Det. Roy McBeth of the Abbotsford Police Department is gearing up for transplant surgery on Wednesday alongside his coworker and organ donor Insp. Kevin Wright.
"It's given me a new lease on life," said McBeth about the upcoming procedure. "It's like winning the lottery."
Wright, 51, was one of a half-dozen workers at the Fraser Valley police department who put their names forward as possible organ donors after learning their ailing colleague was searching for a transplant.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," said Wright about his decision to help out his workmate.
"You don't need to be dead to donate a kidney."
McBeth, 44, was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease as a child — a genetic ailment he shares with a number of his family members.
The degenerative disorder causes multiple, fluid-filled cysts to grow in the kidneys, which ultimately impair their ability to clean blood and eventually leads to the need for either an organ transplant or regular dialysis.
A little more than a year ago, McBeth put out a submission through the Abbotsford police force and several other municipal agencies, looking for a living kidney donor.
In November, Wright was selected as the successful match.
"It's a remarkable gift. There are no words to really express it," said McBeth as he recalled hearing the news about Wright's decision.
"He's extending my life possibly for another twenty years."
The two men have known each other since McBeth joined the Fraser Valley police force in 2004. He now works in the department's domestic violence unit.
As a competitive cyclist, McBeth said he looks forward to maintaining his active lifestyle thanks to Wright.
"It was an incredible weight lifted off me, that's for sure," he said.
With the surgery scheduled for the middle of the week, McBeth said he anticipates spending about seven days in St. Paul's Hospital, followed by a six-to-eight-week recovery period.
Wright's recovery is also expected to take about six weeks.
Afterwards, depending on his recovery, McBeth said his goal is to return to Hawaii with his wife in October to compete again in the off-road world championships for triathlon.
Beyond the positive impact this procedure stands to have on his own life, he and Wright also see the experience as an opportunity to raise awareness about the need for live organ donors.
"Right now there are approximately 400 people in B.C. alone who are waiting for kidney transplants," McBeth said.
"I just don't think the general public is aware that really anyone can be tested and help if you're a match."
After their recovery, the two men plan on taking part in a half-Iron Man relay together in Penticton, B.C., in August, to promote the Living Organ Program.
As for how McBeth feels right now: "Every day is a celebration," he said, laughing.
-- By Geordon Omand in Vancouver.
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