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Organ donation could be godsend for Sheshatshiu man

Philip Nuna, 21, and his mother Roxanne Rich.
Philip Nuna, 21, and his mother Roxanne Rich.

Philip Nuna has already overcame numerous obstacles

Like most mothers, Roxanne Rich of Sheshatshiu has many hopes and dreams for her son, Philip. She’d like to see him pursue his own dream of one day becoming a psychologist. She hopes that one day her home will be wheelchair accessible for Philip. 

But, above all, she longs for her son to get a kidney transplant.

Twenty-one-year old Philip Nuna was born with spina bifida. He uses a wheelchair for mobility. While things haven’t been easy for Nuna through the years, he stuck with school and earned his high school diploma.

“I had to do a couple of courses extra but I did them,” he said during a recent phone interview.

Nuna said his mother has been his greatest support for as long as he can remember.

“When I was a kid, my mom told me to go outside and make friends. And I did. And that’s how I became me, actually... My mom is very inspiring. She helps me get through a lot.”

Nuna said he has faced and conquered additions over the years. He no longer drinks or smokes, he said.

Nuna has been battling kidney failure for several years and has to travel to Happy Valley-Goose Bay three times a week for dialysis.

He manages to get into the van that picks him up for his dialysis without much effort, he said, as his uses his upper body strength to his advantage. Nuna lives – in a two-storey home - with his mother, siblings and other relatives. He finds it difficult to do some things most people take for granted.

“The laundry is in the basement... I can’t even go downstairs without crawling,” he said. “And the kitchen cabinets are too high for me.”

While he lives life with many challenges, Nuna sees his glass as half full rather than half empty.

He said he’s thankful for the support he has and he likes to stay active in his community by socializing with friends.

When it comes to his health, like his mother, Nuna also hopes that a suitable kidney donor will be found sooner rather than later.

According to Eastern Health’s Organ Donation Program, 95 per cent of Canadians support the idea of organ and tissue donation. However, less than half are registered donors. 

Nuna’s mother is also diabetic. Some of his relatives have been tested as possible donors but were not suitable.

Nuna knows what it’s like to live with an addiction. His goal is to become a psychologist and help others battling similar demons. 

“I have been through a lot and I hear there are a lot of people trying to commit suicide and some already have. I said to all my family I would just like to help out and talk to them before they do something bad to themselves.”

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