ca.

READ PART ONE: ‘Guardian angel’ gives kidney to cousin

Lisa Ellis reads to 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Lisa Ellis reads to 15-month-old grandson Stirling on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Lisa Ellis hands 15-month-old grandson Stirling a treat to give to dog Maggie while babysitting on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Lisa Ellis hands 15-month-old grandson Stirling a treat to give to dog Maggie while babysitting on March 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Health

Just Posted

Brandon Hobbs (turquoise shirt), brother of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs, gathers with other family and friends to distribute posters in Chilliwack on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Search efforts expand to Chilliwack and beyond for missing Abbotsford man

Family, friends put up posters in Chilliwack, Agassiz, Hope for missing 22-year-old Adam Hobbs

poster
Drop-in Covid vaccine clinic in Mission June 17-18

Neighbourhood clinics complement appointment-based clinics currently operating in Mission

Stock photo by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
Drop-in vaccination clinics slated in Abbotsford for construction workers

Among three sites in Lower Mainland holding no-appointment clinics in June and July

A CH-149 Cormorant from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of CFB Comox on a training exercise in Chilliwack on June 16, 2021. (William Snow photo)
VIDEO: Military search and rescue training in Chilliwack Wednesday

CH-149 Cormorant and CC-115 Buffalo from CFB Comox participated in downed aircraft rescue simulation

(Black Press Media files)
Get ready for mosquito season

Fraser Valley Regionsl District has already taken measures to curb the number of mosquitos

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read