In 2004, sales rep Ken Cowie of Re/Max 2000 Realty in Surrey, B.C. gave a life-saving kidney to fellow sales rep Paul Belhumeur. Recently Re/Max of Western Canada created a video to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the donation.
In the September 2004 issue of REM, Laurie Dawson, communications co-ordinator for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, wrote:
It all started (in 1994) when Belhumeur, 51, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary illness that slowly destroys the kidneys’ ability to function. When Belhumeur found out three years ago that he’d need a transplant in two years, he had to be proactive. “I had to get the word out because waiting for someone to die can take as long as seven years.” So Belhumeur, a calm, steady-as-he-goes kind of guy, started a regular and very forward e-mail campaign appealing to every person he knew.
His colleagues, including Cowie, 44, got every one of those emails. He brazenly admits he read them and deleted them for a year and a half. “When someone isn’t that sick, it’s not urgent. But when I got the one indicating he was down to only 30 per cent function, well, I thought geez… I should at least check into this.” He wasn’t the only person from the office investigating blood type compatibility; however, he was the only one with a perfect “match”. Cowie, in his engaging, out-going way, describes how he felt when he found out. “Bummer! My blood type is the same! What do I do now?”
What he did was start the long, extremely thorough process of being tested to find out if he could be the donor. He says there was never a specific moment when he knew, it was more like a feeling of inevitability gnawing at him as the tests moved along and he “passed” each one. He knew that he was “the one” before Belhumeur did. ‘I held it to myself for two weeks so I could tell Paul on his birthday. He knew that I had been tested already; so, I simply told him, ‘Paul, everything’s a go, when do you want to do it?’”
Belhumeur says that he was in a little bit of shock. They were standing in a small office with a couple of cups of coffee. “What do you say when someone says I’m going to do this for you? Anything you say is inadequate. All I could do is promise him; I’ll always look after it.”
When asked if there’s anything more he’d like to add, Belhumeur says, “Tell people to register to be an organ donor, please.”