Janice’s Birthday Gift to Her Husband: a Kidney
Richard Uible was diagnosed with kidney failure in January 2001. He was on dialysis 1-1/2 years before getting a kidney from his wife. The double surgery was performed at Christ Hospital on October 29, 2002. This was also Richard’s sixty-first birthday, a day to celebrate, a day he will never forget. The right kidney of his wife, Janice, was removed at 7:00 a.m. and this birthday gift was given to Richard by the highly skilled team of surgeons. Janice left the hospital in 3 days and Richard was released 2 weeks later.
It started in November 2000 when Richard agreed to get his nose fixed and stop the wall-shaking snoring that his sleep apnea was causing……………
Routine pre-operative lab tests caused his surgeon, Dr. Mark Mandell-Brown, to find the first signs of abnormal bloodwork and EKG. His surgery was cancelled. Richard was stunned; he had regular medical checkups, including a full physical evaluation in May 2000. Instead of his surgery and recuperation, Richard began the first of many visits to specialists. Dr. Frank Albers told him that it was only a matter of time before his kidney functions would stop entirely. Richard was given the standard options to consider: dialysis, transplant work-up, or hospice care. Janice encouraged him to prepare for dialysis by having an access surgically created; it would take up to 4 months to be ready for use.
Richard had this surgery at Christ Hospital in February 2001 and, while waiting for the “wolf at the door,” he began to be worked up for qualification as a kidney transplant recipient. After extensive tests, Richard was found to be acceptable and healthy enough for transplant surgery. But he was 60 years old and the dialysis that could be starting soon would be hard on him physically, hard enough to take its toll through heart complications that could disqualify him. The cadaver transplant waiting list was long; a year and a half was an average wait for a kidney. Richard is the oldest of 9 children. There were no suitable donors in that large family that included their children and spouses — a total of 22 people. His parents were too old and frail to even be tested to save their son. It was hard to believe that there was no one that could or would be able to give Richard the chance to live a normal live.
Janice asked the doctors to try her. Initially they had refused to test her, telling her that a related donor would be a more realistic chance of a good match and the odds were not in favor of her being compatible as a donor for her husband. Janice went back to trying to understand the complicated kidney medical terms and tests by researching them on the Internet. The Google.com search engine produced many positive results for Keywords : “living unrelated kidney donor.” Janice read with hope and anticipation that she could qualify as Richard’s donor.
Finally the feisty 54 year old high school dropout insisted on being tested on May 9, 2001. Results: Janice was a 5 out of 6 antigen match. First battle won! But the disease progressed . On June 30, 2001, Richard began dialysis 3 days a week for 5 hours at a time. He hated this necessary procedure that left him exhausted and depleted but keeping him alive. He knew that he did not want to continue living like this. The dietary restrictions, the aches and pains made it hard to even think about the future. His only hope was that Janice would pass the next round of tests and be allowed to be his donor.
Life is hard but God is good; Janice was cleared for donation. She felt like she had been accepted as an astronaut. Besides saving Richard, having a living donor would free up a cadaver kidney for someone else. More tests, then a few more setbacks, 2 “postponements” of the transplant surgery, a few complications that needed to be fine tuned and then–It’s A Go!
The double surgery was performed at Christ Hospital on October 29, 2002. This was also Richard’s sixty-first birthday, a day to celebrate, a day he will never forget. Janice’s right kidney was removed at 7:00 a.m., and this birthday gift was given to Richard by the highly skilled team of surgeons. Janice left the hospital in 3 days and Richard was released 2 weeks later. They are recuperating while staying at the Kingsgate Conference Center.
Click here to visit Janice’s Internet diary.