Nearly 40 years after hanging up his shoes, a former college football player is set to donate a kidney to his then-coach, who is suffering from end-stage renal failure.
“It’s an overly generous gesture on his part. It prolongs my life and will enable me to see my grandchildren longer,” says Jocelyn Beauvillier, touched.
The retired sports teacher has had to undergo dialysis every night for two years because of his end-stage kidney failure.
He had been on the Transplant Québec waiting list for a kidney transplant for several months when he went to a “reunion day” last June bringing together former Trappeurs du Collège football team player Marie-Victorin.
There he met Patrice Lortie, whom he had trained in 1985 and 1986 and whom he had not seen since.
“I noticed that he was not doing well at all. Despite that, he was an energetic person, in great shape, a real football coach!” says Mr Lortie, who is a secondary school French teacher.
The two athletes quickly discovered that they had the same blood type, O negative. According to Héma-Québec, only 7% of Quebecers have it.
A host of tests followed to determine if Patrice Lortie’s kidneys were compatible with those of the former coach.
“They checked everything to make sure both kidneys were pumping the same thing, they had to be equal. Everything was beautiful, everything was good,” explains Mr Lortie, 57 years old.
In mid-January, he first met the surgeon at McGill University Health Center (MUHC), who will remove his right kidney. The surgery is scheduled to take place in March.
The operation was expected to take around three and a half hours, the hospital stay three days and recovery six weeks.
“We are very happy! We want to continue. I’m afraid a little [cette opération]because I’ve never had an operation. I don’t know exactly how my body will react,” says Mr Lortie, who says the risk of complications is only one in 3,000.
Last year, MUHC performed 115 kidney transplants, 17 of which were from living donors.
In Canada, 26% of kidney transplants are from living donors, according to the latest data from the Canadian Organ Failure and Transplant Registry. Almost half of the living donors are not relatives of the recipient, it is said.
“It’s a godsend. Living organ donation is an extraordinary gesture. It moves me a lot,” says Mr Beauvillier, his throat tightening with emotion.
“I wouldn’t do it for anyone, but Jocelyn deserves to be done for them,” says Mr. Lortie.
“He was a very committed person, not only on the field but also off it. He has helped many young people who have encountered family difficulties or problems other than in sports, ”he emphasizes.
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