David Ayres, Zamboni driver and emergency goalie, launches fund for kidney patients

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Two months after he rocketed to fame as an emergency backup goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, David Ayres is turning that fame toward a good cause.

The 42-year-old has teamed up with the Kidney Foundation of Canada to kick-start an emergency fund to help those with kidney disease get the help they need amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Ayres, the initiative is a deeply personal one.

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At the age of 27, around 15 years before he would stun audiences and help the Hurricanes take a crucial 6-3 victory over Toronto, the Zamboni driver, Maple Leafs practice goaltender, and Mattamy Athletic Centre operations manager received a kidney transplant from his mother after being diagnosed with kidney disease.

I couldn’t see anybody,” Ayres recalled on Friday of his 17-day stint in a hospital intensive care unit early on when he began having kidney problems.

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His hospital stay coincided with the SARS outbreak, which would infect 247 people in Canada, half of them health-care workers, and leave 44 dead.

“You couldn’t tell the difference between who the nurses were that came in,” he told Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Devon Peacock.

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