The following was written by one of my patients who graciously agreed to donate one of her kidneys to her brother in law for transplant. Her perspective emphasizes the many gifts given to many people through living donor kidney transplantation.
“Two years ago, this month, I donated my left kidney to my brother-in-law….I’ll call him “Bob”. Today, both Bob and I are both doing great. Bob has his health back and is again on his bicycle, sailing his boat, working on his farm, and enjoying life. Over the summer, he walked his beautiful daughter down the aisle, and next week he will be at his son’s wedding. Bob has his life back. My sister has her husband back. Bob’s children have their father back.
As for me, with the exception of a relatively short recuperation period, my physical health has not changed. I continue to run, ski, cycle, play tennis and do many other outdoor activities that inspire me. The only physical reminder I have is my scar and the little itch it sometimes brings. My spiritual life, however, has changed. I now live knowing that I truly helped to save someone else’s life. Not only that, I helped give Bob back a life he once knew… renewed energy, renewed spirit, and free of machines. If ever I question my own life and choices, I need only remind myself of the powerful gift I have given. If ever I question my ability to do something, I remind myself of this emotionally difficult undertaking. I too, am a stronger, more balanced, and happier person.
The decision whether or not to donate a kidney can certainly be a difficult one. For me, however, once I understood the severity of Bob’s illness, there was no question in my mind that I would get match tested. Somehow, even before knowing I was a blood match, I knew that I would be giving Bob one of my kidneys. There was no looking back or turning around for me…I trusted the research, I trusted the doctors, and I trusted my family who completely supported me.
The only true moment of fear for me was waking up the morning of the surgery. I was terrified. But, with my husband by my side, I got out of bed and went forward. A decision I will never regret. A decision that I hope has helped my three young children, my many friends, and those unknown to me, to understand the power and necessity of giving.”