Inclusion BC Month: Paul Stroomer says, “Thank you for saving my life.”
October is Inclusion BC Month
Founded in 1955, Inclusion BC is a provincial non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the participation of people with developmental disabilities in all aspects of community life. It provides support, education and advocacy, where and when it’s needed, breaking down barriers and building communities that include people of all abilities.
A founding member of the provincial organization, inclusion Powell River began as a parent initiative in 1954. From that small core of volunteers, the organization has grown to a staff of 160 full- and part-time employees that provides an array of services for clients from infancy through to senior years. In total, there are 109 adults with intellectual disabilities, 363 children, youth and families, and 121 seniors who access programs.
For more information, readers can go to inclusionpowellriver.ca.
Paul Stroomer was stunned when he found out he was going to get a long-awaited kidney transplant.
The 35 year old had been living with failing kidneys for eight years and going for dialysis three days a week for four hours each time. Because he has a rare blood type, the chance of finding a suitable match for him was less likely than others. He had been moved onto the active list last October which put him in the top 100 people awaiting a kidney transplant.
“I was told because of my blood type, it was slim pickings for me, and I didn’t want to hear that,” Paul explained. “I wanted to give up so many times, but I am a stubborn person, a stubborn Dutch man.”
The call in the first week of May came to Inclusion Powell River – as Paul is a client who uses the organization’s services. Staff went on a hunt for him because he needed to be in Vancouver later that day for prepping.
”Luckily, Powell River is a small town,” he said with a chuckle.
Tarra Tipton, IPR’s Home Share manager, was one of those out looking. When he was found after 45 minutes, she drove Paul to the ferry with minutes to spare.
“Our conversation on the peninsula was emotional because he realized someone had to lose their life for him to get this gift,” said Tarra, who had worked directly with Paul for the past three years.
Paul was put on dialysis when he arrived and waited until 2 am for the operation. Tarra was with him the entire time.
“It was definitely an unbelievable experience. After so long of feeling pretty negative about the cards he was dealt, about it being unfair at such a young age, he was given this opportunity. When he woke up, he said he felt good in spite of the pain from the operation.”
Paul said he is grateful to Tarra for supporting him and for being there during the procedure and after.
It was such a rush to catch the ferry, that she ended up having to buy clothes in Vancouver because she didn’t have time to pack.
Paul had moved to Powell River from Maple Ridge when he was 13. When he was older he lived independently but when he was diagnosed and became sicker, he began using IPR’s Home Share program. Currently he shares a home with Dylan Parsons, “a really good guy with a cat named Lily who comes right to me when I call her.”
Dylan says Paul, who has been living with him since April, is “a great guy who has a heart of gold and would do anything to help someone. He loves watching classic movies and wrestling with Lily.”
He adds that Paul’s favourite food is lasagna, then with a laugh says, “He’s fussy. He doesn’t much care for fruits and veggies.”
Paul has had to cut back on the work he could do, and during his recovery he is only working part-time doing confidential paper-shredding for IPR customers, and is unable to do any lifting that would cause strain.
Although he does not know who his donor was, Paul said he will not do anything “stupid” with the gift he received.
“I would like to say to the person, thank you for saving my life. I really appreciate the small things in life now, things that people take for granted.”
By Joyce Carlson