Vancouver Island leaders forge friendship over kidney donation

British Columbia

A newfound friendship has been forged after a Qualicum Beach town councillor donated a kidney to the Chief of the Qualicum First Nation.

Qualicum Beach First Nation Chief Michael Recalma, left, and Qualicum Beach town councillor Scott Harrison sit together after their surgeries.(Submitted by Sharon Recalma)

Four years ago, Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma was diagnosed with kidney failure.

After several attempts to find a donor, he's finally recovering this week after receiving a kidney from another local leader.

Qualicum Beach town councillor Scott Harrison read about Recalma's need in the local newspaper. A regular blood donor, he was able to check his blood type and found he was a match.

"Seemed like the right thing to do," he said.

Community members wish Qualicum Beach First Nation Chief Michael Recalma and Qualicum Beach town councillor Scott Harrison well as they leave for Vancouver, where their surgeries took place, in February.(Submitted by Sharon Recalma)

He, along with several others in the area, reached out to Recalma right away to offer his kidney and bring hope to a difficult situation. As he suspected, Harrison was a match.

The pair had met before at various functions, but hadn't spent time together outside politics.

Now, they're planning a family gathering in the summer to celebrate Recalma's healing, and their newfound friendship.

Recalma described Harrison as a "forever friend."

"He's one of the best people in the community," Harrison said. "He's just someone I really respect and admire."

Chief, councillor recovering

Recalma said his body and Harrison's kidney are still in the "dating stage."

"We haven't quite gotten used to each other yet," he said. "We will."

He said it's "surreal" to have his life back on track after four long years of waiting for a transplant.

Chief Michael Recalma says he's healing, slowly but surely.(Submitted by Sharon Recalma)

Harrison said he's recovering well, and quickly, from his surgery to remove the kidney.

He hopes his act of selflessness will inspire others to look at ways they can have a meaningful impact on their community.

"It's a pleasure to be able to actually do something impactful."

With files from Sonya Hartwig and All Points West

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