My Mom has Four Kidneys

The surgery went well for both my mother and me. We showed up to Mayo at 7:30 for our 9 surgery but didn’t get into pre-op until closer to 10. It didn’t really hit me that it was actually happening until they called my name to go back. I looked at my sister with tears glossing up my vision and said “Whoa this is really happening!”

I managed to hold it together as I turned the corner to get my height and weight. They then took me back to a joint room where my mom also got ready for surgery. You wear white compression tights with a hole in the bottom of your foot (so they can check reflexes or oxygen) with purple socks over them. They also put these electric Velcro things around your calf that squeeze your legs to prevent blood clots. I got in a paper gown and nothing else. They started an IV and hung four bags of saline to “plump up” my kidney. I ran to the bathroom a lot.

My family and I prayed together and of course I lost it, but I prayed right past the tears and shakey voice. My mom prayed with the same confidence she always has, because of the extreme example of faith she is. It always amazes me that she could easily have the woe is me mentality but she never has. She is always faithful and obedient and does whatever is necessary to live a wonderful life with her family. I’m proud to tell my moms story of trials and perseverance, and yet she is still joyful.

After we prayed and hung my last bag if saline I started to panic and had a hard time breathing. Damn nerves. The anesthesiologist gave me some medication for my nerves and I kissed my family goodbye, mom smiling and dad and sister happy but with laces of concern. It could not have been easy to know half of your family is undergoing a major surgery at the same time.

I don’t remember much but joking with my family I could feel the drugs, then being whisked away down the short corridor that led to a crowded operating room. I remember thinking is this all for me!? The overhead light was above me and someone as explaining to an intern how to do something, then I was out.

I thought I would have been in a room by lunch but there was a mixup and I stayed in recovery for 5 hours (instead of 1) without seeing my family. Needless to say I was angered by this and anxious that my family was worried. I think my surgery was close to 2.5 hours and my moms was about three. My first thought upon waking was the song “Glory to God… Take my life and let it be all for You and for Your glory.” I woke up in pain but it was very manageable. I was more curious about how my moms surgery went but I was scared to ask. I was afraid they would not have good news for me. A little while into recovery when I felt my pain was under control I asked the nurse if my mom was out of surgery. She said yes and she thought she was fine, but it still wasn’t very reassuring. Regardless I said “thank you Jesus” out loud. At least I knew her heart and lungs were working and she came out of surgery. I had two other nurses check for me and I began to be confident she was okay. I didn’t get an answer on her kidney working right away until well in to the evening when I talked to my sister Shawna. When I found out, a wave of relief came over me that all the pain and worry was all worth it. When I finally got a room it was on the third floor and room 32. The numbers 3 and 33 are my favorite. Another God Wink.

The night went by slowly, mostly because the nurses come by every half hour to give medicine or check vitals. I feel well rested though. I tried to get out of bed this morning with the nurses help but it hurt too badly. I committed that I would take as much pain medicine as I can get for the first day and then take it from there. I definitely am not an advocate of using a lot of pain medicine but I do think you heal better when you are not in pain. The pain is something that is really hard to describe; a constant dull pain with pressure and cramps. I found the only thing to really help is to stay still and try to breathe deeply although that hurts a bit in its own way. It’s also kind of nice to lay the bed back enough to stretch out just a little.

They also have me catheterized, which I wasn’t expecting (or selectively blocked it out) but it is actually really nice. I wouldn’t want to get up and down and try to go the bathroom every few hours. My urine is a great color, and I am producing almost a liter every few hours. All good signs for my remaining kidney.

My mom just stopped by my room, she is down the hall in another wing and is already up and walking. She is amazing. Her kidney is working and although it is a dark color they said that is normal for a recipient.

They do not take out the kidneys that no longer work unless they are infected or causing problems. My mom has the two kidneys she was born with, plus another one on the right from her last transplant, and the kidney formerly known as mine on her left. She has four kidneys. They also took my renal artery and I think some connective tissue to use in my mom. Pretty cool if you ask me.

I’ve asked for a regular breakfast and I am hoping I will be able to get it down. I haven’t eaten in 36 hours other than apple juice and ice. I’m hungry!

The nurses here at Mayo are amazing guardian angels. They also hold the keys to the drugs. 😀 I only have had a problem with one if them not wanting to give me medicine because she was very busy…trying to go home. Overall everyone has been amazing.

I believe that I will be going home later today if everything goes as planned. My lab numbers are improving and they are happy with my progress. Now just to eat, walk, and get all if this stuff removed. Just trying to take it minute by minute, one task at a time.

Thank you for the prayers; we had people praying for us all ofer the United States, and that makes all the difference. Not only was it comforting, but prayer works!

I was most anxious for my moms well being but we just had to have faith knowing she was in the hands of the almighty healer, and God heard our prayers.

I was next most nervous for my dad and sister who endured the hardest part of the surgery-the waiting. My good friend’s mom stopped by and sat with my family. This nice distraction was an answered prayer.

Even if the answer to all of these prayers were “no” God is still good, and he has a plan for our lives that is so magnificent we can’t even begin to describe it. Thanks all. XoXo



  1. Hi Amy, My name is Danielle. My mom is Claudia Reali and is good friends with Melissa. I am not sure if you remember her or I. My husband and I live in Austin, TX now. My husband has a kidney disease and in need of a transplant. He spoke to your mom once a few years ago when he was first diagnosed. I just went through the testing yesterday (on the 4th) in San Antonio. I will find out next week if I can be Matt’s donor. I loved reading your blog. Thanks so much for sharing. I am so glad to hear you and your mom are doing so well. I would love to hear updates. If you don’t mind…I will send a FB friend request. Would be nice to know someone else who has been through the process. Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Hey Danielle!

      Please send me a Facebook request and I’ll private message you my cell phone number. I’d love to chat and help answer any questions you might have. What a great thing to do for your husband!


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