A Castlegar man has a new lease on life thanks to a co-worker he barely knew.
Jeff Beck is recovering in hospital in Vancouver after receiving a new kidney from Andre Boruck.
Beck, 47, and Boruck underwent transplant surgery two weeks ago at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
It was the unlikely culmination of a story that both men say seems like divine intervention.
“I had chronic kidney disease, my kidneys were of no use anymore,” says Beck, who began having health problems in 2004. “I’ve had to go on dialysis for the last two years.”
Unable to find steady work because of his illness, Beck began volunteering at the Re-Store in Castlegar, stocking shelves and receiving inventory. There, he was supervised by Boruck, the manager. One day the two began talking about Beck’s illness.
“I felt bad for him. I said, ‘Don’t you know someone who can offer you a kidney?’,” recalls Boruck. “In my head I said, ‘Maybe I should give him a kidney.’
“But I didn’t say it out loud.”
Beck says he didn’t like talking about transplants with people.
“I wasn’t really looking for a kidney donor,” says Beck. “I didn’t feel comfortable asking people about donating a kidney.”
Then, as Boruck says, the universe started talking to him. He had a friend who was dying of cancer in Grand Forks, and after coming home from visiting him, he put on a movie to unwind.
“It was Seven Pounds,starring Will Smith,” recalls Boruck. “A movie about a man who donated his organs.”
Later, he was listening to a recording of a preacher telling the story of a couple that donated organs to each other.
“I said to my wife, ‘I am certainly running into a lot of stories about people giving up organs the last couple of days. I think God is telling me to give Jeff a kidney.’”
Boruck says his wife scoffed at the idea, then suggested they watch a show together on Netflix. She chose the movie.
“She picked The Best of Me, a chick-flick,” says Boruck. “Sure enough, it’s about a guy that is killed and gives his heart to his girlfriend’s son.”
Feeling the common theme was a sure sign, Boruck decided to at least start the process to see if he could be a match. First the blood test came back postive, then the tissue match, then the meeting with the surgery team. Soon enough, the two men were in hospital for the transplant.
“Through all those steps the door never closed, so I figured this was just meant to be,” says Boruck. “And for some reason God put Jeff up in my path, and I should commit to what I should do, and that’s where we are today.”
Beck says he was surprised and touched by Boruck’s gift to him. Two days after the transplant, both men were walking around a little, and Beck was looking forward to a new lease on life.
“I feel blessed, really. I think it is a big commitment and he could have backed down if he wanted to, but he went ahead with it,’ says Beck. “He gave me a new lease on life.”
While he feels like he’s been “hit by a truck,” Boruk says he’s on the road to a full recovery.
“I’ll be fine, you can live with one kidney,” he says.
And he downplays his courageous act of giving.
“I figured that if this is the path I need to be on, this is my path,” he says. “it was the right thing to do.”