And the Call Came Through ...

by Dale A. Ester

"Think of something nice and peaceful" said the anesthesiologist seconds before he induced me into a deep sleep for a kidney transplant operation. All I could think of at that precise moment was "Am I really going to be able to drink a 44 ounce thirst-buster again?"

It was Monday, January 14, 1991. I had lost complete function of my native kidneys over the preceding years secondary to diabetes. But, when dialysis was required to keep me alive, it seemed to come so unexpectedly. I was feeling so poorly physically, I would have done anything attempting to make myself feel a little better, and thankfully, dialysis did this for me.

Surgery was being performed at a reputable hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. I had been awaiting a suitable cadaver donor kidney for what seemed an eternity, yet in actuality, only a short 6 months had elapsed. Dialysis treatments were going to become nothing more than a vivid memory for me! The time on the wall clock indicated it was 9:30 PM. I closed my eyes as they seemed to be growing very heavy ...

"How are you feeling Dale?", asked the recovery room nurse. "Everything went well during the surgery and you now have a viable working kidney inside of you." How those words sounded like a miracle to me even though my mind and body were still heavily sedated. I drifted back into a deep sleep secure with a feeling of total confidence!

Consciousness for me came about one and a half days after surgery. I had a foley catheter draining urine from my bladder to a device measuring urine output. I had an incision from the center of my pelvic area (directly above my groin) to slightly below my right rib. Twin tubes about the thickness of a pencil, each protruding about three inches below the incision site, were draining fluid from around the kidney into spherical shaped suction bulbs. The transplant surgeon had inserted an epidural into my lower spine (the same procedure used by some women to avoid the pain and discomfort of childbirth). I honestly felt nothing more from the surgery than a slight abdominal discomfort.

I received a magnitude of oral drug therapies 4 times a day and a morning IV of OKT3 to help thwart a rejection episode of the kidney transplant. I felt good, and then horrible, seemingly at the same time! Rejection is not an entertaining event for any recipient to undergo.

I spent a week in the hospital and was visited by the dietician, transplant coordinator, and the renal social worker helping me to become familiar with the pills I was ingesting and instilling in me the belief I MUST NEVER miss my medications. They helped me to understand signs of kidney rejection should it occur again. I left the hospital well educated regarding my new kidney and how to take good care of it so it can last me a lifetime.

I am now almost five years post-transplant. I have my blood drawn for labs every three months and see the nephrologist likewise to review the results. I have been steadfast to the medication therapy resulting in a kidney which has been functioning at peak performance.

I was sick for so many years. I never anticipated how much better I would feel with a transplant. I am feeling so well it is almost indescribable. I have found an enormous amount of renewed energy. Gone are the days of nausea and tiredness resulting from dialysis treatment. I have reclaimed my life through the transplant procedure and recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to seize it with enthusiasm. Heartfelt as I can possibly can convey, my word of advice to those waiting on the kidney transplant list is also optomistic; Your time will come, sooner than you think." I realize it did for me!

And by the way, I can and do drink 44 oz thirst-buster's with NO problem! In fact, I drink over a gallon of liquids a day. When my bladder is full, using the restroom is almost a religious experience for me now. Oh how I treasure the sound of "tinkling water!"