This year marks his 20th year with his second kidney
In 1982, Ravinder Parmar of Prince Rupert was a young husband and father, not yet 30, when his world was turned upside down with news that his kidneys were failing. His crisis point came in the fall of that year when his blood pressure rose to dangerous levels and he needed to be flown by medevac from Prince Rupert to St. Paul’s.
Upon his arrival at St. Paul’s, Dr. Angus Rae, then head of the Renal Unit, conducted tests on Ravinder and found that his kidneys were operating at 20% capacity. While medication brought Ravinder’s blood pressure back to normal, he would need hemodialysis.
Ravinder took a training program at St. Paul’s that enabled him to do his hemodialysis at home in Prince Rupert. However, given that Ravinder was still so young, Dr. Rae advised him that his best option was a kidney transplant, so he got on the waiting list.
In the mid-1980s, there was only a single small transplant program at VGH. In order to meet the increasing need for kidney transplants for BC patients, Dr. Rae began work to establish a kidney program at St. Paul’s, which would ultimately open its doors in 1986.
After having spent ten months on the waiting list, and having been on hemodialysis for two years, Ravinder was the recipient of the first kidney transplant at St. Paul’s on April 20, 1986, in a procedure performed by Dr. Manson.
Kind words for his caregivers
Ravinder speaks highly of Dr. Rae and Dr. Manson, as well as Marie-Lou Hales, who was the nursing coordinator at St. Paul’s at the time. He also fondly remembers the “young guy, a very smart chap, from Toronto,” who came to Vancouver to start the clinic at St. Paul’s with Dr. Rae. This was Dr. David Landsberg, who is now director of the Renal Program at St. Paul’s and who cares for Ravinder to this day.
Ravinder’s first transplanted kidney lasted for nearly 12 years before it began to fail. Dr. Landsberg put Ravinder on the waiting list once again and, three years later, on February 11, 1997, Ravinder had his second kidney transplant.
“This kidney has never given me any problems,” says Ravinder. “So I would say Dr. Landsberg was right when he told me at the time that I was being a given ‘a really good kidney!’”
Ravinder commends the ongoing care he has received, over decades now, and believes it is a reason why he has remained in good health.
“David is such a wonderful doctor,” he says of Dr. Landsberg. “He always has the latest information on improvements in medication, yet at the same time, he sees that my body has adapted well to my original medication and has felt no pressure to change it. This is because over the years he has paid such close attention and taken such good care of me.”
Ravinder fondly remembers a gift given to him by Dr. Rae, who is now retired and is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Medicine at UBC.
Dr. Rae would travel across BC to visit patients who were doing hemodialysis in their homes. During a visit to Ravinder’s home, Dr. Rae, an amateur photographer, took several photos of Ravinder and his wife, Gurmeet. In recovery after his transplant, Ravinder was deeply moved when Dr. Rae presented the photos, framed, to Ravinder and Gurmeet as a gift. The photos hang in the Parmar home to this day.
That physicians such as Dr. Landsberg and Dr. Rae “do so much more” is why Ravinder believes people become so attached to St. Paul’s and consider it such a special place.
“For the past 30 years,” says Ravinder, “I have been able to work and be happy and live a good life and I owe that to St. Paul’s, Dr. Rae, Dr. Landsberg, Dr. Manson and their teams. My wife and I have many memories of our son, from the time he was two, playing in the hallways of St. Paul’s, we spent so much time there. But the staff are so special that these are very fond memories, even though I was very ill at the time.”
For many years, Ravinder has been a loyal financial donor to St. Paul’s and asks that people make donations to support patient care. He also urges everyone to become organ donors to help shorten wait lists—and to enable others to have a good life as Ravinder himself has been so fortunate to enjoy.