Today, I Wore Pants.

Today, in honor of being two weeks out from donation, I wore pants. Real pants – jeans with a zipper and a button. My pants-wearing party may have lasted only ten minutes, but I did it none the less!  You have to celebrate the little things, because it is easy to get frustrated. Your mind is willing but your body is just too tired. I would imagine that any woman that has had a C-Section can relate, that incision is just in a weird spot and it rubs on everything and feels strange. It is numb, yet tingly – void of all sensation, but still painful. I’ll stick to sweats and loose skirts for a bit longer.

Wearing pants is one of many milestones my family and I have celebrated in the last two weeks. Sneezing and side-sleeping have been two other milestones we have been pretty excited about as well the last few days. It’s amazing to look back on the last two weeks and think how far we’ve come. At first it was a chore to just get up off the couch, then we graduated to having the core strength to open and close the sliding glass door, then just stretching out our arms and legs without grunting in pain. We have come a long way. I’m amazed by the human body. I am amazed by modern medicine. I am so thankful to live in a place where this type of surgery is commonplace and encouraged. We are truly blessed.

Living Kidney DonorThis week I had my follow up appointments at the hospital. They checked my kidney (singular- 😉 ) function, blood pressure, and completed a urine analysis. I met with Dr. Andrews (the Urologist that did my surgery), Dr. Chakkera (a Nephrologist), a social worker, and my transplant coordinator. I’m happy to say I passed their tests with flying colors! In order to test kidney function, doctors measure your creatinine, which is a chemical waste product that’s produced in your muscles. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from your blood and expels the waste through your urine. If your kidneys aren’t functioning properly, an increased level of creatinine may accumulate in your blood.

Before the kidney transplant, my creatinine levels were at a .7, which is really good. I think a normal range is between .6 and 1.1.   After the transplant, my creatinine levels went up to 1.4 (day after surgery) but then the the remaining kidney has to kick in to overdrive, called hyper filtration, to compensate for the removed kidney. Although my creatinine levels will never go back down to a .7, my remaining kidney is doing great to filter my blood within a normal range. The doctors are very pleased with this number. My mom’s creatinine was a 3 when she was in complete kidney failure before the transplant.

I continue to be easily fatigued. By the time I get ready to go somewhere I am often too tired to go. This will get better with time. My body is getting used to working with one kidney, let alone returning to a normal level of activity. I have been most frustrated with this portion of recovery because I worked really hard to get into good shape for this surgery. My mind thinks that I am still in good shape but my body just can’t keep up. Even just sitting in the waiting room is exhausting, because our core muscles are so weak. They keep saying after three weeks, that will be the turning point.

I have mentioned how exhausting and difficult kidney dialysis has been for my mom. It is not only exhausting but just does not work as well as a real kidney.  I learned an interesting fact; Dialysis only filters your blood at 13% what a normal kidney could do. Dialysis, although considered by insurance companies to be a sustainable and long-term solution, is really just a treatment, not a cure for the problem.

My mom is doing well too. She is more sore than I am because her incision was not laparoscopic and she has staples holding her incision together instead of surgical tape like I have. Her surgery was more invasive although I would guess she is healing faster than most would in her situation. She always has a great attitude despite her circumstances which I am sure helps her healing process. My mom wouldn’t admit it, but she is kind of a legend at the hospital. Numerous times I would run into a doctor that would say, “Oh, you’re Sharon Thomas’ daughter. She is an amazing woman.” Even the interns that were in the room during one of my appointments nodded their head in agreement as the doctor told me how tough my mom is and has been. This all is true.

We still have tons of people around the country praying for us which helps immensely. Please continue to pray for her specifically as they are constantly adjusting her medications to keep her different levels stable. She has had no signs of rejection and her kidney function is doing great. We both need to be better about drinking LOTS of water. My mom has to drink a gallon each day! We probably all should drink much more than we do.

The social worker tasked with evaluating how I am coping with the donation emotionaly asked me “If you could do this all over again, would you still make the choice to donate?” and without hesitation I said “Yes!” It has been much easier than I thought it would be. Granted, it was painful and tough, but the reward was well worth it. I have quickly forgotten the pain but the benefit is well worth it.

I’m excited to see the second week of our recovery come and go so we can start to feel better. I’m excited to see what healthy and happy new adventures this kidney holds for my mom! Thanks for sharing with us in this process.

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Pain, Pain…Go Away.

It was a long weekend. My mom has always said that the third day after surgery is always the worst and Friday certainly was the hardest day.

I got out of the hospital on Wednesday morning (the day after my surgery). I was amazed at how quickly they discharged me. I learned this is because you heal better when you are at home and comfortable and there is less opportunity for infection when you are isolated at home.

photo 1The entire time I was in the hospital I avoided even moving my legs to avoid moving the muscles in my abdomen out of fear it would hurt (and it did hurt my muscles for the first few days). I tried to get out of bed twice on Wednesday morning with no luck. The first time, my night nurse encouraged me to try to get out of bed to get my weight, and to just stand next to the bed on the scale. I got both of my feet off the side of the bed but it hurt my incisions and stomach muscles hurt too much to lean forward and put my weight above my feet. I told my wonderful nurse, Eric, that I couldn’t do it and painfully laid back down, defeated. He encouraged me that the next time would be better. A few hours later, after the shift change, my new nurse came in to tell me that I was ready to go home, I just needed to get up to walk to the bathroom. They had recently pumped a bunch of fluids into my body to keep me hydrated, but since they were getting ready to take the catheter out they put a diuretic, Lasix, through my IV to get the extra fluid out of my body. This time around I made it to my feet but felt very lightheaded and had to sit down. My nurse didn’t let me get discouraged because a side effect of the Lasix is being lightheaded.  I sat back down and ate my breakfast and drank a pitcher of water, a cup of juice, and a cup of milk. That took care of me being lightheaded.

By 9 AM they had my discharge papers in order and just had to take my catheter and IV’s out. Me, being the anxious person that I am, had a wave of nausea as soon as they told me they were there to take my catheter out (it’s never easy is it!?). They gave me more pain medicine and nausea medicine and waited for it to kick in. I was honest with my nurse about being anxious about the removal of the catheter and she told me not to be, that it is very easy to remove and won’t hurt a bit. She was right. A quick five minutes later I was done and they were taking out my IV’s.

Bruises from my IV

Before surgery they started one IV (they had given me a shot of novocaine then inserted the IV with no pain whatsoever). When I woke up from surgery, I also had another IV on my other arm (with multiple marks from failed attempts and a blown out vein. The last thing I remember before going under was a doctor at my head explaining to someone how to do something, maybe how to put in an IV? Oh well, at least I wasn’t awake.  My arm is still black and blue; I told my sister the other day I wondered if people thought I was on drugs because of it. Anyways, they took my IVs out and had me ready to be discharged by early afternoon.

My sister came to pick me up and took me home. I kept having moments where I thought to myself, “I only have one kidney!” I felt like I wanted guidance on what I should be eating or if I can have a cup of coffee. Everyone kept reassuring me that I am still a normal, healthy individual and I have no restrictions. I do have to drink a TON of water. My mom and I have drinking contests to make sure we drink our eight servings out of our 16 oz. cups. That’s a lot of water, especially for someone that has never liked to drink anything and my mom who has been on a restricted liquids diet for like ten years.

Initially I was surprised that my incisions didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would. Then it got worse, then better again. Immediately after surgery I was overwhelmed with not knowing what was a ‘normal’ or ‘okay’ amount of pain. I kept asking for pain medicine until I finally got an explanation for the types of pain itself and then the means that I should take to relieve or just get through the pain. There are multiple types of pain that a donor will experience. This is what I experienced:

  • ScarsSurgery Incisions – during the beginning of my recovery I thought I was having menstrual cramps but I later discovered that the pain from the kidney feels like the worst menstrual cramps you have ever had, but slightly below your ribcage (for the donor). My mom and I both had a similar pain. At times I also felt like I had a badly pulled muscle in my side. I think it was just sore from using secondary muscles while the others are healing. It is also painful at times to breathe in deeply. I am still working on this because it feels like my lungs can’t fully expand. The laparoscopic incisions themselves no longer hurt. My dog did step on my stomach on the side of my incisions on day two and that brought me to tears, but aside from that they have not hurt very much.  I have three laparoscopic incisions to the left of my belly button and the main incision is low on my hips, three inches wide and very similar to a c-section scar. I have internal stitches that will dissolve on their own and steri-strips over all four cuts.  I was surprised the laparoscopic incisions were on the front on my body – I thought they were going to be more on the side. The laparoscopic holes were for the camera, a surgical tool, and a tube to inject gas into my body cavity. I still am unable to swivel all the way to my sides and still have to use my upper body to get out of bed. I wish I had done more arm workouts and pushups to prepare for the surgery. 😉 I have made some progress here, after four days I could laugh without it hurting, I could push the footrest down on a recliner after five days, and I am starting to be able to use some of my core muscles to assist myself when I try to get up out of bed but I still use a lot of my arm strength.
  • Gas from Surgery – during the surgery the doctors pumped some kind of gas into my torso to make room to move around and get my kidney out. The gas eventually dissipates out of your bloodstream and bowels but in the meantime it causes a lot of pain, especially in your shoulders. My coordinator told me that this is especially worse in people who are fit and have tighter muscle mass. It felt like charlie horses in both of my shoulders and under my shoulder blades. The best thing to do for this was to drink water and walk to try to help the gas dissipate faster. I am still having some of this pain six days out from surgery but it is definitely less and less. This was brutal but I have been taking Gas-X to relieve the pressure as it travels out of my body (I am unsure if this is actually medically helping the gas or if it is in my head).
  • Constipation – This kind of speaks for itself, but I was constipated for more than 4 days form taking pain medication. This was probably the worst part of my pain because I couldn’t do anything to fix it, because what I was doing wasn’t working. I took a stool softener twice a day (prescribed), servings of fiber like a Metamucil, prunes, and what ended up working the best was over the counter Miralax. I took seven doses (17 grams mixed with 8 oz. of water) on the hour, every hour, which isn’t bad because it is completely tasteless. I still went overnight without a BM. I started again the next morning and took 2 more doses before having success. I would recommend being serious about taking something from the beginning to not get stopped up. I felt infinitely better once I had a bowel movement.
  • Hormonal –  I found out that for both men and women who are living kidney donors, they have significant hormonal changes after the surgery because of the gas they use to fill up your body cavity. In women, it moves your ovary around so it often brings on your menstrual cycle either immediately or just earlier than normal. Lucky me, I got it on day 4 after surgery. In men, there is some side effect that causes temporary swelling in the left testicle which I guess, is pretty painful. I think women definitely have it better in this situation, but it has been brutal to have to deal with your cycle among all the other issues going on during recovery.
  • Emotional – fear, anger, and sadness are normal feelings. I had a breakdown on Sunday because my mom was having some bladder and catheter issues and had to go to the emergency room to have a new one put it (because it was a weekend, not necessarily because it was an emergency). I found myself being very emotional and scared and angry wondering if we went through all of this for nothing. I wish they had warned us ahead of time that there would be procedures that my mom would need to get her bladder up to speed since it is like a muscle that hasn’t been used in years. I thought if we woke up and everything was working that we would be in good shape. It scared me that my mom might have a great kidney but her bladder was struggling to keep up. My mom is okay now that she has a new catheter that will stay in for two weeks to strengthen her bladder. I just had to acknowledge my feelings and have a good cry.

Once I could identify what kind of pain I was having and what I could do to relieve it, much of my anxieties went away. Most of the time I just wanted to know what I was experiencing was normal. I didn’t expect to wake up from surgery feeling like nothing was wrong. I just wanted to understand what I should tolerate and what I should take a pill to help me to tolerate since I had never had a similar experience to relate the pain to.

Huxley

In addition to all of my pain management woes, my wonderful sister went home on Sunday. She was so helpful in taking care of my mom and I both. I think after years of helping to take care of loved ones you know what they need without ever having to ask. She always had my water and pain pills ready for me just when I needed it and still remembered to take me out for a walk and hounded me in just the right way to drink my water. I love her for taking care of us so well. As she was leaving us, my Aunt Kris came in from California to help us. My dad is on spring break this week also so he is around to take care of us too. We have wonderful family and friends (and dogs) to take care of us and spoil us with texts, prayers, visits, and calls just when we need it.

We are slowly getting better every day! Today has been a great day for my mom and I. She has had doctor’s appointments every day since the transplant. I just sit back and wait to heal. My first follow up appointment is two weeks after the surgery. As I sit and edit this, I have not had pain medicine in 16 hours. My prayers have been answered that we are healing properly and the pain is becoming less and less. With that being said, I will probably take a pain pill tonight to go to bed. It’s good for healing to not be hurting. Sometimes you don’t know how bad the pain was until it leaves you.

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

A Journey 60 Years in the Making

I wrote this Monday but didn’t get around to posting it…

Today is my birthday! And if that isn’t great enough, tomorrow is our transplant. I have to admit that I am excited for the surgery, mostly so that it is over. I’m ready to stop being anxious and start getting better.

I thought I would post today about what I feel is the most moving part of this transplant story. It happened when I was considering writing this blog. I was doing some research for this blog when I came across the story of the first ever successful kidney transplant. I actually found a picture on Pinterest of all places (Google Images is quite intimidating when you are typing in surgical search terms – so I try to avoid it) of the set of identical twins who were the first successful living kidney donor and recipient. The amazing thing is their surgery date was March 4, 1954-exactly sixty years to the date of my mom and my transplant. The random date I picked to coincide with my dads work schedule turns out to be the day God has planned for us all along. We call that a “God wink” in our family because it seems so good and is so reassuring that it must be from God.

I have faith in this surgery going well and I am calm. I am so calm that I have the peace that surpasses all understanding. That’s a God thing.

We had a wonderful weekend with out family, going to brunch, The Desert Botanical Gardens, a Diamondback Spring Training game (they lost), and dinner and a movie. We are all hanging in there and trying to keep our minds occupied until tomorrow.

I’ll keep you posted about the surgery tomorrow!

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Testing…1,2,3.

I’ve always done really well on standardized tests. When I started the process of getting tested to donate my kidney I had no idea what was involved. I did know early on that there would be tests…and lots of them. I started the process in February of 2013. The testing process did not take a full year. The hold up in the process was really the fact that my mom had to get tested, then wait, then get retested for various issues to make sure she is healthy enough to endure a transplant.

Waiting in LineI have been continuously impressed with Mayo Clinic, which is where all of my testing occurred and where the transplant will take place. The first time I went, I literally described it as Disneyland, but with needles and not rides at the end of the line. You get an itinerary in the mail that tells you which campus to show up to, what building, and what floor to check into. You go through a twisting and turning path that eventually leads to the receptionist, whom you give your fast pass – your Clinic Number. This lets them check you in for all your appointments for the day and lets the doctors know you are there. If you get really lucky you can zip through the turnstiles with no wait. I sometimes felt like I was cheating because I always got the first appointment of the day and it seemed like I often got to cut people in line waiting for a blood draw. To say the least, it is very well organized and I liked that it felt like a game to be played.

The evaluation process for a living kidney donor is not only enduring a comprehensive medical evaluation, but it is also psychological and educational in nature.  They want to make sure you are medically healthy, have good kidney function, and have low surgical risk. I am very impressed with the thoroughness of the process. For me, my evaluation process included:

  • Kidney ScanBlood work – evaluate current functions of organs, blood counts, and prior exposure to viruses. Also blood typing.
  • Urine Tests – check kidney function and looking for bacteria or blood in the urine.
  • Chest X-Ray – determine any problems with lungs that would be problematic during surgery.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) – to evaluate the heart rhythm and rate.
  • Routine pap smear – checking for other health issues that would prevent you from being a donor.
  • Iothalamate Testing – The weirdest test you will ever do, it literally feels like you wet your pants but you don’t. It essentially is a dye that they inject into your veins and they take a scan to see how well your kidneys process the dye out,  I think it also shows the anatomy of your urology system.
  • Urology Test – They put dye in your system, make you urinate, then wait an hour, make you urinate, then wait another hour and make you urinate to see how well your kidney processes the dye.
  • HIV Testing – screening for specific viruses.
  • CT Angio-Urogram-determine if the anatomy of the donor kidney will match up with the recipient.
  • Genetic Testing-This was additional testing they had ordered when they found out about the family history we have with PPH/PAH. If I did have the gene for the disease they would have not allowed me to be a donor because it would no longer be in my best interest to donate.
  • Crossmatch – blood typing and ross matching to determine if my antibodies will match with my moms.

The educational component of the evaluation included a psychological computerized test, meeting with a psychologist, required reading , and various meetings with donor advocates to ensure that I understand the process and the recovery time. The thing that I found very cool is that I have a team of doctors, nurses, advocates, and social workers that are fighting for what is in my best interests, as well as my mom has her own independent team doing the same. They met weekly to discuss our test results and whether or not we should continue with testing. Only if our goals align will the transplant happen. I think it would be a pretty noble profession to be involved in this kind of work.

A lot of people have asked me about how my life has to change after the surgery. Since it has been a year since my educational class, I actually had to look it up. I’m supposed to take Tylenol or aspirin instead of ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. I’m supposed to stay hydrated with caffeine and alcohol in moderation. I don’t have any dietary restrictions, although they recommend a “heart-healthy” diet which they probably recommend to every American. I also thought there was some kind of warning against too much protein, but I can’t find that in my paperwork. There are also long-term health check ups in 6 months, a year, and two years, and then I am supposed to regularly go to my general physician.

Overall, the testing could be completed in a few FULL days. It’s great to know that I am a picture of health and, according to my most recent blood work to cross check my blood with my mom’s, we are “a perfect match.” Thirty-two hours and counting until surgery.

Statistically Speaking…

As of today, there are 121,366 people waiting for organ transplants in the U.S. Each day, 79 people receive an organ from a donor (living and deceased) while 18 more die each day. There is a major shortage of organs and this is totally preventable.

Some people are waiting for more than just good coffee.

“Some people are waiting for more than just good coffee.”

One person can save up to eight lives by choosing to be an organ donor upon their passing. Plus, they can greatly improve the lives of others through cornea and tissue donation.

Anyone, regardless of age, race, medical conditions can sign up to be an organ donor. Almost all major religions are supportive of donation. There are no costs to your family for you to become a donor.

Being an organ donor will not alter the course of treatment you will receive if you find yourself in need of emergency care – there are two completely different teams that would first treat you for your injuries and secondarily procure your organs after you are declared brain dead. It is a complete fallacy that you will be allowed to die for your organs.

There are also a number of organs that can be donated by a living donor to a family or friend in need such as a kidney, segment of a liver, lobe of a lung, and a portion of an intestine or pancreas.

Organ donation has been something that is very close to my heart since I was a child because of my family’s experience with transplants. Sign up to be an organ donor today and become someone’s hero!

Sources: unos.orgorgandonor.gov

My Decision to Donate

Over a year ago I began the journey of exploring the option of giving a kidney to my mom. My mom has been waiting for a kidney transplant for years but her actual time on the transplant list has not added up to much due to chronic health complications attributed to her suppressed immune system. The average person will wait three to five years to receive a kidney transplant but that has to be time where the recipient is 100% healthy and ready to receive an organ. This has proven to be a challenging feat for my mom who is a repeat transplant (you can read more about her experience here).

After much introspection and praying about the right decision I just came to the conclusion that giving my kidney is what feels right. There are a number of times where I was thinking about donation and something came on the radio talking about organ donation, or a sermon at church where someone shared their story of how they gave their kidney because of their faithfulness in God, or a random organ donation license plate that reassured me that it was the right thing to do. The doctor that I  met with a year ago to get more information on the transplant process is the actual doctor that will be performing my surgery. It’s the little things that reassure me, and remind me that every little detail of my life is perfectly stitched together by the mighty hand of God.

With all of that being said, it is still scary and there are times where I have had my doubts if this is what is right for me. After I was cleared for surgery I waited almost three months to set a date because it all hit me at once. I needed some time to process everything. I understand that this is a major surgery and there are real risks associated with not only going under anesthesia but also of living with only one kidney. I will wake up with half of my renal anatomy. I joke that it’s an extreme way to lose a quarter pound! Ultimately, it is what is best for my mom and my family. We all deserve a chance at a normal life. 

WHY ORGAN, EYE, AND TISSUE DONATION?

  •  121,366 people are waiting for an organ
  •  18 people will die each day waiting for an organ
  •  1 organ donor can save up to 8 lives

I will be a living kidney donor on the  on March 4, 2014. I have also made the decision to donate my organs, eyes, and tissues upon my death to help additional families. I hope you will consider talking to your family more about your wishes.