The long-standing president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs is looking for help, in the form of a donated kidney.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who's served as the president of the UBCIC for eight consecutive three-year terms, the chair of the Okanagan Nation Alliance for 15 years, and is the former Penticton Indian Band Chief, is reaching out to the public for help.
Phillip has chronic kidney disease that has progressively gotten worse.
“My kidneys no longer work well enough to keep me alive and continue my lifelong work and passion to advocate for Indigenous Title and Rights and the environment, and to do the things I enjoy most, like spending time with my wonderful wife Joan, our five children and 15 grandchildren, and being out on our territory," Phillip said in a statement.
As such, Phillip is seeking a kidney donor to help him live without the need for regular dialysis treatments. He says a transplant would provide him more freedom, and the capability to “live a longer, healthier and more normal life.”
Phillip is on the waiting list for a deceased donor, but he says time is not on his side, and many people die while waiting.
“Asking my family, friends and supporters to consider donating a kidney to me is difficult, but it greatly improves my chances of getting a transplant,” he said, “A living kidney donation typically lasts longer and has better function.”
Humans have two kidneys, and most people can get by just fine with one. Phillip adds that the cost of the surgery would be covered by his insurance provider, and the recovery time usually takes about two weeks.
Phillip has long been an advocate for Indigenous rights and in 2019, he was given an honorary doctorate of law from UBC for his advocacy,
"My traditional name is A?sir?t, which loosely translates into 'loon' and which my elders bestowed on me because they say my voice can be heard rising clearly across and through Turtle Island," Phillip said.
“At the very least I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. I am hopeful my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list.”
Anyone interested in helping can reach out by email.