Kidney disease an eye opener for Alberni man

Alberni resident Dave Laughlin was active and worked hard all of his life, so it was an adjustment when he was told he had to undergo kidney dialysis.

Dave Laughlin awaits a home peritoneal dialysis machine as he struggles with kidney disease. A member of the Coulson Aircrane helicopter ground crew

Dave Laughlin is not prone to idleness.

So having to leave work because his kidneys are no longer functioning properly has been a difficult transition for Laughlin, a member of the Coulson Aircrane ground crew in Port Alberni.

Laughlin first visited a kidney specialist several years ago on the advice of a doctor. “I was really busy at the time and I just had no idea what he was talking about,” says Laughlin.

“I didn’t know what kidneys did. He said mine weren’t working as they should and down the road we were going to have to do something about it.”

That time has come.

Laughlin couldn’t figure out why he was so tired after a day’s work. His doctor told him his kidneys have only been working at 24 per cent of their capacity “for quite some time now.” He has been off work for more than a year, also for heart valve replacement surgery, and he will soon begin home dialysis.

Kidneys are bean-shaped organs about the size of a fist and are located mid-back, just below the ribcage and on either side of the spine. The kidneys keep a person’s blood clean and chemically balanced. Two healthy kidneys can process about 200 quarts of blood per day.

When kidneys fail, they no longer clean the blood and waste products and fluid can collect in the body. A process called dialysis can clean the blood artificially for a person.

Laughlin will take peritoneal dialysis (not hemodialysis); he will have a catheter surgically implanted into his abdomen which will then hook up to a bag much like an intravenous drip bag.

He will have to go through this process four times a day, meaning his days of travelling with the Martin Mars waterbomber crews are likely over.

However, he is hoping to regain some of his active lifestyle: he gardens, and he and his wife, Nancy Quist, love riding their Yamaha Viragos on motorcycle trips.

“They told me this is going to make me feel a lot better. It’s a small price to pay. It’s pretty miraculous, if you think about it.”

The dialysis machine is quite portable, he said. “I’ve seen pictures of somebody at the top of Ayers Rock (in Australia)…so it didn’t slow him down.”

Laughlin said talking about what is happening to him has been cathartic; he has a supportive community of friends who are getting him through his disease.

“I don’t know what people who don’t have that would do,” he said. “I can imagine it would be frustrating and lonely for them.”

Just Posted

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Person extracted from vehicle accident in Cameron Lake

A person has been extracted today from a reported vehicle accident in… Continue reading

Learn about Port Alberni’s mayoral candidates with new film series

Alberni Valley filmmaker Dallas Dalziel discusses key issues with candidates

City of Port Alberni issues water quality alert for Kitsuksis Creek area

Kitsuksis Creek residents urged to use alternate drinking water source

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Breast density to be included in mammogram results across B.C.

The information is crucial in proactively reducing the risk of breast cancer, doctors say

Most Read