A Donors Story: “Today I donated my kidney”

To celebrate three months post surgery I have put together a special series of posts. Ready to hear what it’s like to donate a kidney? Our author is Leah,  the amazing girl who donated her kidney to a stranger- so that I would receive a kidney from someone else. Have a read of her first days in hospital.  Stay tuned for the rest of her story then FOLLOWING is my four days post-surgery. Thanks for sharing your ‘donor story’ Leah!

– Denny 


 

PART ONE: The First Two days in Hospital

Prep Day: 23rd July 2017

The day before the surgery was a day of waiting and more waiting. I think it would have to be the longest day of my life, and the day that everything became pretty real. I was shown to my room and given my hospital bracelet and a few final forms to sign my kidney away and let the doctors know who I wanted them to call after the surgery. It was a really weird feeling lying in a hospital bed in my comfy track pants and hoody and be completely healthy and well. Both Denny and I were pretty much left to our own thing for most of the day so we watched some TV, tried to nap, wandered around the hospital, and tried to eat some dinner before we had to be nil by mouth. My nurse told me I had to drink two litres of water that night so I was constantly in the bathroom peeing through the night. I didn’t get much sleep anyway which wasn’t a surprise.

 

Transplant day: 24th July 2017

As the sun came into my room I remembered I wasn’t in my own bed and saw that I had about an hour until I was going to be taken to theatre. The team came to prep me and eventually take me to pre-op. Denny and I said our goodbyes and wished each other well. Again, it was really strange to be in pre-op around all these sick people who were all looking at this young healthy looking me and probably wondering what my surgery was for. Throughout the whole process I never really felt nervous and even waiting in pre-op I was more excited than anything. I met the nurse who was going to fly with my kidney on a commercial flight to Wellington. I was taken into theatre and chatted away to the lovely team of theatre nurses while they tried to get my lines in. 30 minutes, 2 bruised arms, a lot of blood, and an ultrasound later they finally had me all hooked up and ready to go. I didn’t even see the surgeon come into theatre. The last thing I remember I was chatting away, and then I guess the team worked their magic to remove my left kidney and do as little damage to me as possible.

I remember in one of the many lead up appointments one of the surgeons said to me that he found it more nerve-wrecking operating on kidney donors than recipients, because their rule is to ‘do no harm’, which isn’t really true when you take an organ out of someone that didn’t need to lose it.

One thing I really regret is not asking one of the nurses if they could take a photo of me kidney for me. It’s not everyday you get to see what your insides look like and I think a photo of my kidney would have finished off this post quite well haha.

 

Leah post transplant

The surgery took two and a half hours. The first thing I remember was being half asleep in post-op and trying to take the mask off my face. There were a few people hovering over me telling me to stop touching it. Then I must have went out again because the next thing I remember I was by myself trying to talk because I was in quite a lot of pain and felt really uncomfortable. One of the nurses came over and welcomed me back to planet earth. I spent about an hour in post-op waiting for someone to take me back to my ward. They told me that my nice big room to myself had been taken and I would now be sharing a room with three other ladies. That’s ok I thought, it would be nice to have some neighbours for the next few days.

So off I go back to the ward where I found some visitors and lots of chocolates, cards and flowers. I think I dozed for the next few hours while they tried to get my pain under control. I soon realised if I lay completely still then the pain wasn’t too excruciating. The funny thing is the worst pain was actually in my left shoulder, probably from the gas they use in the surgery they said. The day went by pretty slowly as I waited to hear how Denny was doing.

 

“I sat there patiently waiting … I can’t believe it, did I just donate my kidney?”