Sunday, June 15, 2014

A FLASHBACK TO MY KIDNEY JOURNEY

MY KIDNEY JOURNEY

In 2008, after much research on the internet, I came across an innovative way of donating an organ, a kidney swap!  My husband had kidney failure for over 20 years and was adamant about not going on dialysis.  We were doing everything possible to get him a transplant before he actually had no other choice.  I had always kidded with him that he "needed a Cuban kidney,"  but unfortunately I was not a match.  He had a few other possible donors but for various reasons, it did not work out.  I like to think it was destiny.  It was written that it would work out the way it did.

I contact the Allied Paired Donation organization and continued my research, which finally lead us to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

I always knew I would be the donor, in some way, I just never imagined it would be a kidney swap.  My decision was met with much skepticism by my family as my children were very young at the time.  I kept hearing, "what if someday your children need a kidney?"  All I can say is that instinctively, I knew I had to do this. God-willing my children would never be faced with health issues and besides, I thought, they have three older siblings who could also help if God-forbid that happened.  I also felt I needed to do this because, I could never help my mom, who died of cancer, how could I not save my husbands life.  I owed it to our children.

As the surgery date grew closer, I began to worry a little.  Not so much about me, but for my children, both their parents would be undergoing surgery simultaneously.  The hardest part for me was leaving my little ones behind as we had to travel out of state for the surgery.  Our youngest children were 2 and 6 years old at the time.  We would not be with our children for Thanksgiving. And honestly, at this point, all I wanted was for both of us to make it out of surgery safe and sound.   I had planned a "sleep-away" for my 6-year old at different homes including my dad's, and my best friend's house but she knew, she knew this wasn't all fun and games.  Years later, she would share with me just how scared she really was.

Going into surgery, we still did not know who the other couple was that we would be "swapping" with.  My husband jokingly called it, "the ultimate wife swap."

 Fast-forward to my journey.

THE FLIGHT

November 18, 2008 at 6:15pm
 The actual flight to New York City was uneventful, thank God. The only thing though, was that for the first time ever, I was actually worried. Not about me but for my husband. Right before we were about to board, he got really weak and pale and looked like he was about to pass out. I'm sure there was a lot of anxiety too but he is definitely feeling the symptoms of end stage renal failure. I am very glad we are here already and it's almost time. I tried to help him out and hold his hand and tell him to breathe as we were boarding but it really wasn't helping. For a few minutes I actually thought we might not get on the plane, which freaked me out.

Luckily, after a little while and a turkey sub and Sprite, he was starting to feel better. It was hard to be focused on him when I too was feeling so anxious. It's kind of a weird scenario because we are suppose to be supportive of each other but we each have our own anxiety and worries. It's hard for me to vent and share my feelings with him because I don't want him to feel guilty at all in anyway.


NOVEMBER 19, 2008 FEELINGS

Scared and missing my kids sooo much but ready. Scheduled to be in the hospital by 6a.m. Operation should hopefully start by about 8:30a.m. ending around 2p.m. or so. All will be well.




 


THIS IS ME MEETING MY SURGEON THE DAY BEFORE KIDNEY SURGERY                >




 This was the examining room I was in to meet my surgeon the day before surgery




NOVEMBER 20, 2008 - Operation Day

We arrived at 6:00a.m. to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.  I remember sitting in the waiting room staring at all the other people in there waiting and wondering, if one of those people was the one I would be donating to.  It was so weird, not knowing and just blindly going in, knowing that I would be giving up my organ, basically to a stranger.  Ultimately, I knew, it was for my husband but the waiting was stressful.




I took various pictures before surgery.  I even sneaked my camera in the pre-op room!  If I could have had my camera the whole time, I totally would have!







The rest is rather vague to me, I just remember waking up in my hospital bed and seeing my husband standing and walking in front of me.  Yes, he was up and about!  (The donors recovery is always that much tougher.) I also remember feeling like a whale, as I had been bumped with so much air for laparoscopic surgery.




  
That's me pumped like a whale with my husband the day AFTER surgery. 


Finally, the day after surgery, they allowed us to meet the "other couple."  They were a very nice couple that lived in New York and were in the same situation as us.  Basically, the wife donated her kidney to my husband and I donated my kidney to her husband.  "The ultimate swap!"




 It was an incredible journey and I only wish that more people would learn about organ donation and the ability to donate your organ, even if you are not an exact match!


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