YARMOUTH - During the years that young Robin Ring saw her father Earl struggling with diabetes, then kidney disease, she became determined to become a nurse. Little did she know she’d eventually end up donating one of her kidneys to him.
There are many stories behind the Sept. 15 walk at the Yarmouth Mariners Centre to raise funds for the Kidney Foundation.
Yarmouth County residents Earl and Polly Ring have been married for 28 years and during that time have dealt with many health-related issues. Earl was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 26, when Robin was a baby. He was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2006, shortly after having a heart attack that required surgery. This led to an aortic valve replacement and double bypass in 2013.
He spent a few months on dialysis then but was very fortunate to get off and return to work and his life. For several more years, he maintained a low kidney function, but in August 2016 found himself once again needing dialysis. This time it was three times per week, four hours a day.
The family realized there would be no reprieve without a transplant.
He attended dialysis treatments in the evening so he could continue working. This was challenging, although he adjusted and tried to continue as normal a life as possible.
Earl wants those on dialysis to hold on to hope for a transplant and to stay strong on those difficult days.
Being the daughter of a father with a chronic illness fuelled a strong desire in Robin to pursue a career in nursing. She attended the Dalhousie School of Nursing and works as an RN on the cardiovascular unit at Yarmouth Regional Hospital. From the age of 18, she has wanted to donate a kidney to her father. “We always said no – get your education, get married, have kids – live your life,” said Earl.
When her dad found himself again on dialysis, Robin pushed to donate a kidney to him. The family reluctantly agreed and she began the testing when her youngest baby turned one. A few months later, the family was pleased to discover that she was an excellent match.
The surgery took place last November and changed Earl’s life. Robin returned to work after a quick recovery and is as busy as ever with her two children, two step-children and her husband Jon.
Knowing how he felt on dialysis and wanting to give back, Earl was thrilled to walk with Polly in the 2017 Kidney Walk and now the 2018 Kidney Walk. He’s also volunteering with the NS Renal Program of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Earl and Robin continue to spread awareness of the great need for live organ donation.
“It is such an honour to be the honorary chair family. We hope that many people will join our family for the Sept. 15 Kidney Walk. Every dollar raised helps,” said Earl.
The annual Kidney Walks are the cornerstone of the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s fundraising efforts. With every step, participants help support innovative research and vital programs to improve the lives of the one in 10 Canadians living with kidney disease.
Patients, their families and caregivers, along with medical professionals and the general public, participate to raise awareness and funds for those affected by kidney disease across the country.
Nova Scotians are encouraged to connect with the kidney community in this province by creating a team, including their family, friends, coworkers, and neighbours, registering online and then starting to fundraise. Corporate and individual registrations are also welcome.
How to participate
Registration is at 10 a.m. at the Mariners Centre, with the walk starting at 11 a.m.
Participants will receive a free Kidney Walk T-shirt for collecting over $100 in pledges, and everyone who raises $250 will receive a ballot for a chance to win an iPad Mini.