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My Organ Donation Journey - Chapter 18

Affirming my decision

Well, you know they say about the best laid plans. After leaving the hospital on Thursday, I thought that my surgery was a piece of cake. By Friday I was completely off pain meds and Saturday I was out pulling weeds in the yard. I even gave passing thought to donating a part of my liver next year. What the heck, right? My kidney was a spare. My liver will grow back. And this was easy-peasy. Right?

Not so fast.

By Monday things went off the rails. I won’t burden you with the details, but my GI system didn’t quite get the memo that surgery was over and it was time to wake up. After ten days, I ended up being readmitted to the hospital.

There is a lesson to be learned from even the worst of circumstances. Here is my take away.

For four days I was in some pretty intense discomfort. Okay, let’s call it what it was—I was in PAIN. On Saturday night, while I was lying in my hospital bed I was seriously worried. I wasn’t concerned about my health. I was in the very best place and I knew the team at VCU Health would take care of me. I was worried that I would wake up in the morning and regret my decision to donate a kidney. That I would think it was a stupid idea and I would be angry with myself for even starting down this path months ago.

But a single sound changed all that and wiped away my doubts.

In the middle of the night, while I was tossing and turning, I heard the whipping blades as the medivac helicopter landed on the roof. I recalled Maureen Bell, the transplant coordinator, telling me earlier that evening that she was calling a patient to come into the hospital the next morning for a transplant. And I knew what that sound meant. A donated organ was arriving at Hume-Lee. And in the morning, one fortunate human being’s life would be saved.

I will never forget that sound and how it reaffirmed my decision to give.

Would I trade a few days of a pain in the gut to save a life? Without a doubt. There is something very special and important happening in these walls. And I want to contribute—even if in a small way.

I’m once again home from the hospital—healthy and on the mend. The care I received at VCU Health the second time around was as stellar as the first time. I owe a special thanks to Maureen Bell, who remained with me until I was tucked in my bed, my entire care team; and most of all, my sweet friend Jeanne Walls, who stayed by my side every minute throughout this ordeal.

I’ve made the decision to hang onto my liver and not attempt a second donation. It would appear that anesthesia is not my friend.

But moving forward I will use my voice and my words to continue supporting and promoting living organ donation.

If you are thinking about donating an organ, please know that my complication was not typical or expected.  But even with that setback, I am still very happy that I chose to share my spare. Let me know if I can help you make a decision that’s right for you!



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