Dee Sangha

by Steven Noble

“When Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary”
Outstanding Achievement AWARD
Presented to Mrs. Dee Sangha
In recognition of over 15 years of dedication and
support of renal patients and The Vancouver
Island Kidney Patients’ Association, raising over

Her contributions have touched many lives in the
renal community on Vancouver Island.
Presented by The Vancouver Island Kidney
Patients’ Association November 2008

Full article can be found in the newsletter
and also on the Dee Sangha Awards page.
….The Jagdis Sangha Story
Originally published in The Renal Review May 2005

According to Jagdis Sangha, her life is pretty ordinary. Dee, as she prefers to be called, was born in Victoria, the fourth of six children. At the age of two her family moved to the Lower Mainland where she attended Lord Byng Elementary, Steveston Elementary and Richmond High. At the age of sixteen she moved back to Victoria to live with her sister. It was in Victoria at a party that she met her future husband Ranjit (Jake). They married two years later on April 8, 1956. Jake and Dee have three children: Randy, Maya and Janik, as well as six grandchildren. Randy lives in Courtenay, the two girls in Victoria. In 1974 the family moved to their current home on Kentwood Terrace. They are fortunate enough to have been able to purchase a second home in Phoenix eight years ago. Jake was partner in a trucking company (now Island Asphalt) and retired in 2001.

….Over the years Dee occasionally worked at various part-time jobs. When the children were small she was involved with the Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) at their schools. She also bowled and played baseball with the kids.
….Both Dee and Jake come from a Punjabi heritage. Dee has been to India once, in 1980-81, while Jake has been several times. They both hope to travel to India again later this year, if Dee’s health permits, taking two of their grandchildren with them.
….Although it may seem ordinary, Dee’s life has not been without challenges. As a small child she spent nine months at a sanatorium in Vancouver with tuberculosis. In 1988, at the age of fifty, she suffered a major heart attack. A couple of years later Dee went to see her doctor because she was frequently needing to use the washroom. The doctor did some bloodwork and on Christmas Eve she received a phone call telling her to get to the hospital immediately. She remained in hospital for ten days and it was then that she found out she had renal failure. As with most people, Dee did not relish the prospect of dialysis. She was lucky enough to have six people in her family who offered to be tested as possible organ donors. Two were found to be compatible: her sister Gurdeep and her daughter Maya. The doctor decided that Maya would be the better candidate. On March 19, 1993, the transplant was performed at Vancouver General. Unlike many people who end up with renal failure caused by diabetes, it wasn’t until a year after her transplant that Dee became diabetic. In addition to the various anti-rejection drugs that she takes, she is also on insulin, and she suffers from arthritis.

….Despite her challenges, Dee is determined to give back — in a big way — for all she has received. A year after her transplant Dee and Jake decided to host a golf tournament for family and friends. The event was so successful that they decided it would be a wonderful way to raise money for a worthwhile charity. In recognition of the gift of life which Dee received from their daughter Maya they decided to hold the tournament on the August long weekend to coincide with Dee’s birthday and to donate the proceeds to the Vancouver Island Kidney Patients’ Association (VIKPA). The first year they raised $400. The tournament, played at Cordova Bay Golf Course, was followed by a dinner catered by Dee at their Broadmead home.

….The next year they raised $1000. Each year the tournament grew bigger and bigger and became more and more successful. By 2001 a total of almost $30,000 had been raised and the tournament had outgrown Dee and Jake’s home. The following year it was moved to Cedar Hill Golf Course, where it has taken place ever since. The move to Cedar Hill allowed the tournament to keep growing. In 2003 alone, for Dee’s sixty-fifth birthday and the tournament’s tenth anniversary, an additional $25,000 was raised. Never one to sit on her laurels, Dee was determined that the following year’s event would be better still. Last year they raised a further $30,000! This brought the total raised to date to an absolutely amazing $105,000! For the past several years Dee’s tournament has been VIKPA’s main source of funding. All thanks to one extraordinary woman.

….Although she receives help and support from family and friends, Dee is, without doubt, the driving force behind the golf tournament. Months ahead she starts organizing the tournament and dinner, phoning and faxing, lining up golfers and guests. She relentlessly pursues donations of prizes, raffle and auction items, as well as cash donations. Dee says, “I know I’m heavy-handed, but it’s a cause I believe in.” She also hands out organ donor registration cards to everyone attending, giving them the opportunity to register as organ donors, and to give in a completely different way.

….In recognition for all she has done for VIKPA and Vancouver Island kidney patients, this year Dee has been nominated for the YMCA Women of Distinction Award in the Life Achievement category. Although she faces some stiff competition in her category, we know Dee is up for the challenge, and we believe she would make a very deserving Women of Distinction Award recipient. The winner will be announced on
May 19.

….According to Dee she is just an ordinary person who likes to golf, to cook and bake (anyone remember VIKPA’s bake sales), to knit (more than 100 scarves per year in the last five years which were given to street people) and to read fiction. She is just an ordinary women who has faced more than one life threatening challenge, an ordinary woman who has raised more than $105,000 for charity with no sign of stopping (This year she intends to raise $35,000). Dee may think she is just an ordinary woman, but we all know she is extraordinary!