February 2, 2017 I donated my spare kidney to my cousin .
I decided to become a donor because my cousin needed it, and I had It to give! I won't lie and say I questioned myself from time to time, but I put my trust in the hands of the doctors and the fact that my cousin had a 6% chance of finding a donor, and I was a match!
I did a lot of online research. The transplant team and donor advocates at Dartmouth Hitchcock were AMAZING! Full of information and so much help!!
All medical expenses were paid for by the recipients insurance. I was also informed of a grant program that paid for all travel expenses, it paid for our gas, food and lodging. It paid for my husbands food and lodging while I was in the hospital as it was a 3 hour drive from where we live. This grant program will cover gas food and lodging for all visits needed for 2 years of follow ups. I am 100% self employed. I am a hairstylist and also a LulaRoe retailer. After surgery, I was back working my LulaRoe business 9 days after surgery! I did not return to the salon for 5 weeks. My husband was a wonderful support and I'm not sure what I would have done without him, and our children, ages 19, 17 and 10 .
Test after test was done as far as the process of becoming a donor. The hospital was diligent in ensuring that I was 100% healthy and able to donate with no complications.
They assured me that the testing would determine that to the best of their knowledge, my remaining kidney would be "as healthy at age 80 as it was at that time. "
I had all annual routine testing done at my regular doctors offices, and then traveled a few times to Dartmouth Hitchcock for the remaining tests. EKG's, chest X-rays, kidney function testing to make sure both of my kidneys worked equally well. cat scans , MRI's blood work , and more blood work, 24 hour urine samples. They really give you a complete work up!
Most people were shocked and in awe at my decision! It was a very humbling experience. My husband, parents and brother were beaming with pride I don't think I came across many people that were negative. And those that were, in my opinion, just didn't understand. My family and friends admired my courage, my kids said that it was " cool ". I had an amazing support system throughout my entire journey!
Words of encouragement and advice for someone thinking about becoming a living donor ? Do it if you can and you're willing. It was the most rewarding experience, aside from having my children. I do not feel any different, I don't feel an absence of a kidney, recovery was not bad at all! We went to transplant on a Thursday morning and I went home on Sunday.
I didn't take any pain medications after leaving the hospital (although I was sent home with them ). I just didn't have pain that was that severe . Discomfort yes, and no I wasn't running marathons but that's to be expected after surgery. I am as healthy today as I was the day before surgery. Nothing in my life has changed a bit, but my cousin, she gets to live to see her children grow up and that's a pretty cool thing.
Being a kidney donor has not physically changed my life. I feel no different. I have no limitations. I do have a great sense of pride that I carry, but for the most part, it was a very humbling experience. I am not one for people patting me on the back, but man, I sure did get patted on the back a lot, and still do. But to me, I just did it because i could and because someone was in need . I would absolutely 110%, do it again if I could, and I will ALWAYS advocate for living donation! The experience was just all around amazing !!!
Location: Peru, NY