Ryan Smith of Lavington, an eighth-round selection of the San Jose Sharks in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, is hoping someone will step forward and be tested as a potential kidney donor. (Photo submitted)

Ryan Smith of Lavington, an eighth-round selection of the San Jose Sharks in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, is hoping someone will step forward and be tested as a potential kidney donor. (Photo submitted)

North Okanagan ex-WHL player hopes to score new kidney

Ryan Smith, who played more than 200 games in the WHL, is currently on dialysis awaiting a potential donor

In 343 career games as a defenceman in the Western and Canada West University hockey leagues, Ryan Smith set up 165 goals.

Now, the Lavington resident is looking for the biggest assist of his life.

Smith, 46 needs a kidney transplant.

The former hockey player, pro golfer, oil patch worker, husband and father of two boys has been receiving dialysis at home for two years, five days a week currently.

The transplant waitlist is four years, and Smith has been placed on the deceased donor’s list, but he is hoping to hopefully move the process along more quickly.

“I did have a donor lined up but after about 10 months into the process she was discovered to have had some pre-existing medical issues that prevented her from being a donor,” said Smith who lives with his wife, Kerrie, and sons Sampson, 6, and four-year-old Cedric.

A native of Taber, Alta., Smith played in the WHL for the Brandon Wheat Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince George Cougars before joining the Manitoba Bisons in the Canadian university ranks.

He was selected in the eighth round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks.

Smith moved to the North Okanagan for recreational pursuits before he became sick.

“I’m an avid mountain biker and I moved here about 10 years for the access to the trails, such as SilverStar,” said Smith who started having blood pressure issues four years ago.

Months later, he began experiencing nausea and headaches, and on a routine visit to his optometrist, Smith was told he had flaring blood vessels in his eyes – a warning sign that couldn’t be ignored.

Smith was sent to emergency where his blood pressure was “out of control.” A follow-up scan was performed and Smith was diagnosed with IGA Nephropathy, a common kidney disease that leads to renal failure in nearly half the cases.

Within a year, Smith’s kidney function had fallen from 50 per cent to seven. He started dialysis in April 2019.

Dialysis does come with some pretty severe side effects which prevents the young father from enjoying activities with his sons. He is in a stage of his life where he should be a productive worker and experiencing all the joys of raising two young boys beside his wife.

Smith has been assessed for transplant at Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital. If you’re interested in being tested as a potential donor for a kidney for him, you can call 1-877-922-9822 or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca.

Either method will connect you with staff who can direct you to the steps you need to take to begin the testing process.

READ MORE: Armstrong woman seeking kidney donor

READ MORE: Spallumcheen woman thankful for new kidney



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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