Vickie Murdock was given the nickname Angel by her father, Allen Bushie, when she was a child. But neither father nor daughter ever imagined how much she would live up to that name until Murdock donated her kidney to her father in June 2022.
Until 2018, test results showed that Bushie’s kidneys were operating consistently at 17 percent functionality, only slightly above 15 percent which is considered kidney failure. Bushie was hesitant to undergo dialysis, but when his kidney function dropped to only 11 percent, Murdock and her siblings knew that they needed to act immediately.
Bushie had two options for a kidney donation. The first was to go on a waiting list, for an unknown amount of time, and hope a donor match would be made. The second was to find a living donor.
Immediately, Murdock threw her hand up in the air.
“I’ll do it; I am all in.”
Murdock knew her older sister, who acted as their father’s unofficial nurse, had health problems of her own, and as the next oldest child, Murdock knew the responsibility was hers and hers alone. When the test results showed Murdock was a match, she was ready.
Then COVID-19 hit, and the transplant was postponed.
Finally, in April 2022, Murdock and Bushie were told their surgery was at the top of the list. By mid-May, Murdock, her husband, her mother, and her father, were all isolating together in Hollow Water First Nation where Murdock had grown up.
“Some people couldn’t do two weeks isolated with their parents, but we are all best friends, and we enjoyed and loved the time together and took this time as reflection,” says Murdock.
The kidney transplant took place on June 2, 2022. The original plan was for Murdock to receive three small incisions. Because of the size of her kidney, Murdock ended up needing five.
The transplant was a success, but what was supposed to be a two-week recovery for Murdock turned into three because of the added incisions. As a result, the recovery turned out to be more challenging than she expected. Murdock lost her paternal grandmother in January 2022. Murdock’s grandmother came to her in a dream the day before the surgery and told Murdock to rest when her surgery was done; she said: “I know you’re always on the go, but you need the time to rest for you, my girl.”
“It was hard being next to my dad every day thinking I was starting my own journey into the Spirit World. I didn’t want him to know I was hurting because I didn’t want him to think it was his fault,” says Murdock.
Even during the worst of Murdock’s recovery, she hid her pain from her father.
“It was a big sacrifice for her,” says Bushie. “I accepted it, and I recovered. My body got stronger, but she had to battle through it. She gave me a gift, a gift to live a longer life, and I give her a lot of credit. I thank her for that.”
Murdock doesn’t know if this experience has changed who she is as a person as her only intent was to extend her father’s life so he can be a part of his future great grandbabies’ lives, but Bushie knows it has changed him. Before the transplant, Bushie was never one to say “I love you” to his kids often. Now, he says it every time he sees them. He feels a deeper connection to his children now, especially his Angel.
Murdock and Bushie would like to thank all HSC staff who were involved with their compassionate care, and HSC Foundation donors for their support of the HSC Transplant Wellness Centre.
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