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Be a superhero at signupforlife.ca

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It’s hard to believe but it will be a year this month since Transplant Manitoba’s signupforlife.ca website was first launched.

The website is intended to make potential donors’ wishes easier to access. Not everyone who is brought into the hospital, after all life-saving efforts have failed, can be a donor. Not everyone has that old blue card with them.

Through signupforlife.ca, your wish to be a donor can be easily accessed and you could go on to save many lives.

In the last year, more than 7,000 heroes have signed up but, considering our province’s population, that is still a very small number.

The kidney is the one organ a human can donate while he or she is still alive. Most of us are born with two working kidneys but we can live perfectly normal lives with just one. When someone decides to donate one of his or her kidneys to a matched recipient he or she is called a living donor.

A handful of people have had tests to determine if they could be living kidney donors for me. They have all had the right blood types  but my body has antibodies that would attack their kidneys. So that leaves me to continue waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor.

Nowadays, though, people on wait lists for kidneys have another alternative — the Paired Exchange program. In this program, a person like me, who has a willing living donor who isn’t matched, can arrange for that donor to give to a recipient who does match. In exchange, I will receive a kidney from someone who is a perfect match for me.

Sound confusing? It’s actually pretty simple and quite amazing.

My boyfriend Rick (my common law husband/fiancé, since we are now officially engaged) is making the ultimate sacrifice. He is going into the Paired Exchange program and will give away one of his kidneys. In return, I will get a kidney back.

Rick has gone through a series of easy tests in the past couple of months to make sure he is a healthy candidate. In the next couple of weeks, his tests will wrap up and it will officially be a go.

Hopefully, Rick and I will make it to the May deadline for pairing up kidneys in the program.

We could end up with a straight exchange between us and another couple or this initiative could start a chain of matchups resulting in a number of people getting kidneys.

I realize there may not be a match for me this time and I will continue my wait.

In the meantime, in honour of the one-year anniversary of its creation, I am asking people to visit signupforlife.ca and to become organ donors.

A small gesture could change someone’s life forever.

Jennifer Laferriere is a community correspondent for Garden City.

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