Dan Hutchings has a personal connection to promoting this year’s Kidney Walk in the lakecity, coming up Sunday, June 6.
The 35-year-old Williams Lake Kidney Walk volunteer team lead has been battling kidney disease since 2008.
Currently, he spends four hours a day, three times a week, hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital to keep him alive after developing a condition called glomerulonephritis, which caused both his original kidneys to fail.
“I was healthy my whole life up until then ,” Hutchings said, who was 21 years old at the time.
“Basically kidney disease can be either genetic, or your body just decides it doesn’t want to produce this IgA (Immunoglobulin A) antibody anymore.”
IgA buildup prevents the kidneys from filtering waste and excess water, leading to the loss of kidney function.
But in 2010 Hutchings, who was living in Lethbridge, Alta. at the time, was offered hope in the form of a successful kidney donation from a family member — his uncle’s wife.
For almost eight years after, Hutchings found himself healthy again, when a bout with meningitis proved disastrous.
“I lost my transplanted kidney in 2017,” he said. “When that happened I was in the hospital for 18 days. I didn’t know who I was, or who my family was, and one day I just kind of popped out of it, and I’m lucky to be here today.”
Back on kidney dialysis, Hutchings is once again awaiting a kidney donation.
Two years ago, Hutchings moved to Williams Lake with his fiancé, Chelsey Auger, who he said has been the “rock that keeps me going” through his entire battle.
“Today I have enough energy to go back to work,” he said, noting he recently started working a job in sales at Canadian Tire, however, remains extremely careful due to the combination of being immunocompromised and the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m now back on the list and that’s for a deceased donor, but I’m still actively searching for a live donor,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay healthy, stay active and keep my heart healthy for surgery when that big day comes.”
As for the Kidney Foundation of Canada — the organization behind hosting the annual Kidney Walk — Hutchings said they’ve been invaluable providing resources, connections and support.
“They are the reason I feel so strongly about supporting this cause, and raising money for the organization,” he said. “And I’ve been through it. It gives me a good feeling to advocate for others who maybe can’t speak up, and it feels good to voice my opinion.”
Hutchings would also like to encourage residents to fill out their organ donor card and stressed the importance of peoples’ ability to help save a life.
Anyone wishing to take part in this year’s Williams Lake Kidney Walk, which is slated to get underway virtually in Western Canada on Sunday, June 6 at 9 a.m., can do so by signing up at www.kidneywalk.ca either as an individual, a local business or as part of a team.
Hutchings noted everyone is welcome to join his team, as well, aptly named ‘Cool Beans,’ when registering on the Kidney Walk website. Donations can also be made to the Cool Beans team here.
Walk participants, meanwhile, will be left to their own devices as no formal event — normally in Boitanio Park in Williams Lake — is currently permitted under provincial health guidelines surrounding the pandemic.
“I’m planning on clocking maybe 15 kilometres on that day,” Hutchings said. “But it’s totally up to people to do whatever they’re comfortable with.”
Walkers can then submit their videos focusing on this year’s theme of ‘Strength, Hope and Courage’ to the hashtags #KidneyWalkCanada, #KidneyBCBrand and #kidneywalkcanada_tweets.
Currently, 214 participants are registered across Canada spread across 46 teams —a number Hutchings would like to see rise by walk time.
“Then hopefully next year, once this COVID thing is all over, we can do a big (in person) celebration.”