Patricia Donates to a Stranger

I had heard about donating a kidney on the news and thought “What a great idea!, I’ll have to do that someday.” Then, I filed this tidbit along with the other thousand ideas of good things to do – someday. Then in December 2002, I heard another transplant story. Again, I thought – some day. Then, two weeks later, I was talking with my neighbor and found out that she is the transplant coordinator at a Philadelphia hospital. She told me some of the heartwarming stories and great strides that are being made in transplantations. Then, she said that the operation can be done by laparoscopic surgery. At that point, I knew there was no excuse not to donate now. I told her, “Sign me up!.”

Of course, the transplant coordinator wanted me to think long and hard about it. The only thing I had to think about was when would be the best time to do it. Since I babysit for my four grandchildren and my son-in-law is a school teacher, I asked him not work in the summer so I could have the operation then and be able to recuperate before the new school year.

In February, I started the testing procedures. The operation was scheduled for July 1, 2003. Unfortunately, the recipient had to undergo a heart catheterization and the operation was rescheduled for July 22. While I was on the operation table, I was told by the anesthesiologist that he would not be able to do what I was doing. I thought, “Why would he say such a thing? Why don’t health care professionals donate their kidneys?”

From the day that I heard the operation could be done by laparoscopy surgery until the operation itself, there was not one moment of hesitation or indecision; I had not one moment of fear or apprehension.

I was admitted on Tuesday and discharged Saturday, but I could have gone home on Friday. I took the pain medication offered in the hospital but only used Tylenol for two days after I got home. There was some bloating; the incision were tender if I pressed up against something; minor gas; some constipation; and two nights of coughing after discharge. Also, I still have tingling and numbness in the last two fingers of left hand due to the way my left arm was positioned during surgery. That my disappear in time but if it doesn’t, so what. It was about five weeks before I felt like I had my pep back but I was active during that time.

My recipient wrote me a very nice thank you and I spoke with him when we are still in the hospital. He said we would meet when he’s feeling better, but even if we never meet, that’s okay. I feel very lucky to be so healthy that I could donate. I also feel that I had angels guiding me throughout the process and operation and recovery and continuing through today. My husband asked me why I would donate to a stranger. Well, I don’t know anyone with kidney disease or in need of a transplant; if I wait til I die to donate, my organs may not be usable for transplant. If I’m willing to donate then, why not now. I certainly would be willing to donate to someone I know, but no one I know needs a kidney so why not give to someone I haven’t met yet. It’s been a great experience and I’ve met a lot of great people since then.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Patricia