Sarnia woman turns to social media for kidney donor

Heather Williamson. (Submitted photo)

A Sarnia woman who is used to helping others is now asking for help so that she can live a “normal life”.

Heather Williamson, 40, is being treated for kidney failure and has been on dialysis since February 2019. She currently receives dialysis treatment three times a week for four hours at a time.

A Facebook group called “Kidney for Heather” was recently created in an effort to find a person willing to donate an organ. Williamson said the donor would need to have an A or O blood type.

“This is very hard for me to do because I don’t ask for help,” she said.

Williamson said some people spend years waiting for an organ transplant. However, if she were to receive a kidney from a deceased donor, Williamson would have to remain on dialysis longer so she’s hopeful for a live donor.

“If I get a living donor, I can be off of dialysis within the year,” she said. “If I get a live kidney, I’ll be able to be with my family more, be out in the community more, I’ll be able to live a normal life, I’ll be able to travel, and just generally be well.”

With the amount of treatment Williamson receives regularly, she’s sick every other day.

Williamson said she understands that it is a lot to ask someone to donate an organ but remains hopeful.

“I don’t want anybody to be pressured because it is a big step. It is major surgery,” she said. “I want somebody to feel comfortable if they do decide to do it.”

Williamson has had health issues since she was five years old. She got E. coli after drinking unpasteurized goat milk during a school field trip to a farm. After that, Williamson spent months in hospital.

Now at 40 years old, Williamson said she wants to live a life that involves family outings, working, and traveling.

For now, Williamson does what she can to help her family members by scheduling online grocery orders but would like to do more. Prior to being on dialysis, Williamson was also heavily involved with the Sarnia Legionnaires. Her father, Bob Williamson, was the general manager of the local Junior B hockey team.

“That had to stop when I started dialysis. I would volunteer at the games,” she said. “I was just very outgoing.”

Several members of the Legionnaires have reached out to Williamson and she has also received support through the Facebook page.

At this point, Williamson said there are no plans to host a donor clinic but it is a possibility for the future.

Anyone interested in donating or getting more information can contact University Hospital’s living donor transplant program in London at (519) 685-8500 ext. 33552 or email livingkidneydonation@lhsc.on.ca. Questions can also be sent to Williamson via the Facebook page.