Reema Garcha (left) donated a kidney to her sister Binn Johal last year. Submitted photo

‘Don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney’: B.C. women share transplant journey

Langley’s Reema Garcha donated her kidney to her sister Binn Johal in 2018

According to BC Transplant, 502 lives were saved in 2018 by organ donation, and this February marks the one-year anniversary of a life-saving kidney donation that came from Langley.

Last year, Willoughby’s Reema Garcha underwent a live kidney transplant to donate the organ to her older sister Binn Johal who lives in North Delta.

Ten years ago, when she was 36, Johal was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Vasculitus. Over time, the condition worsened and eventually Johal developed kidney disease.

And then in 2017, Johal’s doctor suggested she begin searching for a kidney donor.

“I always knew I was going to need a kidney, I just didn’t know when. And she [Garcha] always used to say to me ‘don’t worry sis, my kidney’s your kidney,’” explained Johal.

READ MORE: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

After Johal’s family underwent a thorough testing process, it was revealed that Garcha was the only match.

“I was so excited. It was like living a life with purpose – to be able to know you can save your sister’s life. I didn’t feel scared at all to be honest, and I’ve got two young children as well. It was all about doing the right thing and being so thankful that I was a match,” said Garcha.

The two women went for surgery on Feb. 26, 2018, at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, and both agreed it was an “amazing” experience with attentive staff.

They are both in good health now, and Johal added, “I feel so much better, [have] way more energy, and I can eat food I couldn’t eat before.”

Garcha said she feels no different with one less kidney, and is “functioning perfectly.”

“I’d never know the difference,” she added.

Before moving to the Lower Mainland in their late teens, Garcha and Johal grew up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

Garcha, who is five years younger than Johal, said the age gap meant they “wern’t super close growing up,” but over time and into adulthood, the sisters developed “a very powerful bond.”

“Now knowing I was able to do this for her, and there’s been no indication of rejection, it’s a great feeling. If I had another kidney to donate, even to a random stranger, I would,” added Garcha.

According to Garcha, Johal’s kidney is the second transplant in their family, as years ago, a cousin received a heart transplant.

“We’re very appreciative of the whole donation side of things” Garcha said.

“I don’t want to be buried with any organ in my life. The purpose once I’m passed is to give life to others.”

Johal said her and Garcha are going to volunteer with The Kidney Foundation to “raise awareness and give back to the community.”

“I’m fortunate enough to get a kidney. A lot of people are not. To be on dialysis is not a good thing, some people don’t make it waiting and the quality of life is just deteriorating as you’re waiting,” explained Johal.

The 502 lives saved by organ donation in B.C. this year set a new record for total number of transplants in a calendar year.

“I’m proud to celebrate the selfless act of donation from so many British Columbians,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This record number of transplants is a testament to the spirit of our residents, who gave the greatest gift of all last year—the chance at a new life for others.”

In addition to an overall organ record, a kidney transplant milestone was also reached in 2018 with 339 transplants, including 100 living donors like Garcha.

For more information on organ donation in B.C., visit Transplant BC’s website.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Families learn to navigate the perils of the Internet

Speaker talks to Campbell River kids, parents about staying safe in a social media world

‘Priceless’ hat stolen from Indigenous art store in Campbell River during break-in

Ernie Smith, co-owner of Awatin Aboriginal Art, looking for help in recovering stolen hat

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

BC Hydro increasing flow down Elk Falls to assist steelhead migration and spawning

Water flows within Elk Falls Canyon are increasing today to assist steelhead… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could say the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read