My Kidney Donor Story by Julie Sindel

I suppose the only place to start is the beginning. I have always believed in organ donation, although I had never even considered live donation until one very special day in April 2007.

It all began when my husband was reading the paper and had tossed a section of the paper in my direction. Personally I choose not to read the paper and watch very little news. I like to steer clear off all that negativity. But on this day I chose to take a look. There on the front of this section was an article about a 19 year old boy who needed a kidney transplant. The article told of his situation, his family, his blood type and asked if anyone was willing to donate could they please contact a number that had been set up by his family.

Originally after reading the article I said to my husband “I should call”, his reply are you crazy you are always running around doing stuff what am I supposed to tell people “oh yeah Julie is helping the kids at school today, running to the bank and donating a kidney”. Although I found his response to be amusing it was true. Anyway over the next few days I looked at the article I had left sitting on the counter. At one point I threw it away thinking I must be crazy I have three small children and I am going to put myself in harms way for a stranger. But the truth was if this had been one of my children I would have hoped and prayed that someone would help us. Therefore I finally decided to make the call. I knew my blood type was a match and figured if this was meant to be that it would all work out.

That afternoon I got a call back from his mom. Thanking me and asking for my address so she could have the Drs. Office send me a script for blood work. It arrived and I went and had the test done. A few days later I received a card from his mom asking me to call the Hospital where the surgery would be performed because the coordinator would need to talk to me. I followed up immediately. Very soon I was scheduled for more tests. The first time I went up to the hospital was to meet with the nurse coordinator, surgeon, nephrologists, and social worker. I had blood work, chest x-ray and EEG. It was a fun filled 5 hours. Next was a call back the following week to come in and get and MRI and MRA. I scheduled an appointment. By this time word had gotten back to the family that I would be going back for the final testing. They contacted me and asked if we could be in contact. I was a little hesitant. I did not want to get close and then have something come back with the testing that would not allow me to donate. But his mother was very persistent in her need to meet me. So we agreed she would take the ride up to the hospital for the MRI with me. Well to my surprise she was so incredible and so sweet. I truly enjoyed her company. From that point on we spoke every week and she also took me to the hospital for my psychiatric evaluation. A week before the surgery I met the boy that would be receiving my kidney. The three of us (his mom, myself and the boy) went for the pre-admission testing together and bond was formed.

The Monday before our surgery my family and there family had dinner together. All the kids and the parents sitting, eating and getting to know each other. It was almost a setting out of a movie. But it was so great to see everyone interact as if they had known each other for a lifetime.

That Wednesday was our big day. I needed to arrive at the hospital an hour before him. I was starting to get a little nervous on the way there but new that I was making the right decision. I could not have turned my back on this situation. When arriving I was processed quickly and before I new it I was back in pre-op. This is when panic set in. I thought to myself what if I don’t wake up I have three small children. Fortunately for me I had the most wonderful anesthesiologist in the world. He was reassuring and made me a “martini cocktail” to calm me down. In other words he knocked me out. The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.

Surgery was on Wednesday and I was released on Saturday. I have to admit I was in more discomfort that I had anticipated. I thought I would be back to normal in approx a week but it took a good three weeks before I started to feel better. As I kept telling everyone my mind thinks its 25 but my body is letting me know we are only a few short months from 39.

All in all my experience was wonderful. My boy that I donated to took to my kidney wonderfully. The outpouring of food, cards and well wishes I received from both my family and his friends and family was more than overwhelming. Personally I did not look at my donation as some great heroic act as others did, I simply looked at it as one heck of a life experience. Like I originally said my motivation was that of one mother to another. I could never imagine the anguish you must feel knowing that your child is in this situation. People have asked me if I had to do it all over again would I? You bet. I never want to be the kind of person who looks back at their life and says I wish I would have. I will be the person who says yeah I did that and it was cool!