Vera's Story

February 3 is my kidney day but it is also my birthday, so on my 51st birthday an angel delivered my gift all wrapped up in a miracle. I call it my 'pocket kidney.'

It was a cold Tuesday afternoon on February 3, 2009, when I got the call, “Don’t run any red lights, but get here, we have a kidney for you. My name is Vera Iachetta from Rawdon, Quebec, a country community about 85 km north of Montreal.

February 3 is my kidney day but it is also my birthday, so on my 51st birthday an angel delivered my gift all wrapped up in a miracle. I call it my ‘pocket kidney’, because when I put my hand in my pocket I know I am blessed.

For the first time, I participated in the 6th Canadian Transplant Games held in Calgary, Alberta in July, 2012. I lost my sister, Ann, to cancer in March 2010 and although at the end, her frail body was consumed by the cancer, she was able to donate her eyes so others could see. I wanted to participate in her honour, so others could see the importance of transplantation and donation. I never thought I would be part of an Olympic-style competition with very different rules. First of all, no age restrictions, every competitor was between the ages of 7 and 78 inclusive. It’s normal for competitors to test positive for drugs. Through transplantation and donation, every participant has reached gold even before they compete. Last place gets the biggest cheers.

The moment that summed up my experience came at the pool during the swimming competitions when one of the relay teams called themselves ‘The Recycled Teenagers’. We slept in dormitories at University of Calgary, met for breakfast at the dining center, collected our box lunches, rode in school buses, ran, jumped, swam, played, competed, partied, laughed, cheered, cried, and made some new BFFs.......just like teenagers. What an awesome week.

I work at a high school in Joliette, QC and for the past three years I have incorporated the topic of organ and tissue awareness into the curriculum at the secondary 3 level (grade 9). In Quebec, the age of consent to sign a donor card (which is our medicare card) is 14 years old. Participating in the Transplant Games gives me extra ammunition to promote the cause.

After my awesome experience in Calgary, I can definitely say my transplant does define me. It opens doors and gives me opportunities to show others that living life to the fullest is possible after being given a second chance through transplantation and donation. I am living proof, pay it forward. See you all in 2014.