Jacqui gave a kidney to her big sister Laureen in 1985

“I was four years old when an ambulance took me to the hospital from my appointment with my pediatrician. I was in the final phase of kidney failure,” said Laureen Bureau. What followed was a long relationship with hospitals. That was in 1960, when she was living in Saint John, New Brunswick, with her parents and four sisters.

Throughout her childhood, she had to travel repeatedly from Saint John to Montreal for treatment at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t responding to any treatments due to severe homesickness, so they had to send me home,” explained Laureen (left).

During her adolescence, Laureen’s health stabilized, sparing her the inconvenient hospital stays. “At that point in my life, I graduated from high school, then CEGEP, and then I worked a little. I also returned to the Montreal Children’s Hospital to volunteer,” she said.

The day after her 26th birthday, the condition of Laureen’s kidneys suddenly deteriorated, which made it increasingly hard for her to study; she felt very weak and lost interest in eating. “Just when I was about to move to Montreal, my nephrologist started talking about dialysis and even transplantation,” she recalled.

In early 1984, her sisters got tested to find out if one of them could be a compatible donor. It turned out that her youngest sister, Jacqui, was a perfect match. Laureen received her sister’s kidney on August 8, 1985, at age 29. “My sister’s gift changed my life forever, and it helped us forge an unbreakable bond. I will be forever grateful to her,” said Laureen.