One year ago, I arrived at KU Medical Systems bright and early. I had no doubts and, to be honest, I was weirdly excited. After months and months of anticipation and being afraid the surgery might not happen, it was time to get the show on the road! The following days were not quite so exciting since this was my first surgery and hospital experience ever, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
On September 25, 2019, I underwent surgery to donate a kidney to my mom.
The entire process was a rollercoaster of ups and downs, from the day I found out my mom would one day need a kidney to the weeks and months after donation. However, I never wavered in my choice to donate. I knew in my heart from day one that God meant for me to do this and I feel incredibly blessed I was able to and it went so smoothly.
Most people’s reaction to hearing about my donation is amazement. They can’t imagine doing something like this themselves and call me brave. Yes, it was brave. It’s brave to have a serious and elective surgery that technically makes you worse off than you were before you started. But what many people don’t realize is kidney donation isn’t as crazy as it seems - you can have a perfectly healthy and normal life with one kidney. You can travel, play sports, run a marathon, have kids and live a long life. Maybe just drink a little more water and skip out on hand-to-hand combat…
I started writing out my entire story and it became far too long for one blog post, so I’m going to split it up into sections, the next one being the testing process to become a kidney donor and then the actual surgery and hospital stay, then finally my recovery and where I am today. While it feels like a lot of details, I’d really love to share what exactly went into my experience (everyone’s is a little different) to remove the mystery of this process and help others realize that it’s far more accessible to be a donor than it may seem from the outside.
How did my donation story start? In February of 2018, my mom called me to tell me that she was in kidney failure and had just come back from testing at Mayo. The first thing out of my mouth: “You can have one of mine.”
The decision felt plain and simple: it was my mom! (Although my mom took a great deal of convincing). Sure, I’m a little young, sheltered, and idealistic. I had no idea what I signing up for other than the knowledge that some people can donate their kidney or liver to a loved one in need (thank you, Grey’s Anatomy). I definitely didn’t realize that people donated kidneys altruistically, meaning they don’t even know the recipient (like how you donate blood). I just knew my mom needed me and I could help. I was very, very lucky to be able to do something.
So what was the process for becoming a living donor? Stay tuned for part two…