Tsilhqot’in mountain racer, logger needs kidney transplant

Xeni Gwet’in rider Howard Lulua (front) is introduced along with other competitors in the 2019 Saturday Mountain Race at the Williams Lake Stampede. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)Xeni Gwet’in rider Howard Lulua (front) is introduced along with other competitors in the 2019 Saturday Mountain Race at the Williams Lake Stampede. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Howard Lulua, left, his daughter Jolie and wife Amanda Lulua. (Gailene William photo)Howard Lulua, left, his daughter Jolie and wife Amanda Lulua. (Gailene William photo)

Being diagnosed with stage five chronic kidney disease caught Howard Lulua of 150 Mile House off guard.

“I found out about December 23 and am in Kamloops now training to do the dialysis for myself at home,” the 38-year-old Tsilhqot’in mountain racer and logging operator from the community of Xeni Gwet’in First Nation told the Tribune Friday.

He said he will be assessed on Monday to see if he is taking care of himself well enough that he can go home and continue with his treatment there.

Dialysis is the process of removing excess water, solutes and toxins from the blood in people whose kidneys can no longer perform the function naturally. It is also referred to as renal replacement therapy.

After each treatment the body gets very cold.

While he is the first member of his family to experience kidney failure, Howard said in recent years he had a few horse wrecks and about four years ago some of his health started to “go down hill.”

Normally he operates a processor for ?Esdilagh Development Corporation and has been finding it a challenge to be inactive.

READ MORE: Xeni Gwet’in wild horses and riders featured in History channel documentary series

His wife Amanda has been travelling back and forth to Kamloops with him.

She said they have an 11-year-old daughter, Jolie, and she went once to Kamloops with them but found it difficult.

“Luckily my parents are retired and live at the 50 and she’s been staying with them when Howard has been down in Kamloops or I am working,” said Amanda, who works as a blaster at Gibraltar Mine.

Howard has been on several medications and they were trying to manage his kidneys with his diet.

“He is on the kidney transplant list now. He has some upcoming video calls with the transplant clinic in Vancouver so hopefully there is something there.”

His brother, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Jimmy Lulua is also exploring the possibility of donating a kidney to him.

When Lala Cripps, who knows Howard and his family through rodeo and brandings, saw that Bryan Poffenroth donated a horse bit to be auctioned off to help with medical expenses and travel, she contacted Amanda to say she would like to donate some items.

Realizing that Amanda would have enough on her plate to worry about, Lala offered to start an online auction through Facebook.

“She discussed it with Howard, and he said ‘take the help,” Lala said Friday.

What started out with the bit from Bryan and few hand-made items from Lala quickly grew and she created the Benefit Auction for Howard Lulua Facebook page.

“It took off from there and it’s been quite overwhelming. They have a huge network of friends and a community that has really stepped up to help. It’s been a huge honour to help them,” she said. “The horse world is a cool community that steps up to help each other. I’ve really gotten to know Amanda really well.”

The auction will close of Friday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

Lala also hopes through the fundraiser they will raise awareness for the need for kidney donors.

“We wish Howard all the best and that he gets a kidney and the dialysis will help keep him healthy enough until the time he is able to get a donation.”

READ MORE: Williams Lake Kidney Walk participants raise thousands



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