A daughters loving gift offers mom a new lease on life

Mother and daughter say that the experience is one they would not change for anything.

Shelley Cooper (right) is the recipient of a living kidney transplant

Shelley Cooper (right) is the recipient of a living kidney transplant

Back in July of 2013, The Spotlight brought you the story of 22 year old Chantelle Hergott, a young mother of two who made the decision to donate one of her kidneys to her mother, 42 year old Shelley Cooper.

“I have a chance to give mom a better life,” said Hergott, “My kids need their grandma and I need my mom.”

Cooper’s kidneys had reached Stage 5 End Stage Renal Failure/Disease (ESRD), her kidney’s were functioning only at three percent. She had been living on dialysis for five years.

Testing done at Princeton General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, gave doctors the all clear to perform transplant surgery between daughter and mother.

On August 19, 2013 Hergott and Cooper were admitted to St. Paul’s Hospital.

Hergott went into surgery first at about 6 a.m., and woke in recovery at about noon.

Cooper’s surgery was a bit longer, lasting about five hours.

After two days, Hergott got to see her mom, who was already up and walking around. “I was motivated to get out,” said Cooper with a chuckle.

Mother and daughter spent a week recuperating under the care of Uncle Calvin, who drove daily from Cloverdale to Vancouver and Shelley’s husband Rick. “He was amazing,” said Cooper of her husband, “I don’t think I would have made it through without him.”

Hergott returned home to her family and to what she describes as “lots of help and support.” Her husband Preston Hergott, along other family members and friends were awesome with helping with the kids, house and even supplying meals. Her employer Dawn Kastor and co-workers at the Princeton Dollar Store/Bakery were very supportive as well.

Hergott had to take it easy for six weeks, (She says it’s a bit hard to do when you have little ones) but felt well enough to return to work by the end of September.

She  is happy to report that she has, “had no problems, has no stipulations other then a six month check up and then yearly, and does not face any lifestyle changes.”

Cooper had to spend a few months in Vancouver, to be close to doctors care. She did suffer some complications for the first month or so, due to withdrawals from medications she used to have to take and some dehydration issues. “But after that, things turned around,” said Cooper.

She was able to return home to Princeton on October 17.

Cooper will have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of her life and will have frequent check ups for the next three years. She is now free of dialysis and a bunch of medications, has, “a few restrictions, but it’s all good,” she said.

“This is a beautiful thing,” says Cooper, “I am feeling great.” With tears in her eyes, she turns to her daughter and says, “I can’t thank you enough, you have saved my life. I love you dearly.”

“It is a life changing experience,” said Hergott who is teary eyed as well, “It is a precious gift to give someone… and it feels good.”

Mother and daughter say that the experience is one they would not change for anything and they encourage and hope that others will look into organ donation and, “Take the chance to save someone’s life.”

“To have someone so special… to give a piece of herself is amazing,” said Cooper, it has given me a whole new lease on life.” “Everyone deserves one,” adds Hergott.

Any healthy person is eligible to be a living donor—you do not have to be a relative of the recipient. If you are interested in providing someone you love or someone you don’t even know a second chance at a healthier life, talk to your doctor.

More information on the donor registry can be found at www.kidney.ca or www.transplant.ca.

In Canada, there are approximately 4500 people waiting for organ transplant surgeries. 72 percent of those people are waiting for a kidney transplant.