Ontario Renal Network | Reseau Renal de L'Ontario

Michael M


In 1987, with no warning, Mike M.’s kidneys failed. He had a rare condition known as Focal Segmental Glomerular Sclerosis. Over the years, Mike has undergone hundreds of diagnostic tests, dozens of angioplasty procedures, eight fistula operations and two failed transplants. During those same years, he studied, established a career, travelled the world, played sports, married and became an advocate for people with chronic kidney disease.

“While the last 27 years on dialysis have not been easy, I have seen and done many things that I had dreamed of and many things that I never thought would be possible,” he says. “All along, the key has been a positive attitude and staying educated about and involved in my healthcare.”

My Kidney Life: Michael's Photo Journal

Michael M.

“When my kidneys failed, overnight I went from being a healthy, athletic 18-year-old student to a dialysis patient stuck in a hospital. The sudden transformation was a truly strange and scary experience.”

My mother Noreen, my father, Brendan, and me

My mother Noreen, my father, Brendan, and me

“My nurses and I had a good-bye party on what was to be my last day of dialysis. I was devastated when the new kidney, donated by my father, failed less than 48 hours after the transplant.”

Me with my nephrology nurses Joyce Hunter (left) and Mina Kashani (right), and Dr. Vern Campbell

“When you spend four to five hours, three to five times every week, in a dialysis clinic, the nurses become your social network. Some of my first nurses at St. Michael’s Hospital have been my friends for more than 20 years.”

Me at the curling rink

Me at the curling rink

Home dialysis was a really positive choice for me because of the flexibility it offered. Nocturnal home dialysis is even better because I am free to do what I want in the evening, like curl. I had a bit of a phobia about sleeping through the night with needles in my arm, but the training I received from the team at St. Mike’s gave me the skills and confidence I needed.”

"Gemma O'Keefe, Dr. Andrew Common and me

“Mike is exemplary in wanting to take control of his own care. With proper assessment, education and support, many of our patients discover that they do not have to become institutionalized just because they need dialysis.” — Gemma O’Keefe, a medical imaging nurse at St. Michael’s Hospital, has been part of Mike’s care team for more than 25 years.

"Dr. Vern Campbell and me

“Vascular access is a dialysis patient’s lifeline. Mike has experienced multiple access failures, but he has never let fear dictate his treatment choices. He asks me to explain my recommendations and alternatives, he examines his options carefully, and we work together to create a plan that is right for him.”
— Dr. Vern Campbell, staff surgeon with the Division of Vascular Surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital, has performed several of Mike’s vascular surgeries since 2007.

My primary nephrologist, Dr. Phil McFarlane (far left) and my home dialysis nurse, Jumi Charles (far right), with Dad, Mom, Heather and me

“I never want to just ‘get by’ on dialysis. I want to live a full and active life. The team at St. Mike’s always works hard to find solutions that help me succeed personally and medically.”

My wife, Heather, is my Number 1 supporter!

“Life on dialysis is always full of uncertainty, and I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I persevere, I continue to move forward, and I deal with each challenge as it arises.”