When Eileen Zheng wanted to donate one of her kidneys to her mother, family members were at first concerned about the effect of the procedure on both of them.
But five weeks after the surgery, Wei Zheng was recovering from polycystic kidney disease after seven years on kidney dialysis, and Eileen was logging up to 65 km a day on her bicycle. And a year later, Eileen is preparing to ride across Canada to encourage more people to support organ transplants.
“I want to raise awareness, so more people are willing to register after seeing that I’m healthy after donating an organ,” Eileen said at a ceremony at the B.C. legislature to launch the bid Monday. “We’re hoping to raise at least 1,000 more organ donors compared to last year, and around $75,000 for the Canadian Transplant Association, for the life-saving work they do.”
She has three and a half months to make the journey, starting with a Terry Fox-inspired dip of her bike wheel in the Pacific before heading east towards St. Johns, Newfoundland. Eileen’s ride is called Gift From Within has a website where people can link to organ donor registration sites in each province, and her route stops and updates will be posted.
There are more than 45,000 people currently waiting for organ donations across Canada. B.C. residents can check their registration status or sign up to become a donor here.