Calgary punk rocker taps social media to find a kidney

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Calgary punk rocker taps social media to find a kidney

Stephen Rubletz is used to lugging his own equipment. As a welder and the rhythm guitarist in the punk rock band The Foul English, he's used to heavy loads. But now, he often has to ask his friends for help.

Rubletz has an autoimmune disease that attacked his kidneys. In February, he was told that his kidneys were failing. Now, they're functioning at just seven per cent.

Exhaustion is the main symptom, said Rubletz. That, and feeling cold.

"For the first time in my adult life, I bought a pair of winter boots," he said. "If it drops down to 15 C outside, I have to wear a hoodie. And I'm tired, I'm really tired a lot."

When it became clear he would need a new kidney, Rubletz started looking within his family. While he said there were plenty of family members who were willing to donate, none had the right blood type.

So he decided to take to social media to find someone willing to donate, and with type O blood.

"After some considerable coaxing from my family, I decided to put it on Facebook," said Rubletz. "It's been pretty overwhelming actually; the response has been insane."

Rubletz said within 12 hours, he'd had more than half a dozen people message him asking for information on where to be tested to see if they could donate. His post has been shared more than 150 times so far.

"I had a really hard time asking in the first place, so to have this many people reach out and say, 'Hey, I'm interested in trying to help out,' it's a pretty overwhelming thing."

His bandmates in The Foul English accommodate Rubletz as much as possible.

'We want to help out our brother'

After performances, the band will stay behind to watch the other performers. But, being tired more often than normal, Rubletz will sometimes need to leave early.

The other members of the band will help load his share of the equipment.

"We want to help out our brother and get him the help he needs," said Nick Broadley, lead singer and guitarist in the band.

Broadley and Rubletz have been friends since they were about eight years old.

"The kidney failure part was pretty shocking, especially for somebody so young," Broadley said.

"For something like that to hit so close to home with a close friend, is difficult and kind of strikes at your own mortality a bit," said Dave Sereda, who plays bass in The Foul English.

"It's kind of a shock, and you immediately start to wonder what can I do, how can I help?"

The band members decided to use their social networks to increase the reach of Rubletz's post.

"With the four of us together, and people who listen to our music, you suddenly realize how many people you know, and how fast something like this can spread," said the group's drummer Mike Semenchuck.

"Hopefully we can do our part to help spread the word that this guy needs some help," said Broadley.

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