The picture of inspiration, Jade Ariana Fair is adamant people don’t forget the toll chronic illness takes on a person.
The artist and holistic health student started her journey with chronic illness at 12.
That Christmas holiday, Fair was so sick her mom took the California youngster to urgent care where a nurse with “really good clinical intuition” discovered she was in renal failure.
Fair, who now lives in Victoria, still thinks about the emotion her mom must have felt, driving her very sick child to Cedars-Sinai in L.A. to start dialysis.
“Life turned all of a sudden,” Fair said in a phone interview with Victoria News.
It was the start of her life with chronic kidney disease.
By her mid-teens, she’d recovered enough to come off dialysis. So a recurrence 20 years later came as a slight surprise.
Fair studied herbal medicine informally in California starting in her early 20s. It was a passion, so when she heard of the Pacific Rim College – specializing in holistic medicine and sustainable living – enrolling in the Victoria school became her next task.
“I applied in the middle of the pandemic and got my study permit,” Fair said.
With her mom, diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2020, stable enough for her daughter to leave, Fair packed up her little dog and what could fit in her Honda CR-V and drove to B.C.
In January 2021, after three and a half days of travel and two weeks quarantine, she started taking biochemistry by Zoom on a mattress on the floor of her new apartment.
When her student medical plan kicked in three months later, it was time to get her routine health care in order. For someone with kidney disease, that means labs and a nephrologist.
Fair expected she was a bit rundown, caring for her mom, packing up her whole life and starting a new program all during a pandemic was taking its toll on people around the world.
She didn’t expect the lab work to show three per cent kidney function.
“It was a mirror of what happened when I was a kid, except I was an adult and I was by myself,” said Fair, who turned 32 in December.
Now, she undergoes daily peritoneal dialysis. Every night for nine hours she connects to a machine that filters out the waste her kidney can’t.
She spent the summer rebuilding. She started a job in August, returned to school in September and started fundraising for a kidney transplant.
The campaign, dubbed #kidney22, by friends in Oakland, Calif. – where she once lived and close friends still reside – aims to raise funds and get her a kidney. An online fundraiser includes how to donate, and how to become a living donor. Friends are already applying online through the University of California San Francisco Health Transplant Service at ucdonor.org. A couple are through the first round of screening, leaving her hopeful. They plan to come to B.C. and go through the next level of the process in Vancouver. If it seems like a match, that’s when conversations really start, Fair said.
As of Friday, the campaign at gofundme.com/f/jades-kidney-transplant-fund hit $20,000 of its $100,000 goal. It also lists alternative U.S. options for donating.
Funds raised are for the anticipated living expenses, care expenses and medical expenses for Fair and a potential donor. What some may find less expected, Fair said, is the therapy she’ll seek. While appearing a picture of inspiration, it’s easy to forget the trauma someone endures dealing with lifelong illness.
“For those of us with disabilities, you don’t have to be strong and inspirational and make able-bodied people feel good about how strong you are. It’s OK. You’re not a burden,” Fair said.
Learn more about the B.C. living donor program at transplant.bc.ca.
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