Turns out, I had a spare!
Being an organ donor has always been important to me – even as a child I knew I wanted to give the Gift of Life. As my youngest child was getting ready to turn 18 and I approached 40, it felt like the right time to see if I would be a suitable living kidney donor. As long as I was healthy and could greatly improve or even save someone else’s life with a donation, there was no reason not to do it!
When I told my family and friends of my intentions, I was met with support. My family, friends and coworkers all wanted to make sure that my health was top priority, but they were very supportive, proud and accommodating of my decision.
And so my journey began…
Through a website I saw a picture of a young man, Quentin, who lived in Columbus and had the most radiant smile I had ever seen. Quentin was a devoted uncle and a fun loving brother and son. His passion was the theatre so much so that he founded and grew “State of the Arts Productions” in hopes of making the theater available to everyone.
Quentin had Alport Syndrome, a genetic disorder that damages the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys. He was lucky and received the Gift of Life thirteen years prior to me reaching out. Ten years after his transplant, his transplanted kidney failed and he moved back to Ohio to begin his wait once again on the national transplant list.
Quentin was a difficult match due to his medical history, and to nobody’s surprise, we didn’t match. I decided to try to give him a better chance of finding a match by being his paired donor and donating to someone else if it meant Quentin would receive his gift too from another donor. In March 2014 I promised him that I wasn’t going anywhere and I was in it for the long haul.
Sadly, four months later, Quentin passed away from complications of a dialysis catheter replacement. Though we texted back and forth regularly, I wasn’t able to meet him in person. I have since met his family, and now know why Quentin was such a loving, positive beacon of light.
After he passed, I decided to make good on my promise by donating in his honor; it was because of him that others would receive life.
I called the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and asked them to look for a new match for me, one that would help as many people as possible. By the end of July, a six-person chain was created and a transplant date was scheduled. By the time surgery rolled around, we lost one pair due to antibody development, so it ended up being two donors and two recipients. The surgery took place exactly two months after Quentin passed.
The surgery went great! I was able to walk the day after, and four days post-operation I only needed regular Tylenol to manage pain. In a mere three weeks I was back to work. To compare it to something others can relate to, getting my wisdom teeth removed was much more painful!
There is no part of me that has ever regretted my donation. When people find out that I am an altruistic kidney donor, the usual response is, “Wow, why?” and my answer is, “It turns out, I had a spare!” And if I had more spares, I would donate them! It seems such a small gesture compared to what it gives the recipients. You too could do something big, something selfless for someone else. Register as donor by saying “yes” at the BMV or clicking here to register online.