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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, waits for a news conference to begin in Vancouver, on Feb. 20, 2020.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

The president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs is used to advocating for the rights of First Nations, but now Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is facing a different kind of fight and advocating for himself.

In a letter posted on social media, Phillip says his chronic kidney disease has progressed to the point where his best chance to stay alive is a kidney transplant.

But he says the waiting list for an organ is very long and he’s appealing for a donation from a living donor.

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The grandfather of 15 says that, other than a transplant, his only treatment option is four-hour dialysis sessions three times a week.

He says a living-donor transplant would offer a “healthier, more normal life,” so he can remain as president of the organization furthering rights and title of most B.C. First Nations, a post he has held for nearly 24 years.

The Transplant BC website shows 644 people in the province are waiting for a kidney, and 32 living-donor kidney transplants have been done so far this year.

In his letter, Phillip appeals for anyone with the A-positive blood type to ask for a test to determine if they are a match for him or any similar patients on the waiting list.

“Asking my family, friends and supporters to consider donating a kidney to me is difficult, but it greatly improves my chances,” Phillip writes.

Transplant BC says dozens of patients die each year waiting for an organ transplant and, while most people agree with organ donation, about 28 per cent have registered their decision.

“Living-organ donation is an act of altruism,” says the organization, noting that it reduces the wait time for patients in need of a life-saving kidney or liver.

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