I decided to donate one of my kidneys so that my mom could receive the best possible match for her in the quickest time possible. I was part of a kidney chain with 8 people. My kidney went to a woman in Washington, DC and my mom received a kidney from a person at Emory University Hospital.
My mom became sick in the spring of 2015. Although it is still difficult to say what exactly caused her kidneys to fail, she had the perfect storm of events occur to cause her to become septic in the ICU and in end stage renal failure.
Once my mom started doing better that summer, my triplet brother Chris and I flew with my mom to Savannah, GA where my sister just had her first child. We were visiting with relatives in nearby Hilton Head and as we got up to leave the restaurant my mom went into sudden cardiac arrest. My sister Ali, who happens to work as a nurse in the ICU, began CPR immediately. She reacted so quickly and in such a smart way that she saved my mom’s life that night. She is THE TRUE HERO.
After again recovering from all of that, my family and I learned of the option of a kidney transplant for my mom. My mom was now in end stage renal failure and a kidney transplant would be her best bet at returning to her normal, healthy life. I had such a real feeling inside of me that I knew I was going to be the one to donate. And so I got tested right away and found out I was not a good direct match. We had several offers to donate, which is incredible, but time after time it did not work out.
With the guidance and hard work of of the transplant team at Christ Hospital, my mom and I were cleared to be put into the National Kidney Registry and quickly were matched with a chain of recipients and donors.
I decided to donate because my mom deserves a happy and healthy life - one in which she can enjoy her husband, 5 children and 9 grandchildren and continue to run her own business. My mom is the most loving and selfless person so it was an easy decision. Selfishly, I want her to be in my life for as long as possible!
Current Awareness Efforts
1) I started a 'Donor Appreciation Fund' at Christ Hospital to share success stories with future donors and assist donors through the process. Over $5500 was raised this past year and my hope is to continue to raise money to go towards this fund. The first year, the funds were raised through a 'Kidney Donor Awareness' softball game. I intend on using college athletics and fitness to continue to raise awareness in the future. With these funds, Christ Hospital is working on adding more informational material on the transplant floor as well as a donor wall of pictures and recipient/donor stories.
2) I am still in contact with my transplant coordinator and she sends folks my way who are interested in donating and want to know more about the process.
I want to get loud for kidney disease and end stage renal failure because it affects so many otherwise healthy people. My mom suffered end stage renal failure after a storm of events that we did not see coming. She was not the same person while she was sick and after the transplant she has returned to her former self. It is absolutely incredible. I want to advocate for people who are in a similar situation so that they too can receive a good match for them and live a healthy and happy life!
Additionally, I want to advocate for CPR. My sister saved my mom's life. It is important that folks realize how important a basic knowledge of CPR is and that we must have easily accessible AEDs. I am the first to admit, I was frozen that night my mom went into cardiac arrest, but I don't ever want to freeze like that again. I want to bring awareness to the importance of acting quickly in those situations.
What I hope to see change:
I want the conversation around living kidney donation to improve. When others find out that I am a kidney donor or I try to bring it up in conversation, it feels as though I receive a strange look followed by silence or people tend to just change the subject. I feel as though people are afraid to talk of the unknown so it is important to educate the general public on kidney disease, end stage renal failure, living kidney donation, etc. and the life that one can have as a result of a kidney transplant from a living donor. Also, it is important for people to realize that donating a kidney may result in a tough 6-8 weeks, but in return you are able to literally give the gift of life to another human being. What is better than that? My heart is so full from this experience that it might just beat out of my chest. But the struggle comes in the lack of knowledge and awareness around this process both for the recipient and the donor. I hope to inspire others to donate and realize they can absolutely still live a healthy and active life. In fact, a person must be very healthy in order to donate so taking care of your body now means you just might have the ability to save someone's life in the future.
Location: Boston, Massachusettes