Dylan D'Hulster aspires to be a pediatric nurse someday. Or possibly be part of an organ transplant team.
His future goals are not surprising.
Four years ago, the now 18-year-old Tillsonburg native received his second kidney transplant. About a decade earlier, D'Hulster had received a kidney donated by his father, Greg.
"I spent a lot of time in hospital and like the health field," he said Sunday. He is now enrolled in the nursing program at Fanshawe College in London.
The transplant has gone well, for the most part. D'Hulster suffered a minor rejection this past June but everything is OK now, he said.
In addition to his studies, D'Hulster works part-time at a cemetery in London. In January he plans to play hockey at Fanshawe.
What message would he give to other young people facing similar health issues? "Don't give up," he said. "Just keep your head up and keep strong."
D'Hulster's second transplant occurred in 2011, one day before the Kidney Foundation's Give the Gift of Life Walk in Tillsonburg.
On Sunday, he was one of about two dozen people taking part in Kidney Walk 2014.
Darrell Eddington, an Ingersoll resident who is treasurer for the Town of Tillsonburg, and his sister Lorraine Gheorghiu of London were among the walkers who know first hand the difference an organ donation can make.
Gheorghiu, 51, was diagnosed with kidney disease when she was three years of age. She had reached a point over the years where dialysis was inevitable. Then Eddington, 58, stepped forward to donate a kidney to his younger sister. "Because of Darrell I didn't have to go on dialysis, so that was remarkable in itself," she said.
Gheorghiu has had some "hiccups" since the transplant last year, particularly with a few bouts of shingles, due to immunosuppressive drugs, and blood issues. "The hospital treats it, gets rid of it and I get out of there and am swinging again," she said.
Greg D'Hulster, one of the organizers of the Tillsonburg walk, said the event would raise more than $3,000.
Funds raised are used for kidney research and patient services such as short-term financial assistance. One in 10 people in Canada suffer from kidney disease and more than 1,000 people in Ontario are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.