by Tim Ridley
Up until about two years ago I did not know much about dialysis other than people with failing kidneys needed it to live. I had no ambition to sign my donor card or think of it, but then my mother at age 53 was told due to her diabetes she had to go on dialysis. I had never thought this would happen to me or anyone in my family.
This just about killed her spirits. I watched my mother, whom I am extremely close to, go from a woman full of life to a shell of a person. She seemed to do fine on in home dialysis for about a year and a half, then she came down with an infection that put her in the hospital for about three weeks. Up until this time she had refused to have me or my adopted brother get tested for a possible donation.
Well, she had given in to my wishes and let me get tested. She was going thru the University of Tennessee Medical Center transplant office, after contacting them it took a little over three months to get all the tests and results back. Everything was positive and they set the date up for 5/27/1997.
Everyone that I worked with was extremly supportive, they just would keep asking if I had any fears, I replied "no" up until the end. The truth was that I did, and as the date was set I started getting scared. That was when I found this web page, and emailed someone who gave their sister a kidney (Steve Blakeman). He told me the ups and downs of the surgery, then it dawned on me all my fears, concerns, and bad stories I had heard just went away (he was truly an answer to my prayers).
It has been a week since I donated the kidney, and I am now back home a little sore, but other than that I am doing great. My mother is still at UT (in Knoxville, TN) she had what appeared to be a bout with rejection, but it turns out now they think everything is OK.
When the possiblity of my mother losing my kidney came up it did depress me a little, and everyone asked if I regretted what I did. No, I would do it over and over again. Thru the entire process afterwords the doctors, nurses, and transplant staff have been wonderful and extremely supportive.
While I was recovering friends and relatives of the family would keep telling me how much of a brave and heroic thing I did. The truth is that it was neither - it was out of love for my mother, or more realistically it was not a brave deed. It was a human one. God gave us all two kidneys and those of us in good health take that for granted.
God forbid that my mother would lose the kidney down the road. I would still stick by my choice of trying to give her a gift of life back. It was the easiest choice I have ever made, and one with no regrets. I would encourage anyone that is considering being a donor to do so. I would also encourage everyone to sign their donor cards to give something that is a once and lifetime opportunity, the gift of life.