A Win-Win Situation
I still remember the first time that I realized how serious Joyce’s condition was and that she was dealing with a condition that could only be taken care of by medication for a couple of more years. After that, dialysis or a kidney transplant would be necessary in order for her to have a full and productive life. It was a shock to realize that a woman who appeared so healthy and vital was in this predicament.
As strange as it sounds, I knew right then that I would be the one who would donate that much needed kidney. As someone who has absolutely no “woman’s intuition”, I found myself feeling very sure that the day would come when we would be going to surgery together.
Time passed and Joyce began dialysis, but it was obvious from the beginning that it was very difficult for her. My husband, David, and I found out through her daughter how to go about checking into the possibility of becoming donors.
In February of 2000, we had blood tests and the results were sent to the Ohio State University Medical Center. From the start, David was not a compatible donor. However, my blood type was compatible, so I continued testing.
Since Joyce lives in Delaware, Ohio and I live in Shelby Township, Michigan, I did most of the preliminary testing in Michigan. I would talk to the staff at the Medical Center in Ohio, and each time they asked if I had informed my employer about my decision. My answer was always “Not yet”. I wanted to make certain that this was really going to happen before I took that step.
In June of 2000, I received a call from the Medical Center Transplantation Office indicating that all tests up to this point had been very positive as far as compatibility, and I would need to come to the Medical Center during the first week in August for a full day of tests – both physical and psychological to ensure that donation was a viable option for both of us.
At this point, I felt that it was necessary to inform my employer, so I simply headed into his office and let it all out. His reaction was more than I could have expected. He told me that he was completely supportive and whatever I needed to do, they would make arrangements within the office to see that I could be accommodated. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
In August we started some serious testing. They did everything from blood tests to MRI’s. Joyce called me soon after to let me know that we matched in five out of six antigens. Since you only need to match one antigen, it was obvious this was meant to be.
As things began to take shape, my husband and son began to have doubts. It was especially obvious when I had a spike on a glucose tolerance test. It didn’t help that my family doctor was completely against it, going so far as to say that he would never allow his wife to do this. Since I felt so strongly that God intended for me to help Joyce, my family and I had some long talks, and we finally all agreed that I needed to do this.
Surgery was performed in late October. I have to admit that on the ride to Ohio I was a little apprehensive. I had butterflies in my stomach, and I could tell that Dave was tense.
We checked into the hospital, and Joyce was already there. While we were talking, the doctor came in, and Dave started asking all kinds of questions. It didn’t occur to me until later that while I was getting sound medical advice from doctors at the University, Dave was getting all of his information from me. There was a noticeable difference in his outlook after his conversation with the surgeon.
The surgeon then examined me again and decided that they would try laproscopic surgery. Prior to that day, they said that was not a feasible option because I had previous surgeries and scar tissue might interfere. Now I was told that they would try the laproscopic surgery, and if it didn’t work, they could proceed immediately with the original plan. This was great news, because it meant a shorter recovery period.
Surgery went uneventfully. I remember waking up to see two doctors standing over me. I was told that everything went well. They had been able to do the laproscopic sugery, and Joyce was sound asleep across the room. I asked if she was all right, and one doctor replied “Let me put it this way, she’s peeing like a horse.” I knew it was well worth it.
Both Joyce and I went through a few bad days, but each day would be better than the last. I left the hospital first, and I think we were both amazed at the results. We hit a couple of bumps in the road following surgery – I had a week’s stay in the hospital a couple of weeks following surgery for a bowel obstruction; Joyce had a much more serious bout with a virus. While she was seriously ill was the only time through the entire process that I had any doubts.
After her recovery, and seeing what a difference the kidney donation has made in her life, I would encourage anyone who is thinking of the possibility of donating to seriously look into it. It changed my life minimally (I have to drink a lot more water, and I need to have a creatin test once a year). However, it has changed her life dramatically, and I thank God that I was a part of that.
It’s impossible to tell people the feeling of making such a difference in someone’s life. My life goes on as it did before, but I know that her life is much fuller because her health has improved to such an extent that she is once again able to travel and do things that she was unable to do prior to the surgery. I would urge anyone who has someone they love in need of donation to seriously consider it. Donation is really a win-win situation, both for the recipient and for the donor.
Also read Joyce’s story, “My Hero, Jan”