A friend in need

Danette Dooley
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When he realized Lana Curran was in need of a kidney, JR Smith decided to offer more than just moral support

Lana Curran is shown with her six-month-old nephew, Jackson Price.

What started out as a light-hearted comment has turned into a medical journey that will soon see one friend donate a kidney to another.

JR Smith and Lana Curran are from Mount Pearl. Curran still lives there, while Smith lives on the outskirts of Barrie, Ont.

The two, both 31, have been friends since they were teenagers.

When Curran saw Smith’s army identification card during his visit to Newfoundland in 2009, she noticed they both had the same blood type: O positive.

“That’s when I joked with him, saying, ‘I could be coming after you one day for a kidney,’” Curran recalled during a recent interview.

She has been waiting for a kidney transplant for more than two years.

Curran told Smith that her mother (Rosemary Curran) was being tested, that they shared the same blood type and that a match appeared certain.

Smith told Curran that, if things didn’t work out with her mom, he’d give her one of his.

• • •

Curran was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12.

‘Can’t wait to live like a normal person’

Her condition worsened through the years. She underwent a pancreas transplant at age 26.

A few years after the transplant, she was told her kidneys were failing.

She has been undergoing dialysis three days a week for more than two years.

When she’s not hooked up to a dialysis machine at the Waterford hospital, she’s home recovering from the fatigue that plagues here following the treatments.

By the time she gets her strength back, it’s time to head back to the hospital to cleanse her blood again or to see her team of doctors.

Curran wishes she had more energy to do more things with her six-month-old nephew, Jackson Price.

“I’ll always manage to play with him, but right now, Lori (Curran’s sister) wouldn’t feel safe letting me babysit Jackson. And I don’t blame her. But all that is going to change soon.”

Her smile broadens as she talks about how different her life would be if she could leave dialysis behind.

“At 31 years old, it’s hard not to have a social life. I just can’t wait to live like a normal person,” she says.

• • •

Until 10 months ago, Rosemary Curran was “almost positive” she’d be the one giving her daughter a kidney.

However, after more than a year of testing, the family was told in May that, because of the way Rosemary’s kidneys were attached, one could not be removed safely.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was devastating news,” the mother recalls.

Curran wrote about the news in a Facebook status update.

Smith saw the post.

He called Curran and asked where he could go to be tested as a donor.

He’s been driving to Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital for about six months undergoing various tests, including renal scans, MRIs, CT scans – every positive result inching him nearer to a match.

Curran and Smith will travel to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal on March 16 for a pre-operative consultation. That’s where the transplant will take place, Smith said in a telephone interview.

“They’ve already told me that I’m a match and that everything is good. So, the actual transplant will be done shortly after that,” he said.

Smith has been working out for hours every day to make sure he’s in great shape for the transplant.

He feels like he’s training for a prize fight, he laughs.

But Smith’s fighting days are behind him.

When asked why he’d give a piece of himself to a friend, he turns to his military career.

Smith has served more than 10 years with the First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment.

He fought in Afghanistan in 2006-07.

“I’ve seen enough evil in this world. More than most people should. So, I want to try to help someone in my own country. And I’m sure Lana will be on her feet soon and living a normal life for the first time in a long time.”

Rosemary Curran’s eyes moisten as she expresses how the family feels about Smith.

“Lana has been so sick and so tired all the time, but soon we are going to get our Lana back. And it’s all because of JR,” she says.

telegram@thetelegram.com

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Waterford hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital, First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Barrie, Newfoundland Toronto Michael Montreal Afghanistan

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Recent comments

  • Val Westenbroek
    March 09, 2011 - 21:43

    All the best to you Lana!! Enjoy your new chance with Life. JR is obviously a great friend and one who cares. All I can say is AWESOME and God Bless!!

  • carolann morgan
    March 08, 2011 - 07:24

    I went to school with both Lana and J.R they are both wonderful people ...I wish you guys all the best and a very speedy recovery .:)

  • Judi B
    March 07, 2011 - 23:00

    This guys is a hero,and I believe there is lots of work for military to do at home,this guy proves it!!!

  • Linda Joy
    March 07, 2011 - 21:49

    Lana I want to wish you the very best and many prayers I will say for you .I do not know you however I feel like I do after reading your story . Your friend JR is remarkable and because of him you are going to have your life back .I can honestly understand as I too have medical issues .God Bless you and your recovery , please God will be speedy .Finally you'll be able to babysit your nephew and take him places yourself .All the luck in the world .

  • Sue Brushett
    March 07, 2011 - 20:04

    Lana, this is a real life story and it's your story...that is what's so touching about this! What a blessing you have found in your friend JR. and what a blessing he has found in you. Life is so precious...I pray that God will perform a miracle in both of your lives and that you will have long life, health and happiness. Best of Luck!

    • Denise Litlejohn
      March 09, 2011 - 16:12

      Good luck to you both . Thanks to you JR you have not only given a normal life back to Lana , but you have also gave hope to so many other people out there waiting for a hero like you.

  • SHIRLEY
    March 07, 2011 - 13:27

    LANA WHAT A BEAUTIFUL STORY, YOU HAVE SUCH A VERY SPECIAL FRIEND IN JR, MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO BOTH OF YOU AS YOU TAKE ON THIS SPECIA L JOURNEY, MAY GOD BE WITH YOU BOTH.

  • Justina Summers
    March 07, 2011 - 12:14

    So happy for Lana,Rosemary----I'll say a prayer all goes well----what a great friend she's got---God love him!!!!!!

  • Karen Hawco
    March 07, 2011 - 12:05

    Good luck Lana I hope everything works out for you and JR you two deserve the best this guy will always be a hero he is a saint from heaven.

  • Delores Mary Smith
    March 07, 2011 - 11:47

    What a beautiful story,what a great friend you have there in JR,Wishing you both all the best,have a speedy recovery.

  • Anne Windsor
    March 07, 2011 - 11:44

    Such a touching story ,thank God for JR .Please God after this Lana will be able to live her life ,and babysit her darling nephew Jackson whenever she wants.Keeping you both in my prayers,God bless.

  • Love
    March 07, 2011 - 10:24

    I wonder if a ring will be attached to the kidney.

  • Patricia
    March 07, 2011 - 10:14

    An uplifting story.Best of luck to both of them.My 30 year old daughter will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her kidney transplant on April 15.She got the gift of LIFE from an unknown donor who literally saved her life.We can never say THANK YOU enough

  • Karen Clarke
    March 07, 2011 - 09:27

    Lana, We wish you all the best. You, JR, and your family are all in our prayers. We wish you luck and Gods Speed. Love from your neighbour at Diaylsis, Waterford Hosp.

  • Elaine
    March 07, 2011 - 08:52

    Best of luck, Lana!! You are blessed with a great family and an all round hero in JR! Your life has taken a turn for the best!!

  • Carter Laing
    March 07, 2011 - 08:39

    Great story out of Newfoundland, I wish all the best to both of them, and for this girl to get on with her life. To this soilder, you are doing a great thing for your long time friend.

  • Mary
    March 07, 2011 - 08:29

    What a beautiful story, one which makes me want to read it over and over. God Bless JR for the greatest gift to his friend. What a wonderful friend!!! My admiration is greater because of his service to mankind as my nephew will soon be back from his 3rd stint in Afganistan. Lana, my family wishes you well, our prayers will be with you all as you journey through your tests and hopefully surgery so you can enjoy your life, especially your darling little nephew Jackson. Best wishes Lana and JR thank you for your gift to your beautiful friend. " True friends are like anchors to which we must hold, much more to be treasured than silver or gold." How true!!! God Bless!

  • flexxa
    March 07, 2011 - 08:03

    ...wow! We don't get enough of this in the media these days. :)

  • Sheri
    March 07, 2011 - 07:32

    What a great friend! I hope everyone has at least one friend like this one! Here's wishing you both a speedy recovery!

    • Marie
      March 07, 2011 - 09:27

      What a friend!! And what great Karma for JR........What a good man!! Good luck to you both!