“Everyone who I tell my story to is just amazed.”
For over half of his life, Alex Dudgeon, 29, has been a regular patient at Health Sciences Centre. At 13, barely an adolescent, Dudgeon received news that would dictate the course of his life.
After Dudgeon’s family doctor spent a year trying to diagnose him, a doctor at HSC quickly concluded that Dudgeon suffered from granulomatosis with polyangiitis, formerly called Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare, multisystem autoimmune disease of unknown cause that results in kidney failure. At 17, when teenagers often get their first car, Dudgeon received his first kidney transplant.
“My post-transplant care was excellent—HSC was very diligent,” says Dudgeon.
After recovering at HSC for a month after his operation, Dudgeon found himself back under HSC’s care—this time with a broken neck, shoulder blade, and leg—and down a quarter of his blood—from a car accident.
“My leg looked like an eaten chicken wing! If it weren’t for the people at HSC, I wouldn’t have a leg,” says Dudgeon.
Fortunately, after another month of recuperating at HSC—and multiple plastic surgeries on his leg—Dudgeon was able to get back in the driver’s seat. Unfortunately, Dudgeon also found himself back on dialysis a little over three years ago as kidney transplants can fail for many different reasons, including rejection, recurrent disease, new kidney disease, and infections.
“The hardest thing you can hear when you’ve had a transplant is the talk of dialysis again. However, when things started failing, HSC preserved as much of the kidney as possible.”
Dudgeon’s ties to HSC go deeper yet. Just before returning to dialysis, Dudgeon looked death in the eye after returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic. Dudgeon caught a bug while overseas, rendering him critically ill and again under the care of HSC.
“Everyone who I tell my story to is just amazed,” says Dudgeon.
An electrician by trade, Dudgeon had to hang up his pliers while he waits for another transplant. The average wait for a kidney is 11 years, although the wait will likely be longer for Dudgeon due to antibodies as a result of his prior transplant and surgeries. In the interim, Dudgeon founded and runs Doodles4Dialysis, a social enterprise that improves the quality of life for dialysis patients.
“This situation has tested my grit when it comes to how positive I can be. I am an optimistic person, but this has been challenging,” says Dudgeon.
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By Natasha Havrilenko