Ginger Donates to Dad
On November 14, 2003, my Father, who was diagnosed with PKC back in 1971, went into renal failure. This day, too, was the end of a perfect life. My reason for saying that is because his Mother passed away with the same disease many years ago.
I began to try and reach out to others to find out what we needed to do as a family to be able to help him. I had never really gone through this other than the fact that I saw her fade away what seemed so quickly. My Father was told that he needed to leave work and go home, get clothes, and contact family ASAP. We had gone from 20% function to single digits.
Everyone who we knew began to call to find out what was needed to be checked to be a donor, only to be told that there were several things my Father needed to do before they would even consider a transplant. Quit Smoking after 40 years of trying and diet. So immediately he did just that! There were five of us ready and willing, myself, my husband, sister, her spouse, and a total stranger who worked with my Mother. In April they started to contact us about test dates and I must say the fear set in real fast because we started to see changes in him that broke our hearts. Little did we know that he had told his Social Worker that under NO circumstances were they to allow his daughters to be tested. When we learned this news we knew that we had to quietly for once in our lives go behind our Father’s back and get tested.
Now everyone has their own scary stories but I am here to tell you “there is no bigger baby than myself.” I was scared to death…! We started with the same-day blood test; this was to be done in the state in which I lived and at the same time that my Father was having blood drawn that day. This consisted of four vials from both him and myself. A few weeks passed and we had to do it again, but this time it was seven vials. One more week passed, and we had to repeat the test again. I will be honest I have NO veins so the blood drawing was the worst thing that they did to me during this whole process.
We still did not let my Father know that I was doing this up until the final testing was to take place. I would go to Georgia at Piedmont Hospital for a two-day testing to which I was admitted into the hospital, but I stayed in the Hotel in the hospital and came and went as I pleased.
2nd phase. This was my all-day schedule:
8:00 am Go to the Doctors office there in the hospital and have blood drawn, EKG and talk with several doctors, Social Worker, Chief Renal Surgeon, Psychologist, 2nd Kidney Doctor
Evening: Slept with blood pressure monitor, 24 urine Analysis, fasting at midnight for the two major test
2nd Day 6:00 am CT Scan with contrast
6:30 am Renal Scan with small baby IV
7:00 am Chest X-ray. Rest of the day I spent waiting to talk with more Doctors!
There you have it; that was my ordeal. Not too bad for someone who is a Big baby. The funny thing was that they told us that it would be three weeks before we new if I was a match for my Dad. Well, when the call came in, I was in shock because I thought I would be ruled out because of something I had missed throughout the years. You could hear my Father’s tears silently streaming down his face because you could have heard a pin drop. He ask me if they had tested me for the disease, I said Dad I just had the best check up a person could have, and I am a 98% positive match for you.
My children have been checked and we were all clear of PKD.
So now for the good part….. I am Happy to report that on June 10, 2003, we entered into Piedmont Hospital to prepare for surgery. I was terrified. June 10th the worst thing we did was have blood drawn before 6:00 PM and stayed on a liquid diet. The worst thing above the blood work was the cleaning out of your system. You have no modesty after this, but you will survive with no pain.
On June 11, 2003, at 6:00am they came for us. This was the moment I waited on for a while and that was to see that those little moments that I may have thought about backing out would all change when I was rolled out that door. I looked and there in front of me was the Father that would have without a thought done the same thing for us. I looked and saw the tears coming from his eyes and all our family crowded around us crying. I reached over and all I could do was wipe his eyes and say, “Let’s do this! Are you ready?”
They took us down to preop and started our IVs, and they seemed to run into some trouble with mine again because I have such small and deep veins. So by this time I was crying, with my husband by my side telling me everything would be fine and that he would be there waiting on me when I came out. I can’t remember anything after that due to the meds. But the world’s greatest doctors and nurses at Piedmont tell me that my Father was a miracle; the discoloring on his hands began to fade in front of them and that his kidney began to perk up within seconds of being transplanted.
So here we are August 30th, and he looks like he is in his early forties. His face had filled out all the wrinkles and darkness on his face, his hands are normal again, and my gosh can he eat! He still is strict on his diet and walks 2-3 miles a day. As for myself, I have lost my weight because my stomach shrank in the hospital. I have a three-inch scar above my belly button and two 1/2 inch to an inch scars on my left side. I feel great and all has healed fine. This surgery is no worse than a C-section. In fact, the C-section is worse.
So if anyone is thinking about being a donor, please do so because it will change your life for the better; it really is not bad at all. I would do again if I could. For every person out there who needs a donor, this message is for you: Please never give up hope because when you least expect it, there will be someone around the corner for you to. God really changed my life and brought my family closer, but the best thing is that we saved my Dad and made some wonderful friends along the way.