‘There wasn’t a second thought’: Brothers promoting living organ donation

A Manitoba man who received a living kidney donation from his brother is wanting people to be aware that the option is available.

When he was 10 years old, Kevin Settee, an Anishinaabe/Cree photographer and filmmaker from the Fisher River Cree Nation, was diagnosed with kidney disease.

“It was pretty difficult as a 10-year-old to be told that you have kidney disease, and now your life has changed,” Kevin said.

He endured dialysis and other treatments to manage his disease over the years, something that was hard for his brother Craig, now 37, to witness. It prompted him, when he was older to start doing tests to see if he could be a living donor for his brother.

“There wasn’t a second thought to put my name in the hat and go through that whole process,” Craig said.

Kevin noted there were more than 20 people who wished to donate their kidney to him, but Craig was chosen as the best match for blood and tissue. At 22, Kevin received the donation from Craig.

Ten years later, Kevin’s appreciation for life is still around.

“I’m thankful that I’m able to raise my kids in a healthy way, and that I’m healthy that I can spend time with them and, you know, not be limited by dialysis,” he said. “You know, maybe I wouldn’t even be here if I didn’t get a kidney transplant for my brother. So, yeah, every day I’m just I’m thankful and I try to stay healthy.”

Kevin has joined an awareness campaign for living organ donation called Great Actions Leave a Mark. He has met with Indigenous Manitoba recipients and living donors to hear their stories and capture photos.

“They’re all amazing,” he said. “They’re mind-blowing, some of the stories, and there are a lot of amazing people who have been living donors.”

According to the Can-Solve CKD Network, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is three times higher in Indigenous communities compared to non-Indigenous communities.

“Access to transplants needs to be raised as well for Indigenous communities, because we do, unfortunately, represent a much higher percentage of that end-stage kidney disease and CKD,” said Craig.

The campaign encourages people to become living organ donors, noting it offers a shorter path to transplants and less wait time for people in need.

“There is not enough organs from deceased donors to fill the need to help people with CKD and with transplants,” Craig said.

More information about organ donation can be found online. 

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