Heather Larkam had a feeling. Call it intuition or mother’s instinct, it was unshakeable the moment she met Cindy McLean.
“Yeah, I knew. It was just a gut feeling,” said Larkam, a Campbell River resident.
The two local women were only acquaintances through owning businesses in town.
Larkam was a mom of four whose love of extreme sports had her sky diving, flying fighter jets and bobsledding. While McLean was a grandmother of seven who, being a Type 1 diabetic since she was six years old, lived a life with its health effects.
“In and out of the hospitals lots, seizures lots, gran mal seizures lots,” said Campbell River resident Cindy McLean.
Ten years ago, symptoms escalated to renal failure, and her doctors urged her to go on dialysis. So she set out looking for an organ donor.
“It’s been about ten years I’ve been looking, and then I stopped looking,” said McLean.
Larkam said she’d heard about McLean’s search for a live kidney donor 10 years ago and thought with certainty she was a match. But she had a newborn then and hoped McLean would find someone else.
In November 2021, Larkam’s own son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and knowing what they’d go through, McLean reached out to help. That’s when the now 45-year-old Larkam learned McLean had never met her match for a kidney. So she got herself tested.
And wouldn’t you know, the hospital called last Thursday to say the two women are a perfect match.
“She’s my hero,” said McLean.
“And here we are today. I don’t know how you thank somebody for giving you that chance. For giving you a life,” she said.
According to Larkam, she hopes anyone would do it since people only require one viable kidney to survive and can donate their second kidney to save a life.
“To give her energy and hope and watch her live out her life, it’s a blessing,” said Larkam.
“She’s my angel,” added McLean.
The two are planning for a mid-June transplant operation at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver, where Larkam will give her left kidney to a woman who’d all but given up hope. It’s all thanks to a gut feeling that wouldn’t go away.