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Daughter’s gift of life for beloved father

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Randy Edwards has been there for his daughter, Gayneté Edwards, through thick and thin.

He helped her through surgery at 13. And he found her sponsorship for the Miss Teen Bermuda Pageant — and cheered when she won the crown.

“Since the day she was born we've been like white on rice,” Mr Edwards, 58, said.

Now his 29-year-old daughter wants to be there for him, in a way neither of them ever expected.

She wants to give him a kidney. But first, she has to raise $400,000 for the transplant.

“So often our parents do for us, very rarely are we able to pay them back,” Ms Edwards said. “My reasons for sharing an organ stretch beyond saving a loved one's life. I cannot wait to give my dad the gift of not only an extended life, but one full of things that bring him joy.”

Mr Edwards went into hospital three years ago expecting to be treated for dehydration.

He was shocked when doctors told him he had a tumour on his left kidney and the entire organ had to be removed.

“The tumour was twice the size of my kidney and it was cancerous,” he said. “When I saw the X-ray it was unbelievable. I had never been sick before that and didn't have any pain. If you didn't tell me I had this I would have never known.”

He considered himself “blessed” that no chemotherapy or radiation treatment was required, and then doctors discovered he had chronic kidney disease.

Since then, he's been on dialysis three days a week for 3.5 hours at a time.

“When kidneys fail, the body begins to shut down and dialysis is only a short-term solution to support the kidney functions as it eventually stops working,” Ms Edwards said. “A kidney transplant is the long-term solution for individuals with renal disease, and his is chronic. With a transplanted kidney your life expectancy is 18 to 20 years, but some people live longer lives and some shorter. A healthy person can function just fine on one kidney. I just have to avoid extreme sports that could involve me being knocked in my remaining kidney.”

And then came a stumbling block. Ms Edwards' health insurance would pay for her side of the transplant but not her father's. Mr Edwards, who works part-time at Victoria Street shoe store Island Sole, is insured through HIP. The coverage wasn't enough. Ms Edwards didn't blink when Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital told her to expect a $400,000 bill.

“I am quite the optimist,” the author of The Lucky Code said. “Everyone is gasping at $400,000 but I'm like, ‘We'll be fine. He will get it in no time'.”

Her book shares ways to lead a successful, lucky life, and partly speaks to optimism.

“She's certainly putting that mindset to the test,” her father said. “And it's working. The money is coming in. So many people have reached out to me.”

The Edwards were recently granted a temporary fundraising licence from government to help their cause.

Rosa's Cantina and its sister restaurant Chopsticks Fusion are selling a specially made cocktail this month called Daddy's Girl. Gosling's donated the liquor and all of the proceeds go towards Mr Edwards' procedure.

“They invited us there last Friday night,” he said. “We saw all the drinks coming off the bar and we were like, yes, yes.”

Mr Edwards said one man recognised his face from a flyer the restaurants produced. “He tasted his drink and then he said, ‘Don't worry mate, this thing tastes good, you're going to be okay! They are going to sell a lot of these'.

“Neither myself or my daughter drink, but they had a non-alcoholic version which tasted very nice.”

Friends, family members and organisations will also hold special events. In the past three weeks, $12,000 has been raised, however much of that will go to charity LCCA.

“They loaned him the money for his first surgery to remove his cancerous kidney so he needs to pay that back before they'll even consider us for another loan,” said Ms Edwards.

Mr Edwards admitted he doesn't always find it as easy as his daughter to stay optimistic.

“I am optimistic in certain things,” he said. “But sometimes going through this can get emotional. It can get you down. But I have turned to God. Never in my life did I ever imagine Gayneté doing something like this for me but knowing her, it doesn't surprise me.”

He hopes that when he gets off dialysis he will have more time for his passion — singing with the music group Euphonics.

Indeed, it's how he and his daughter plan to spend Father's Day.

“We'll probably go out for brunch in the morning,” said Ms Edwards. “In the afternoon, my dad is going to be singing with Euphonics.”

Special bond: Gayneté Edwards wants to give her father her kidney (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Guiding light: Gayneté Edwards as a little girl getting a hug from her father Randy (Photograph supplied)
<p>How you can help</p>

• A fundraising page for Mr Edwards can be found here: bit.ly/kidneyfordaddy

• Donations can also be made through Butterfield Bank under the name Robert Edwards: BNTB BDA account: 0601060710015; BNTB USD account: 8401060710027.

• A takeout dinner will be held at The Ex-Artillery Men’s Association today from 5pm-8pm. Tickets are $15.

• For more information e-mail akidneyfordaddy@gmail.com or call 333-0875.

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Published June 17, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 17, 2016 at 10:39 am)

Daughter’s gift of life for beloved father

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