Wednesday, June 27th by Lisa
As promised here is the rest of the kidney story.
After Mark was put on the transplant list we started thinking about people who might donate a kidney. Wow that really is sort of mind-boggling. It’s not just something you can bring up in casual conversation. “Hey can I have one of your kidneys?” We actually did have several people tell us that they would be tested if they were needed. I can’t begin to tell you how much this meant to us.
I knew I was the same blood type so I wanted to be tested first. After the initial test to see if our blood was compatible ( it was) the doctors tested my veins to see if they would work with everything that had to be rerouted. They were fine. I then had a renal ultrasound to make sure I had two working kidneys. I did. At this point I was assigned my own nephrologist so that there would be no bias about whether or not I could donate a kidney to Mark.
There were many more tests for me. It took about two months to complete all of them. Since I was getting close to being picked as a donor Vanderbilt held off testing anyone else. Mark and I even had to have counseling about me donating. And financial counseling to determine whether we could undergo this financially especially with the immunosuppressant drugs. Fortunately our insurance was great and even covered travel expenses to and from Vanderbilt. This is after it kicked in nationally once Mark was put on the Kidney Donor List, and it was then in our network.
My tests were finished just before Christmas in 2010. All of the data then had to go before the transplant team at Vanderbilt. We were told we would hear something by the end of January. We got the news on January 24th. The doctors wanted to schedule the transplant soon so it was scheduled for February 24th.
We had a lot of work to do. We had to have a living will and a medical power of attorney because we would both be unconscious at the same time. This is the first thing you are asked for when you check into the hospital.
One of the things that you must have before you undergo something like this is an excellent support team. Mark and I had a wonderful team. Two of my sisters went to Vanderbilt with us and then stayed at a nearby hotel with us for about two weeks while we were recovering. Several of our family members came to Nashville the night before the surgery so they would be there for us first thing the morning of the surgery.
The night before the surgery Mark nor I slept at all. Of course we were nervous. The doctors at Vanderbilt did these transplants every week. We felt very confident with them. Still it was a huge undertaking. Although Mark was so grateful that I was doing this he still felt bad that I was doing this for him and told me repeatedly how grateful he was. I never had a doubt that I was doing the right thing.
I felt especially blessed to be donating a kidney to my husband. We had been married for almost twenty years and had no children. I felt like this was something I was meant to do.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. with lots of our family members with us. My surgery started at 7:00. My kidney was removed and carried to an adjoining room where Mark was prepped for his surgery. They placed the kidney in his abdomen. The kidney actually never stopped working it kicked in and Mark’s Creatinine level started to drop down closer to where it was supposed to be.
Many years ago when the first kidney transplants were done the transplanted kidney was put under the arm. When Mark and I first started going to Vanderbilt we saw a man who had just had a transplant and he was holding his stomach with a pillow. I remembered thinking why would his stomach be sore? The doctors explained that this was the best place to put the new kidney with the least complications.
Both surgeries went well and Mark and I were only in the hospital for three days. We did have to stay in Nashville in a hotel near the hospital so that Mark would be close for the Doctor appointments that he would have two or three times a week. For the first week.
My sisters took wonderful care of us and when we left Nashville we stayed with Mark’s mom for about a week because neither of us could drive or do anything at home.
Mark’s recuperation time was a little longer than mine. I was back to work within a month. My kidney was cut laparoscopic and brought through my naval. So other than being very sore for about three days my recovery wasn’t too bad. Because Mark had to have a large incision in his abdomen to place the kidney it took longer to heal.
Once we got home we had to go back to Vanderbilt every week for a month and then twice a month and then once a month. And now Mark has to return to Vanderbilt three times a year. I only see my doctor for testing once a year. Mark takes his immunosuppressant drugs and never misses a dose. I do not have to take medication I can’t even tell I have only one kidney. Our lives have gone on just as before except for a deep gratitude knowing we have been blessed. As I said we have no children so we named the kidney Baby Kay ( K for kidney) and we celebrate every year on February 24th.
This was us leaving the hospital
During our short hospital stay.
A funny story I like to tell: The Tuesday following the surgery on Thursday, Mark and I were back at Vanderbilt for Mark to get his Creatinine level checked. We were in the waiting room and I was talking to a man sitting near us. He told me he had just found out he might have to have a kidney transplant. I said “well it’s really not too bad.” He said his daughter wanted to be tested to see if she could be a donor. He told me he wouldn’t let her it was just too painful for the donor. I said “I just gave my husband a kidney on Thursday and I am fine” he looked at me in amazement and said “wow, Thursday like five days ago? maybe I will think about it then”.
Mark and I have spoken to many groups about live kidney donation and continue to be advocates for this. It is so very important. So many people die waiting for a kidney. At the very least sign your license so you may be a donor and share this request with your family. You will not regret it. Thank you!!!! If you missed part one you can read it here I Donated a Kidney to My Husband (Part 1)
Love your day your way