Written by Helen Brennan, Living Kidney Donor
When my sister told me that my brother-in-law needed a kidney transplant, I knew I wanted to be tested to be his living donor. I had always liked the idea of organ donation and had registered as a bone marrow donor years before. Plus, I’ve known Andy since high school and consider him a friend as well as family.
When we found out we were the same blood type, I was ready to begin my screening. Andy lives in Houston, so my testing and surgery was done there. I went to Houston to begin the daylong series of tests to ensure not only that I was a match, but also that I was healthy enough to undergo surgery and live with one kidney. I also met with my surgeon, an organ donor advocate, and a social worker.
Several follow up tests and a couple of weeks later, I was confirmed as a match and Andy’s donor. I was really excited to know that I would have the opportunity to donate my kidney. I was grateful for the amazing medical workers who make kidney donation possible.
Because Andy also would be receiving a pancreas, we were put on hold until a donor pancreas was available. I received a call from Andy about 3 weeks later. A possible donor pancreas was making its way to Andy’s surgeons in Houston for testing. Andy told me to get some rest and be ready for the final call. My donor advocate from the hospital called about 6 hours later and told me that we had a match and were all clear for surgery that day. On July 23, 2013 I flew to Houston and my sister picked me up and took me to the hospital for more blood work and a final testing of my blood compatibility with Andy’s.
I was put in a room to wait to be called back to surgery. My family was with me to keep me company and put me at ease. I was not scared or worried, just excited.
They called Andy back for surgery first and me about an hour later. As the nurses and doctors were preparing me for surgery, I started to get a bit anxious. A nurse held my hand until the anesthesia put me under. I woke up about 5 hours later in ICU. The surgery had been successful and Andy was doing great. I was in some pain, but the nurses kept me medicated and comfortable.
The next day I was moved to a regular room and was able to see Andy for a few minutes. I was discharged from the hospital 3 days after surgery and was able to come back to Dallas about a week after that. I healed quickly and was able to go back to my normal routine in a few weeks.
Today, my health is great. I live a very active life and am not limited in any way by my donation. I think donating my kidney was an incredible experience.