A former Sylvan Lake resident is in for an extraordinary and unusual Christmas gift this December from her father.
For the last two years it’s all Stephanie Verbeek, 21, had hoped for and on Dec. 2nd, she will get the gift of a life time from her dad, Desmond – one of his kidneys.
Stephanie, now living in Edmonton, to be closer to her dialysis centre and the hospital as her kidney transplant nears, began experiencing issues with her kidneys at age 16.
She remembers feeling tired, explaining it was the kind of tired that sleep couldn’t fix. No matter how much she slept, still her fatigue stayed put. It wasn’t until her legs began to swell to be quite large one day that her mother decided it was time for her to visit the doctor.
A string of tests and doctor visit ensued with no results stemming. Finally Verbeek and her mother visited the right doctor, who performed the right test – informing the then teenage that her kidneys were failing.
“I could just sleep and sleep and sleep – I would sleep all day,” She remembers. “My mom finally took me to the doctor. They ran a bunch of tests and they found out it was kidney failure, then just recently we found out that there is a gene missing in my body and that’s what is causing my kidney failure.”
She began her dialysis treatment and for the past two years has been spending four hours a day in the hospital three times a week.
“You do get used to it, but you don’t at the same time,” she said of dialysis. “I’m used to it in the sense that I know how my body will react and what it will do, but in the same sense you never get used to having to take the time out of your day to go in and sit there for four hours – it’s so hard to live on something like that.”
This means it is near impossible for Verbeek to work and post-secondary education is out of the question until after her transplant.
Verbeek explained she plans to attend hair school following her healing from the transplant.
She added it has been a long and trying road to transplant and that she is incredibly thankful for her father.
“They gave us the okay for me to start telling my family they could get their kidneys tested to see if their blood matched mine and he was the first one to go in and get tested and was also a blood match so they just kept going from there and it turns out he’s going to be giving me my kidney,” she explained. “I was completely speechless – I had no idea what to say and I still thank him every single day. I thank everyone every day for all of the support they have shown me.
“If I wasn’t to get this kidney I would be living on dialysis for the rest of my life or waiting for an organ donor transplant which can take years.”
Her father Desmond said when he found out he was a match, it wasn’t a matter of if he would be giving her his kidney but rather when.
“It wasn’t a hard decision for me to make at all,” explained Desmond. “I had went in there and said I would give her my kidney no matter what – that’s what a dad does. Now that it’s getting a little closer it’s a little nerve racking, I worry about her mostly,
“There was excitement there for me to be able to go into the operation beside her and not just sit back and have to watch her go through it again – I can take her by the hand and we can go in it together. This time I kind of feel like it’s a team effort and from a father’s perspective that feels nice.”
Desmond said he is proud of his young daughter for taking her dialysis ‘like a trooper’, adding he hopes he is able to provide for her his daughter a life free from the hospital waiting room.
Currently the Verbeek family has set up a GoFundMe page for Stephanie to help alleviate the financial burden she may face following surgery as she will be unable to work for another three months following the transplant. Visit the family’s go fund me page at www.gofundme.com/p48vvvxg or by Google searching ‘Fundraiser for Stephanie Verbeek.’