Aurea’s Donation to Her Step-Father

I donated my left kidney to my step-father on January 4th, 2008. If I could I would do it again. The change in his health has been remarkable and I happy to report that we are both doing well 5 weeks after surgery.

Our story started in October of 2006. Dad (I’ve always called him Dad even though he’s my stepfather) was getting sicker and sicker and finally the nephrologists told us it was kidney disease. Dad’s a diabetic and the disease has taken its toll on his body. Dad was 65 then. We were fortunate in that we did not have to go search for a kidney.

We are 3 siblings and only one is a biological child. The 3 of us tested and we were all a match. Two of my 3 children tested and one of them was a good match and finally my niece tested and she was a match as well.  So we had 5 potential donors the big question became “Who will be the one?” We eliminated the younger ones first and then my sister because we were concerned about the diabetes. In Dad’s family it runs rampant and she is the biological child, we did not want to have to transplant again. So we were down to myself and my brother.

Life has a way of making choices for you some times. It turned out that Dad needed some vascular surgery prior to having a transplant and that his transplant wasn’t urgent yet he did not even need to go on dialysis yet so we waited. In October of 2008 our mom was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and she needed a lumpectomy followed by 6 weeks of radiation a month after the surgery. A week after her surgery Dad’s kidneys went down the tubes and we were told he was weeks away from dialysis. My brother lives with my parents and we were counting on him to take care of mom so logically we decided that I would be the donor. I live in Maine, my children are all grown up, my job was wonderfully supportive and most importantly I have a wonderful partner and a great network of friends that I knew would take good care of me so my brother could concentrate on my parents.

I had all of the required donor work up and found out that I had this condition called parathyroidism. The only thing that cures it is a surgery. I ended up having surgery on my parathyroid on December 27th and I was cleared for the transplant on January 2nd. We were transplanted on January 4th 2008.

I am back at work and as stated earlier I am well. I had an unrealistic expectation of recovery time and my friends would tell you that I’m not a very good patient.

Positive experiences: Dad’s immediate improvement, bonding experience, knowing who your friends really are.

Not so positive experiences: Did not expect so much pain, pain management at the hospital could have been so much better, surgeon did not seem very concerned about my experience. I was exhausted for weeks.

My advice to anyone considering a transplant is to be well prepared for all of it including being told you may be ruled out as a donor. Read as much as you can but only go to trusted websites. Don’t listen to the horror stories that people will want to tell you. Do it from your heart because you want to I did and I will never regret it.


Aurea Vega
Portland Maine