Alive to Strive grant recipient Hélène Lavoie received a new kidney this past May 16, 2013 from her longtime friend Marcel Duguay. Both Hélène and Marcel are recovering well after the procedure.
Hélène lived with kidney disease for many years. Over the last two years, her health declined as her kidney disease progressed. Determined to regain strength and maintain her wellbeing, Hélène applied for and received a fitness grant from Alive to Strive in 2013. With the support from the grant, Hélène got the health boost she needed to increase her eligibility for a kidney transplant, as well as aide in her recovery from the transplant surgery.
“Receiving this grant and participating in the Alive to Strive Race in April gave me hope. I felt a sense of belonging and community. I was not alone, and I realized that we are many battling for the same cause,” reflected Hélène before her surgery.
Hélène’s positive outlook follows a long process that saw her overcome several obstacles. Last December, a close friend announced that he wished to donate a kidney. Following the donor testing process, her friend learned that he had an aneurysm and would not be an eligible donor. During this time, a mutual friend, Marcel Duguay, heard this news and, inspired by Hélène’s determination and courage, decided to come forward as a potential donor. For a second time, Hélène was overwhelmed by the generosity of others.
While Marcel underwent preliminary tests to determine his compatibility as a donor, Hélène kept up with her training regime. Despite her fatigue, Hélène was determined to be in top health for her surgery. During this time, both she and Marcel participated in the one kilometer walk at the Alive to Strive Race on April 28. The next week Hélène received the phone call telling her that she would undergo the transplant surgery on May 16.
“They wanted me at the hospital the day before the surgery. With nothing to do but wait, I knew I wanted to use this time to give back to Alive to Strive. I decided to wear my Alive to Strive race shirt to the hospital. I wanted to tell people about this amazing organization that helped me to stay motivated and healthy,” Hélène said. “When I told Marcel about my plans, he told me that he too would wear his race shirt to the hospital. It was a wonderful moment together at the hospital.”
“When we receive such a gift, like the kidney donation or the fitness grant from Alive to Strive, we must work hard to honor and recognize these incredible people who believe in the gift of life,” added Hélène.