I read the newspaper every day. … My journey began one day this past Summer when I came across an article about a man who lost his 16-year-old daughter tragically in a car accident. His daughter was an organ donor, and he was very inspired when he learned that her heart valves saved another person’s life. In her memory, he began to advocate for people to become organ donors.
Early on he learned of the need and opportunity to be a living kidney donor, and he did just this … which is what the article was about.
I, too, have made the decision to donate my organs when I die, but before reading the article this past Summer, I had no idea that it was possible to be a living kidney donor. I also had no idea how many people were on the waiting list for a kidney, – 87,000 – and how many people were dying each year while waiting for one – approximately 5,000.
I was surprised to learn that a person can lead a normal life with only one kidney, and furthermore, I was encouraged to hear that the donor’s surgery is laparoscopic, which is less invasive than traditional surgery, with a much shorter recovery time.
Although there are always risks with any surgery, being a living kidney donor overall is very safe.
I am a Christian, and therefore I seek out God’s wisdom through prayer before making any big decisions. Before I even finished reading the newspaper article, I felt God prompting me to consider being a living kidney donor.
I imagined what it would be like to have a family member whose kidneys were failing and in need of a kidney transplant, knowing that without it his/her quality of life would be greatly compromised and significantly shortened. Undoubtedly, a few of my family members would step up to donate, but what if we learned that none of us were are a match; which unfortunately occurs about 30% of the time. We would be disheartened; hope is lost. The average wait for a deceased donor kidney is five years.
But then our family learns of the concept of “kidney pairing,” which gives a person in need of a kidney a much better chance of receiving one, if they have a person willing to donate their kidney to another person who is a match. We have hope again!
My decision to be a living kidney donor came after praying to God for guidance, talking with my husband Mike, and sister Stacey, putting myself “in the other person’s shoes,” and reflecting on the forty-three years of good health that God has blessed me with…for me it was a fairly easy decision.
In the subsequent weeks, I did some further research on the internet on the subject of being a living kidney donor. This included reading about the experiences of two recent donors, Cara Yesawich and Angela Stimpson. I found their blog sites to be very informative and inspiring. Another valuable site with a wealth of information is The Living Kidney Donors network. There is a wealth of information on this site for both those needing a kidney and for living donors. Harvey Mysel, founder of the non-profit organization, is a kidney recipient himself and I printed several articles from the site for my family to read so they could fully understand the process.
A very valuable source of information and support to me during my journey in being a living kidney donor, was the mentoring I received from Cara Yesawich. Cara is an altruistic kidney donor who was the domino for eight people to receive a kidney in largest kidney pairing of Northwestern Hospital’s history. She is very passionate about being a mentor for others who are on this journey, and in helping to raise the awareness of the need for living kidney donors.
She “walked me through,” each step of my journey and came to the hospital to offer her support immediately following my surgery, what a blessing she was to me! For anyone considering being a living kidney donor, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the “gift” of mentorship and I welcome the opportunity to share my experience with anyone.
Please feel free to e-mail me at: email@example.com.
My surgery was on December 30; I am an altruistic donor, and three people were able to receive a kidney in my pairing at Northwestern Hospital. Everything went as planned; I spent one night in the hospital. I experienced moderate pain the first several days and slept a lot. After about a week I turned the corner and was able to return to work half days (my energy still wasn’t back 100%).
I was back to work full-time the third week and now I am about four weeks out from the surgery and feel back to normal. I plan on starting to run again in a week or two and am registered to run another marathon in September.
I received a beautiful card from the family of the gentleman who received my kidney in the kidney pairing … part of it reads:
It is impossible to thank someone for a gift such as you have given to us. Dialysis allowed my dad to live but your gift of a kidney has given him a renewed quality of life worth living, and for that we are eternally grateful….”
The sacrifice that I made in donating one of my kidneys was minimal, compared to the gift of an improved quality of life which I was able to give to someone else.