Dominique Boucher has watched her friend's health decline in recent years, feeling helpless as she watched her suffer through several dialysis treatments each week.
But instead of letting that feeling of helplessness get her down, Boucher started researching kidney transplants and realized there was a way to give her friend a new lease on life.
"At first, my goal was to donate a kidney to my friend, but unfortunately we are not compatible," said Boucher.
Then she discovered the Kidney Paired Donation Program which has matched more than 500 Canadians with compatible donors since 2009.
The Kidney Paired Donation Program matches living donors and recipients across the country. The program is run by Canadian Blood Services in collaboration with kidney transplant centres across Canada.
"I donate a kidney to a stranger," said Boucher, who is from Quebec's Mauricie region. "I will never know to whom I donated a kidney, because it remains confidential, but the same day that I am going to be operated on, there is also a stranger who will donate a kidney to my friend."
Undeterred by risks
Boucher said her children and extended family are worried about how the decision will impact her own health and quality of life.
There are short-term and possible long-term challenges that come with donating a kidney, ranging from risk of infection to diabetes.
But Boucher is undeterred.
"The day she receives her kidney, her life will change drastically," she said.
"Considering that the only thing I'm going to have to do is avoid the salt shaker and stop taking Advil, it's well worth the risk."
Her spouse, Pierre Plourde, will be by her side every step of the way.
"I will be the driver, her nurse, her first responder," Plourde said.
"Dominique is someone who thinks a lot, and analyzes a lot before making decisions. She has strong passions and values."
Giving her kidney falls in line with those values, Plourde said, and there was never any doubt that she would do this for a friend.
Encouraging others to give
Boucher will soon be heading to Toronto to undergo the operation. She told Radio-Canada her story with hopes that others will at least become organ donors.
In Quebec, you can register as an organ and tissue donor with the Registre des consentements au don d'organes et de tissus or affix a signed sticker to the back of your health insurance card.
Quebec public health says each donation may save up to eight lives and help 20 people improve their quality of life. It is also possible to donate a kidney or a portion of the liver through Transplant Québec programs.
However, Boucher said, the more people who register as organ donors when they die, fewer living people will need to donate their kidneys to loved ones.
Now that the surgery is fast approaching, Boucher has no plans to back down.
"When you've been working on something for a year and a half, it's like the grand finale, she said. "I am more excited than I am stressed."