Raising funds for organ awareness

By Geoff Lee

June 9, 2016 12:00 AM

Kidney organ donor, Eileen Zheng from Vancouver, is riding across Canada on her Gift From Within tour to save lives. She stopped in Lloydminster Monday to meet with local Canadian Transplant Association rep Donna Krilow-Lorenz at the Hampton Inn that gave her a free night's stay.

Donna Krilow-Lorenz, regional coordinator of the Canadian Transplant Association (CTA), thought it would be cool to present Vancouver cyclist Eileen Zheng with a red scarf.
Zheng is embarking on a cross country ride to raise funds and prove that live organ donors like herself can fully recover their health while saving lives.
The scarf, left over from the Lloydminster Transplant Trot in January, is worn at CTA events by living organ donors like Zheng, who was greeted by Krilow-Lorenz at the Hampton Inn on Monday afternoon.
“It’s very exciting to have somebody biking Canada-wide, a young girl who is a living donor showing that there is good health after doing something like that,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
Zheng’s three month Gift From Within tour from Victoria B.C. to St. John’s N.L. brought her to Lloydminster when Krilow-Lorenz contacted her after reading about her mission in a CTA magazine.
“It just brings awareness across the country that there is definitely a need for people to sign their organ donor cards and consider being donors at the end of life, but also to consider living donations,” said Krilow-Lorenz.
Zheng was also pleased to meet Lloydminster councillor Larry Sauer and his wife, Leanne, and local media for the opportunity to explain her goal to raise organ donor awareness, increase donor registrations and raise funds for the CTA.
“I am hoping to raise at least $75,000,” said Zheng.
“They (CTA) do really amazing work and all the money will go to the literal life saving work that they do.”
In the CTA magazine The Living Proof, Zheng wrote: “Being a living organ donor does not necessarily mean that your life stops and you have to change your lifestyle; it’s about saving or improving someone else’s life while you continue yours.”
The person’s life she saved was her mom, Wei, who initially declined Zheng’s offer for a kidney seven years ago, uncertain of the health risks to her daughter.
That decision changed after she became very weak, tired and ill and no longer able to handle dialysis.
Twenty-eight-year-old Zheng says both she and her mother are living healthy lives after the transplant operation last year.
“She’s fantastic right now; she’s got more energy than me, it’s amazing.”
Zheng said she’s never been healthier even with just one kidney.
“The doctors told me that I didn’t have to change anything in my lifestyle,” she said.
She said she can eat anything she wants and do anything she wants.
“I am biking across Canada to show people you can still do the things you do and even go beyond that,” she said.
Zheng is riding about 100 kilometres a day with the slogan, One Decision to Save Many Lives posted on the front of her bike along with her giftfromwithin.ca website.
The site provides a fundraising link to gofundme to donate and a link to the CTA on how to quickly sign up to be a donor.
Her motivation to ride east against frequent headwinds and hills comes from knowing that nothing is harder than those who are sick and needing an organ.
“I feel I am lucky to be completely healthy and I want to fight for people that are ill and get them to be better,” said Zheng.
Zheng’s is riding a steel frame Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike that is kept in running order by her wingman, Robert Sam,  who is also helping to raise funds.
The pair was treated to a meal at the Rock Creek Tap & Grill in Lloydminster and offered some free accommodation by the Hampton Inn.
“I think that’s amazing,” said Zheng, who’s equipped for overnight camping as well.
Her next stop was North Battleford.

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