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

About 80 demonstrators walked through Hope with signs in support of saving the Station House on March 23, 2021. (Photo/Christian Ward)
Public hearing now planned for Hope’s Station House decision

Council has now taken steps to remove heritage status from historic building

Chilliwack General Hospital. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)
Chilliwack General Hospital gets all-clear from Fraser Health as outbreak ends

The latest outbreak was 20 days from the start, on March 25, to being declared over on April 13

GW Graham (SD33.bc.ca)
Entire class at Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham secondary school in isolation after exposure to COVID-19

Students have been told to remain home after four days of exposure last week

Cemetery staff installed the wrong headstone on the grave of Jima Kiir, even though the headstone’s photo did not match with the photo placed on the grave. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mother upset city placed wrong headstone on son’s grave

Cemetery staff mix up graves of 2 recently deceased men from South Sudanese community

View looking south from Mt. Archibald, taking in the proposed ski terrain of Bridal Veil Mountain Resort, with Mt. Mercer (centre left) and Mt. Thurston (centre right, shrouded in cloud).
Ambitious all-season mountain resort proposed near Chilliwack

Proponents say Bridal Veil Mountain Resort could cover 11,500 acres bring in $252 million a year

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward
1 in 3 young Canadians have given up on owning a home: poll

Data released Monday says 36% of adults younger than 40 have given up on home ownership entirely

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there should be no travel, even to the next city over

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Most Canadians plan to get COVID-19 vaccine, but safety fears drive hesitancy: poll

This comes as confidence in governments is plummeting in provinces being hit hardest by the pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Marathon of Hope runner Terry Fox is shown in a 1981. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/CP)
Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

Fred Fox said his brother’s legacy of resilience has taken on renewed resonance as COVID-19 rages on

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

Most Read