“I’m still vertical,” Ray Bendig says half-jokingly.
But, since 1999, this successful local businessman and master toolmaker, who was one of the founders of Cavalier Tool has had to overcome a serious threat to his health. And along the way, Dr. Al Kadri and caregivers at Hôtel Dieu Grace’s Renal Dialysis unit have been there, to help him in his recovery.
For more than a year, Ray had been feeling ill. He shivered, had no strength and trouble breathing. At times he felt less than coherent. Doctors were unable to pinpoint the source of illness, nor provide a remedy. Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital nephrologist (kidney specialist) Dr. Al Kadri was consulted and diagnosed Ray as being critically ill and suffering from rapidly progressive renal failure. Due to the acuity of the kidney failure, Dr. Kadri sent Ray by ambulance to a London hospital to undergo plasmapheresis, also known as plasma exchange.
He remained in the London Hospital’s intensive care unit for several weeks. When his condition stabilized and he could be discharged home, Ray was placed under the care of Dr. Kadri, and the Hôtel Dieu Grace Hospital Renal Clinic for kidney dialysis. For several reasons Ray’s kidney illness represented a turning point for critical care procedures in our community.
Looking back, it was shortly after Ray was transferred to London that Dr. Kadri and his colleagues began to ask why? Why do patients requiring a plasma transfer need to be transported to London? He recognized a need in our community to provide this medical program, and began the process of brining a plasmapheresis to the Renal Clinic at Hôtel Dieu Grace Hospital.
“My colleagues and I just felt that we could really use this in Windsor, and with the support of the hospital, we began to write the protocols to bring the program to Windsor and Essex County. Ray Bendig was the patient who provided the impetus to make it happen.” explained Dr. Kadri.
Ray began kidney dialysis treatments upon his return to Windsor. Kidney dialysis uses a specialized machine that acts as an artificial kidney to perform the key functions of this vital organ, which is to eliminate toxins and purify our blood system. Without renal dialysis, patients experiencing kidney failure would die. Thanks to advancements in the treatment of kidney disease physicians specializing in this field of medicine are seeing great progress in patient care and outcomes. “We have the ability to stave off death,” Dr. Kadri states proudly.
After consulting with Ray, Dr. Kadri placed him in the self-care peritoneal dialysis program. This program provides its patients with greater mobility and schedule flexibility. Ray took full advantage of the peritoneal dialysis benefits and was able to maintain his demanding work schedule, as well as his love of fishing and hunting. Ray remained under Dr. Kadri’s care for almost two years and was on dialysis until the day he got the phone call that all organ donation candidates wait and pray for- a match had been found!
Ray underwent successful kidney transplant surgery. Shortly after the surgery Ray felt the time had come to turn his work responsibilities over to his son, and enjoy life just a little bit more. Stepping back from work did not mean he was stepping back from life. “I have so many hobbies now, I need to hire help!” he jokes.
Ray lives a very full life, and monitors his health closely. As part of his ongoing post-transplant care, he sees Dr. Kadri at Hôtel Dieu Grace’s Renal Clinic once a year for his annual evaluation. “Over the year’s Dr. Kadri has become a friend,” Ray admits. “If not for his diagnosis and care I received at the Renal Clinic, I would not be alive.”
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Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital Foundation