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

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

Just Posted

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

The old seniors centre is adjacent to Mission Leisure Centre, which will compliment programs, amenities, parking, and security for the youth centre. Google Maps image.
Mission’s old seniors centre to be turned into youth centre

Council approves renovation costs of $105,000; youth lounge budget increase of $66,000

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack tulip attraction open this weekend after being closed last year due to COVID-19

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

web
Mission mayoral hopefuls quizzed by chamber

All six candidates participate in virtual question period

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Most Read