Prince George resident Dan Eyles was days away from dialysis to treat his chronic kidney disease this summer when he received one of the greatest gifts from his daughter.
On June 4, Tracey Eyles underwent surgery to donate one of her kidneys to her father.
Tracey's donation was celebrated at the fifth annual Kidney Walk at Northern Sports Centre Sunday afternoon.
As this year's walk honouree, Tracey shared her pride in being able to help bring her father, a 66-year-old Telus contractor, back to health.
"My dad looks way different than he did last year," she said, describing Dan's pre-surgery complexion as being as gray as the tables set up in the Wolf Den. "He looked horrible."
Tracey, who lives in Burns Lake, underwent a rigorous screening process beginning back in September 2011 before finding out she was a successful kidney match for Dan in April. But that phone call only confirmed what she already knew from the start.
"She told everyone she was giving me a kidney, one way or another," Dan said.
In a few months, Dan has gone from being unable to mow his lawn without breaking into a sweat and trembling to successfully doing laps around the track for the Kidney Walk. He said he can't put into words how grateful he is for what his daughter has given him.
"I might not even be here if it wasn't for her," said Dan, who had about eight per cent of his kidney function in the days before the transplant. "It's out of the goodness of her heart that I'm here."
Nearly the entire Eyles clan was out in force for Sunday's walk. Tracey, the second of three children, was also accompanied by her husband and two daughters.
The impact kidney disease has on an entire family is part of the reason why the event continues to be a growing success, said Kidney Walk co-ordinator Lori Cruddas.
"Kidney disease is very likely to touch somebody's family locally just because of the statistics. So many people are living with diabetes now - so many people are living lives with diabetes and going on to have kidney disease. It's just a factor of the aging population, too."
The two-and-a-half kilometre walk or five kilometre run to support the work of the Kidney Foundation raised more than $9,000 locally.
According to the foundation, an estimated 2.6 million Canadians have or are at risk of kidney disease and that the number of Canadians being treated for kidney failure has tripled over the past 20 years.
By showcasing a living donor, it really opens people's eyes to the practice of organ donation, Cruddas said.
"I've seen some t-shirts around and it says 'Recycle Yourself.' It can be done," Tracey said, encouraging living donation. "You can do it now and it's as easy as filling out a form, contacting the Kidney Foundation or St. Paul's Hospital and doing it."