It’s OK to be Scared

Hi my name Mark Mountford I’m 41 and recently donated a kidney to my brother lee who is 28.

We are now 4 weeks post op and we are both recovering amazingly well, Lee’s new kidney is functioning brilliantly, in fact his blood tests show that it is even functioning slightly better than my remaining kidney (much to his amusement) so I’ve told him I want that one back and he can have this one!! that soon wiped the smile from his face.

I wish I could tell you how brave I was, how I had no doubts whatsoever, but that would be far from the truth….

My brother was born with only one functioning kidney, but over the years this also started to fail, until at the age of 24 he was forced to go onto dialysis, four of the family volunteered to be a donor, but I decided I would go forward with the tests, we were told that the testing could take a few months, so to be honest it seemed a long way away for the time being.

The tests started at the beginning of 2006, blood tests, mri scans, radiology scans, appointments with consultants, psychologists, more blood tests etc etc, my brother came with me to all the appointments,and I was treated well throughout the whole process, by March 2006 it was established I was a very good match, and we were given the all clear to go for the transplant, but then it was discovered that my brother also had bladder problems, and had to go through a couple of reconstructive surgeries on his bladder, my brother was looking quite ill at this time, but nothing seemed to phase him, he never felt sorry for himself, never whinged, and never burdened anybody with his problems, I admired him immensely, and at this time I had no doubt what I was doing was the right thing.

Because of the additional surgery, we were not given the all clear for the transplant until Feb 2008, it was then that things moved along very quickly, we were given a surgery date of March 14th 2008, up until this point it had never seemed definite, but now we had a date, and the closer we got the more of my day was spent thinking about it.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a wimp, I have been in many situations in my life that I think would make many people cower in a corner, I was in the Army for eight years, where I served on many active tours of duty, I have been an active member of the local karate club for the last few years, entering many competitions and fighting tournaments. None of this stuff makes me nervous in the slightest, I think it has to do with control, in these situations I’ve always been in control, but this was completely different, I have long known that there are two things that make me nervous, flying and hospitals, two things I have no control over.

We were admitted into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on the afternoon before the operation. My brother was in high spirits, I on the other hand was a nervous wreck, my partner Louise did her best to calm me down, but I have this terrible habit of concentrating on the negative, instead of taking comfort in the many thousands of these transplants that happen without any problems whatsoever, I always concentrate on the things that could go wrong.

I had a sleepless night, but the morning came very quickly, the porter came for me about 9.00am, but all of a sudden there was a problem with my blood results that they had taken the day before, my creatinine level had shot up, it turned out that I was just dehydrated, probably from the nerves. An hour later my morning blood results had come back, and because they’d had me on a drip overnight I had rehydrated and was cleared for surgery, now don’t get me wrong although I was terribly nervous, I had no doubt that what I was doing was the right thing, and I would rather of died than let my brother down.

As I was wheeled down to surgery a strange feeling of calm came over me, whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I was wheeled into the anesthetic room, where a couple of very nice nurses chatted away to me putting me at ease. I told the anesthetist just to do what he had to do, I didn’t want any of that counting back from ten stuff. The next thing I remember is waking up in what seemed only seconds later, I knew the surgery had happened from the slight pain I could feel in my abdomen, I had chosen epidural as my pain relief, unlike morphine this does not make you feel groggy at all and I was wide awake within minutes, the feeling of relief was just too much for me, and I admit I shed a tear or two ( I cried like a baby if the truth be known, but I’m told that this can be an affect of the anesthetic,it makes you very emotional, well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!!). A few minutes later my brother was wheeled past me, he asked if I was ok and I wished him good luck.

I was wheeled back up to the ward, waiting in the corridor was my whole family, my dad was first to greet me, he shook my hand as they wheeled me past, my partner Louise stopped the bed and gave me a kiss, they then wheeled me onto the ward and hooked me up too a couple of drips, my family was then allowed to join me, and we waited nervously for Lee to join us back on the ward.

Lee returned to the ward about 3 hours later, he was very drowsy for a few hours, but soon came round, I won’t bore you with a step by step account of our recovery, suffice to say we were both looked after very well, and both recovered very quickly,I suffered very little discomfort or pain, Lee’s kidney kicked in straightaway, and his blood tests revealed that it went from strength to strength in the days that followed. I was released five days after surgery, and I too have recovered very quickly. Four weeks after surgery I am able to do some light jogging, and have even enjoyed a couple of sessions of my favorite past time fishing.

I had the surgery laproscopically, and have two small incisions and one about 4-5 inches long, and already hardly notice that they are there, except when I sneeze, ouch!!!!

There are a couple of things i would like to share with you, after surgery your bowel system will close down, and this can be uncomfortable for a few days, but it will kick back in, one word of warning though, do not overdo the amount you eat for the first week or so, i did on my first day of release, and suffered the most awfull trapped wind, infact it was the most pain i had suffered throughout the whole procedure(you have been warned).

I have written this because i found the other stories on here a great comfort to me in the run up to my operation, if you are thinking of donating i can only tell you how rewarding it is seeing my brother looking so much better, and making plans and looking forward to the rest of his life. There a lot of stories on here, some have donated to a family member, some to friends and some even to complete strangers( i still don’t know wether these people deserve a Victoria cross for compassion or putting in a straightjacket for there own safety, i will give them the benenefit of the doubt and choose to believe they are extremely compassionate and kind people). Whatever your decision make sure it is the right one for you, life asks lots of questions of us, its how we answer them, that shows what sort of person we are.

If you would like to ask me anything please dont hesitate to email me:

Good luck and best wishes

Mark Mountford