Sylvan Lake resident Lexie Libby had been losing hope of ever finding a compatible living kidney donor.
That all changed when her younger sister, Emma, told her she had made some life changes and passed the tests to become her donor.
Lexie was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the kidneys, when she was four years old in 1994.
Approximately eight years ago, she was told a kidney transplant would be needed, and it would be ideal if it came from a family member, as there would be less chance of the kidney being rejected.
Many family members tried, but none made it passed the first test: blood pressure.
“They test the blood pressure, because after the surgery, your blood pressure spikes and they need to make sure that when it does spike, it wouldn’t be in a dangerously high range,” explained Emma.
For Lexie, seeing family member after family member be told they were an unsuitable match was disheartening.
She said she was beginning to lose hope of ever finding a donor.
“I was spiralling into a dark place and I was becoming more and more hopeless with each failed test,” said Lexie.
When Emma was told she wouldn’t be able to be considered a donor, she took a look at her life and started to make lifestyle changes.
The biggest change was quitting smoking.
“I did that almost immediately. But I also started to do other little things, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator,” Emma said. “I also stopped drinking as much, which I didn’t realize until just now.”
After being denied the first time, Emma had to wait a minimum of six months to begin the process again.
During this time, she told no one what she was doing.
“I didn’t want to get her hopes up again, just in case it didn’t work out again,” said Emma. “I knew that each failed test hurt her.”
Lexie said she was shocked when Emma came to her after passing the blood pressure test.
“I had no idea she was doing that for me… I have hope again because of what she was willing to do for me,” said Lexie. “I mean she’s my baby sister, I’m supposed to be protecting her and here she is protecting me.”
After the surgery, which is scheduled for later this month, and the healing process, Lexie and Emma hope to return to school and finish their education.
Emma is looking to go into nursing.
“Growing up with Lexie, I was always fascinated by all the medical aspects… This has just sort of cemented that I want to help in this way,” Emma said.
The entire ordeal has shown them and their entire family how important organ donors are.
“I had no idea it would be this difficult to find an organ donor. I thought on numerous occasions this whole process felt impossible,” said Lexie.
Emma says the choice to donate a kidney to her sister was an easy one.
“I have two good kidneys and I only need one; Lexie needed the other,” she said, adding she has signed her donor card.