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My Organ Donation Journey – Chapter 5

It takes a village

The worst is behind me. My kidney donation is complete and I am on the mend.

On Thursday, July 26—just 16 days following my surgery—I received a clean bill of health from my doctor, Dr. Bhati. In fact, he even gave me permission to run a little—nearly four weeks earlier than anticipated—with the caveat that I have to take it slowly. Since slow is the ONLY way I can run, I was happy to comply.

I have come to the realization that recovery is a team sport. I never could have done it alone.

My journey has included many friends, from all walks of life. I received cards, prayers, well wishes, food, flowers, visits, calls, emails, texts, presents, and offers to help in a million ways from people I know through:

  • Work including co-working, clients and business partners from the present and past
  • My YAYAs, with a special shout out to Jeanne Walls who spent two days in the hospital with me
  • Running, especially my prayer warriors, Ellie, Robin, Maya and Julia who were with me throughout the screening process
  • High school, college, grad school friends (let’s hear it for social media!)
  • E.W., a wonderful women’s professional group
  • My volunteer work at VTCC
  • Teaching colleagues at VCU
  • Neighbors
  • My professional society (SHSMD)
  • And of course, my family and family-by-choice

I feel very fortunate to have been a patient at VCU Health. The team members at the Hume-Lee Transplant Center, in both the outpatient clinic and the inpatient unit, are incredible.

Sue, Allison, Mary

The care I received was professional, caring and attentive from EVERYONE—with an amazing degree of consistency. Nurses, care partners, doctors, medical students, phlebotomists, food service workers and environmental services workers all exude the same competent, kind and respectful attitude.

I have requested a complete list of names so I can nominate the entire group for a service excellence award. I am grateful to each and every one of them and I would not want to overlook a single person. Each one contributed to my care in a significant way.

For many years, I have worked in the healthcare marketing field. But I have never been a patient in a hospital—other than delivering a baby 34 years ago, and that doesn’t count. By being on the other side of the bed rails, I learned some valuable lessons about the “patient experience.”

Being in the hospital is a scary thing—even for someone who has a deep understanding of the healthcare world. I experienced an overwhelming sense of vulnerability. It was shocking, especially for someone like me who is fairly brassy and gutsy in my normal life.

I genuinely wonder how elderly and really sick patients, who do not have an advocate to watch out for them, manage when hospitalized. Perhaps health systems should have personnel—paid or volunteer—whose jobs are dedicating the visiting patients who are alone—soothing them and attending to their non-medical needs. (I believe I will inquire about that.)

Tomorrow I will be heading back to work and getting on with my life—filled with love for my wonderful circle of family and friends who have shared this journey with me and grateful for the opportunity to pay my gift of good health forward.

And, guess what? The journey isn’t quite over. The last chapters will be about my recipient. I have not had the opportunity to meet her yet. All I know is that my kidney now resides in a 59-year-old female. And I can’t wait to get to know her!!

Until then…hugs to all.

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