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How local care kept Barb alive

This holiday season, local photographer Meaghan Kent is sharing how her family has received outstanding care over the years at Sault Area Hospital.

Meaghan poses with her camera in hand. she has long blonde hair and wears a blue shirt.
Meaghan Kent shares how her family has received outstanding care.

Not many people can say that Sault Area Hospital feels like a second home, but for Meaghan Kent (nee Smith), it's true. Growing up, she spent a lot of time at the hospital with her mom, Barb Smith. Barb was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993 when Meaghan was just 4 years old. While Barb was lucky and beat her cancer, in 1997 she was diagnosed with kidney failure.

When left untreated, kidney failure is deadly. Healthy kidneys clean and filter the blood, and when they fail they can no longer do this. Renal dialysis is a common treatment for kidney failure – and requires a patient to be connected to a machine that helps clean and filter their blood for them. Each treatment often takes 4+ hours, and typically needs to be repeated 2-3 times per week.

For the first few years, Barb was able to have kidney dialysis at home, but eventually she needed more care and had to visit Sault Area Hospital for her treatments. For Meaghan, that meant she spent a lot of time at the hospital with mom. "It seemed like we were at the hospital every week... When you go anywhere that often, you get to know the people and they get to know you. You build close ties."

"My mom is alive today thanks to the outstanding care at Sault Area Hospital."

In 2001, doctors recommended Barb should consider a kidney transplant. Meaghan’s dad, Dan, offered to be his wife's donor – and he was a match!

Though the transplant operation took place in another hospital in London, Ontario, Meaghan remembers the team at Sault Area Hospital going above and beyond for her family.

"They did workups and tests, follow up care – they did as much as they could here in Sault Ste. Marie, so that my parents wouldn’t have go away for more care," Meaghan shared. "The social worker who had been supporting us, Shirley Pulkkinen, even came to our house the day that my parents had their operation!"

It has now been 20 years since the transplant, and both of Meaghan’s parents are still doing well.

While Barb no longer needs dialysis treatment since her successful transplant, many patients at Sault Area Hospital do. Meaghan and her family continue to support Sault Area Hospital to ensure future patients receive the same outstanding care Barb did.

Our Renal team needs hospital beds today.

Today, patients from all over Algoma are dependent on the renal dialysis program at Sault Area Hospital – just as Barb was 20 years ago. Dialysis treatments are long, and a comfortable hospital bed makes a huge difference for patients sitting for 4+ hours, multiple times each week. You can help ensure these beds, and so many other pieces of important medical equipment, are there for the people in our community.

Make a difference this holiday season, and give to Sault Area Hospital Foundation. Your gift helps the people of Algoma receive outstanding care. Give today.




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