Tristan’s Story

My name is Tristan and I donated my kidney on July 12, 2007. I want to begin by telling you a little about myself and what I do. I am 23 years old with two great kids (age 2 and 4) and a beautiful wife. We live in Maryland. I am an apprentice at a great company and I go to school.

So here’s where it gets interesting. It all began in May 2007 when I got a phone call from my mom. She asked me if I would be tested to see if I could donate my kidney to my cousin. My dad and his two brothers had already been tested and failed the cross match. At that time my cousin was left with no compatible donors.

I had no doubts about moving forward. I knew in my heart that this was the right thing to do. After all, my cousin was just a kid and kids are supposed to being playing, not on dialysis.

The first step to getting tested was sending a blood sample to my cousin’s transplant center in New York. The test kit was mailed to me since I lived out of state. I received the test kit days after I spoke to the transplant coordinator. I had my blood drawn and had it over-nighted. I waited anxiously for the call to find out the results.

Five days later I got the call. The voice on the other end said “You’re a match”. It was the greatest feeling. My wife and I called family and friends to share the news. The support I received was remarkable. I then contacted my employer and school. They were kind enough to help by giving me the time off I needed for recovery. And my school rearranged my schedule so that I didn’t miss any classes.

My daughter who turned four less than a week before the surgery was so happy that her daddy could help another little girl. My wife was very supportive and has been by my side through the entire process.

When I called my aunt to tell her the news I could hear the emotion in her voice, I remember it like it was yesterday, her words were “You’re a Godsend”. Later that day I spoke to my uncle and told him that if anybody else was a match, I wanted to donate first. I felt that this was my calling in life.

The next week I was on a train to New York for a complete donor evaluation. It was a full day… X-rays, EKG, CAT scans, an interrogation by the social worker and all the other procedures done during a routine physical exam. In the end, all the tests went perfect. But my real fear was that I would fail the final cross match test.

We flew back to New York a week before the surgery. I did the final cross match test in person. I passed! I was ecstatic and very relieved that someone (Me) had finally passed the second cross match. The surgery was a definite.

I left for New York two days before the surgery. I met with a few people from the hospital the day before the “big day”. I had to be at the hospital at 5:45am on the July 12. After leaving my wife and family in the waiting room, the surgery began around 7:30am. The doctors made a few incisions and removed my left kidney using a laparoscopic procedure.

I stayed in the hospital overnight and was released the next evening. My cousin received my kidney well. It immediately started to clean her blood and create urine. Within the first 24 hours she produced 20 liters of urine. Surprisingly, hearing that gave me goose bumps! I was so excited to hear that they had removed her dialysis catheter. She was certainly grateful, but knowing that I was able to give her the chance to live a better life is indescribable.

After taking it easy in New York for a week, we returned back to Maryland and went home to our kids. A few days later I developed a suroma, which is fluid build up in the tissue near the scar. I went to a local hospital and had it drained. Other than that minor inconvenience, I felt great! And exactly four weeks after the surgery I was body surfing the waves in Ocean City. Those other guys couldn’t keep up!

I have no regrets. Only hopes for more people to help others like I did. I know that I will live a perfectly normal and healthy life with just one kidney. And the greatest part is that I am alive to witness this miracle.

My name is Tristan Smith and I am a proud donor!