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 ready for surgery. By 7.30am I was in her room and hugging her goodbye. She went in at approximately 7.45am.
8.00 am- By around 8am two surgeries to take out two different kidneys, in different parts of the country began. One of them was in Auckland (Leah’s) and at the EXACT SAME TIME the kidney that was coming to me was being retrieved from the donor in ANOTHER CITY. NB: They do the surgeries at the same time so that neither donor could pull out or change their mind and affect the chain that was about to happen. The kidney is taken out using what is known as the keyhole method, creating one small cut along the donors belly and using two keyhole sized cuts shortly to the right of the cut. The surgeons navigate their way into the donors body to retrieve (from the front) one of their kidneys (which are actually located in our lower back)
11am – So after 2-3 hours of surgery two kidneys in two different places were taken out and placed into a box of ice and given their very own doctor escort. These kidneys were put on a flight (commercial) and flown past each other. Leah’s going down South and mine coming North to Auckland.
Myself on the other hand… had an extremely long day of waiting. The night before I was told to stop eating and to be nil by mouth for the entire day and be ready for surgery at any point. They made me put on tight socks and walk around naked in the worlds most revealing hospital gown, that was about 10x my size.
10 am, no response, 12pm nothing… 1pm nothing. 1.30pm… still waiting and starving and beginning to get very anxious.
2.30pm– news that they would be coming to get me very soon and that it’ll all be starting within the next hour after that. It was probably only at this moment that the fear took over the excitement and I suddenly realised what I was about to be going into. Everything felt very permanent, the next four to six hours would determine the next chapter of my life.
2.35pm– Things start to seem a little scary when your surgeon comes in and tells you first off there is a chance you may die, but he is going to try very hard to not let that happen. SO the cards were on the table, death or a completely new and amazing life. I don’t gamble but I’m sure these were very obscure and painful odds.
3 pm- My older sister reluctantly volunteered to come up to the pre-op room with me. When we got there I was under the impression everything was all ready for me to go but actually it was only when we got there that we learnt my new kidney was still in the air flying up to Auckland. So while the kidney was being waited on, they decided to put some IV lines and other tubes in me (while awake instead of while I was under anesthetic)- much to my dismay. Heres a picture of a couple of these lines, one to measure my blood pressure and a couple others to be used if an emergency situation arose.
4.00pm- still waiting for the kidney to arrive, my sister was getting extremely nervous about everything. This entire week my mum had been sick and so couldn’t be at the hospital with me, a lot of pressure fell on my sister and father to handle my operation and recovery period. Time seemed to suddenly speed up and the thoughts of something going wrong, or of my body instantly rejecting the kidney flooded my mind making it almost impossible to be brave and smile.
Exactly 2 min before I went in to receive a new kidney from an anonymous donor.
4.30pm- The kidney had arrived, the time had come for me to leave the safety net of dialysis behind and attempt one of the hardest but fulfilling treatments. This is because having a transplant doesn’t fix everything it is just another type of treatment for end stage kidney failure patients- this is because of the huge responsibility that comes with being given someone else’s organ to look after. A part of me wanted to run away at this instance, the second that they wheeled me out of pre-op and I had to let go of my sisters hand. As they pushed me towards large white doors, my eyes were watching her through a thin glass panel lining the door of the room I was just in. Combine nearly 24 hours without food, loss of blood and the coldest hospital gown and you wind up with a type of pain sweeping over your body- like nausea only far worse.
4.45pm- They asked me to remove my gown and hop up onto the icy cold stainless steel operating table. The last time I was here I was allowed to take photos but this time my brain couldn’t think to ask. The med student that had earlier asked me if he could watch was standing next to me holding my hand telling me how everything was going to be alright. We sparked up a deal that morning that he could come see me being cut open only if he helped me out at the beginning and told me all the gory details at a later stage. In the room everyone was moving fast there were giant lights shining down on me and nurses pulling at each of my limbs, attaching cuffs, pricking for more blood and tieing up my hair. Within a minute I saw a large pole with white solution come toward me, I took my last breath and they put on a large oxygen mask and told me very slowly “you will feel a little sleepy now Denny, I can’t wait to see you when its all over”
4.51pm- goodnight world.. see you on the other side.