When Ryan Mclennan's wife presented him with a unique way to find a kidney donation match, he first thought her idea was completely nuts.
CTV Calgary first spoke with him about his campaign of billboards seeking a donor in February of this year.
He says that the next day after the story came out, he went into surgery and ended up becoming very sick.
“I realized that this could not be any better timing; the billboards. Because I realized how much help I really did need.”
At first, Mclennan says he didn’t know how he felt about releasing the personal details about his medical condition, but now he’s happy because there have been positive results.
170 people ended up calling in to inquire about the campaign and 50 of those people filled out applications. 30 of those applicants were tested and by the end, Tony Timmons, a man who had never met Mclennan before now, was found to be a match.
He says he saw the billboard while driving and decided to immediately call in.
“There’s people waiting for organs that are dying and, you know, I’ve got two, so why not?”
It was a simple blood test to find out if he was a match with Mclennan but it did involve a long period of waiting.
“You then have to do a bunch of blood tests after that to make sure that his blood actually matches with my blood. It did, so let the process begin.”
He says that the answer about why he is donating is pretty simple.
“I’d want someone to do it for me. That’s basically the way I was looking at it.”
Mclennan said that he’s glad that a match was found because at first he didn’t have much hope at all.
“I figured this was going to be life and I was going to be on dialysis forever.”
He says that going through the procedure with Timmons is very different.
“It’s not your brother, it’s not your mom, it’s not your uncle and they’re not telling you every second, ‘oh, I’m going for this tomorrow and I’m going for this’. You don’t have that deep connection.”
He says that now he has a bond with Timmons, beyond the physical connection they share through the organ donation.
“He’s just an amazing person, I don’t think I’ve met anyone like him before.”
Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, southern Alberta chapter, says that for people who need organ donations, they are going to great lengths to get the word out.
“It moves people, maybe people have always thought about becoming an organ donor upon their own death when they no longer need any of their organs, but they haven’t taken any positive action about it.”
She adds that’s not as rare as people think when two strangers are found to be a match, but it still is a miracle that Ryan will get the help he needs.
“Behind each miracle of a successful transplant is the donor and the donor is always the hero.”
Van Deurzen says she encourages anyone seeking a kidney donation to do all they can to get the word out so they can find a match of their own.
(With files from Brenna Rose)