Donna Prepares to Donate to Her Husband

My husband and I are scheduled for surgery on Tuesday and the stories on this site put a smile on my face.

In November of 2009 my husband had what we thought were the first pangs of kidney stones. After a 911 call and a quick trip to the hospital, we found out that one of his kidneys was not functioning and the other was surrounded by blood. A week in ICU and a transfer to another hospital finally brought him home, but the task of finding out what was wrong had just begun. After visiting three nephrologists, we were finally happy with one that spoke to us, not down at us.

By June of 2010 we were told that his kidney function was at about 18% and that we were looking at about 12 – 18 months tops before dialysis and a transplant were necessary. We began the process of getting on transplant lists. Since we live in NJ, St. Barnabas was our first choice. The process was long, but the team at the transplant unit is top notch. It was also suggested that we contact other states since the wait in NJ is 5 – 7 years. We talked to family and friends and one at a time most were eliminated. My husband is an only child and has very little family so the list was short.  I had gastric bypass surgery in May of 2009. I have lost almost 100 pounds, but we were told that this surgery would cause me to be an absolute last resort as a donor. We had plans for a family trip to FL in November and started to make arrangements for a day at the hospital down there. While all of this was going on, we sent out letters to other police and firefighters throughout the state of NJ to request people get tested as a possible donor.

In September we were able to get an appointment at Columbia Presbyterian in NY and spent the day getting the testing done for the transplant list there. While waiting, one of the nurses asked if I was planning on getting tested. I explained to her what we had been told and she suggested that I get tested while I was there to let us know if I would match even as a last resort. They would have results in 7 – 10 days. We agreed that it could not hurt to at least know if I would be a match. A week later we called and they did not have any results. the following Monday while I was at work, my husband called the hospital to see if they had results. They would not provide him with details, but that afternoon when I got home, he called me over near him, put me in a big bear hug, and with the biggest smile on his face whispered in my ear, “You’re a match!!” We thought our wait was over. I immediately contacted the doctor that performed my bypass surgery and asked if this was something that could be done. When I was told it was possible and that he works with the doctors at St. Barnabas, our decision was now to stay at Columbia or move everything to St. Barnabas. My husband was more comfortable with the doctors at St. Barnabas, my doctor was there, and it was closer to home, so it really was an easy decision.

The testing began quickly and we were told that surgery could occur as early as November. Unfortunately with my husband’s schedule as a police officer and mine as a school administrator, days off are not easy to obtain and testing took longer than expected. We decided to wait until after the holidays and have things as normal as possible for our three children. The last week in December we went to the transplant center to complete our final testing and pick a date. I wanted to get it completed as quickly as possible, so we decided on January 4th. On New Year’s Eve, our wedding anniversary, we received a call that the surgery would have to be changed because they found kidney stones in my right kidney during the CT scan. We thought our journey would have to begin again. After a calming phone call from Dr. Mulgaonkar, we found out that this was not the end, but a bump. Surgery would have to be postponed for a week so that additional testing could be performed. Our next bump would be the family meeting. Twice we needed to postpone due to snowstorms in the Northeast. I am happy to say we attended our family meeting yesterday and are scheduled for the transplant on Tuesday.

Although I am concerned that my children are worried, I am confident that all will go well and I look forward to having my fun loving healthy husband back in no time at all.