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?”





One Month and Three Kidneys Later…

Waking up in ICU The lights were quite dim and I could only hear slight voices in the far distance, something about lungs. lungs… right lung…? slow…? collapsed…? While I sat there racking my brain, didn’t I have a kidney transplant?  What lungs, whats going on? eyes closed. Pain. More pain. I was drifting in and out of consciousness up in the highest room of the hospital, the ICU (intensive care unit) which is where all transplant patients are sent to spend their first few hours bonding with their […]

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Day of surgery: See you on the other side

24th July 2017: Flying Kidneys + My big break  So the day had finally come, nearly 10 years of dialysis, over 50 surgeries later and I was finally ready for the biggest day of my life.The entire night before I couldn’t sleep, I kept waking up and forgetting where I was and then panicking and trying to sleep some more.Saying goodbye to my old life and hello to freedom  The First Operations: 6.30am – So first my friend, Leah (my angel donor) woke up at 6.30am, and got prepped and […]

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The greatest gift and Pre-admission to Hospital

23rd July 2017: Pre-admission + the kidney chain + surprise throat infections I packed my bags, some books and a whole bunch of crap that I basically never touched anxiously waiting to get this whole thing on the road. So the real question was and will always be= who donated their kidney to me? The answer= I have no clue. It was actually a type of chain..   It involved 4 people, 2 kidneys, 2 planes and the longest day of my life (intrigued yet?!). So here is what was about […]

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Day Four: Counting down my days on dialysis

So currently sitting on a couch (that’s me ^), on what could possibly be the second to last dialysis session I have before next week’s ‘big event’. So I’ve decided that before I go any further I have to tell you all a little bit about my dialysis machine. Apologies if this sounds like a lesson in biology and chemistry, I’ve made it as simple as I can. WHY DO I NEED DIALYSIS? A dialysis machine in simple terms replacing SOME of the functions of our kidneys for people […]

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DAY ONE: A second chance at life.

So I am back, charged up and it’s time for some BIG NEWS, and BIG CHANGES. But first a short story: Initially, I started this blog with no purpose, I was forced by friends to go public and attempt blogging properly considering the numerous times I tried and failed with other blogs. Given my lack of purpose, I never spent much time working on posts, or editing photos let alone regularly posting. But someone told me once that I was in a position where I needed something from the […]

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Planning for Malaysia

TWO WEEKS TO GO TILL MALAYSIA! Its now less than two weeks till I embark on a trip that I have been waiting for a very long time. Truth be told the ambition was never to go to Malaysia as such, but rather to finally have an overseas trip purely to travel and explore. The excitement has been building up for the past 6 months, and finally when its come the time to get ready… I’ve been swamped with work that’s slowly making the excitement of Kuala Lumpur seem distant […]

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Day Trip #2: Hunua Falls

So been a while since I actually posted, purely because I’ve been trying so hard to get through everything I want to do before summer ends before I post about it all. But I have been good, healthy and extremely BUSY!  Since I’ve last posted, I’ve been around New Zealand, done some wicked adventuring and finished another law paper at summer school and begun an internship Among all of these happenings I’ve managed somehow to get through my very long list of things to do for this summer holidays, […]

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Day trip #1: Awhitu Lighthouse, Auckland

  If money is currently an issue and time is of value, don’t be scared to explore your backyard instead of sitting around complaining about your friends that are headed Thailand or USA. Trust me, New Zealand has some exciting gems–> So my plan while I wait on a very long kidney transplant list is to see what NZ has to offer. I had heard about this lighthouse near Waiuku a while ago and after attempting to plan a trip to go there for a couple months nothing really was […]

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Leaping into the new year.. literally

  Hey its me again!    So firstly a huge apology for the fact that I ended my last post saying how much I would be posting as I attempted to get out and get more things done. My only excuse however is that I did in fact take out my bucket list and attempt some of it- which is why I have been too busy to write about it all. BUT this is all about to change as summer school has not inflicted its pain upon me which means […]

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