At 35 years of age, Bowen Islander Monika Sabathil was diagnosed with a kidney disease called Glomerulonephritis, a condition, she says, that she has probably had since she was a teenager and may not have ever been diagnosed in earlier times. Still, the diagnosis came as a shock for the mother of three small children.
“The medication was very strong, and made me feel horrible,” she says. “But after a year, my prescription changed and my health stabilized. I was basically able to lead a normal, active life.”
That relatively normal life would last nearly 30 years. Then, after several years of feeling constantly cold, Sabathil was told by her doctors that her kidneys (already functioning at one-third of a healthy person’s kidneys) were failing more. She faced the option of going on dialysis and a waiting list for a kidney transplant, or finding someone herself who would act as a donor, and avoiding dialysis altogether.
“In September of 2014, my son made the very generous offer to give up one of his kidneys, and he is one of the healthiest people that I know,” says Sabathil. “So I chose the second option. But as it turns out, he has some kind of heart palpitation that eliminated him from being a candidate.”
With one option eliminated, Sabathil and her husband Sigurd decided to ask for help. They told their story through a nation-wide United Church newsletter, and let their daughter tell the story yet again through Facebook. Through these two requests, they were contacted by five potential donors, each of whom had to withdraw their offers for various reasons.
Sigurd Sabathil says his wife’s health, and her shot at getting a new kidney is his number one concern at all times.
“There is no other priority for me,” he says. “I am very involved in all the tests and I read all of the literature that comes out on this procedure. I have met someone on Bowen Island who gave a kidney, and she told me it was the most rewarding thing she has done....”