My wife Wendy was struggling with CKD through 2018. It became time to decide if she should consider dialysis or pursue a living donor. After researching the dialysis options, we decided to pursue a living donor. Our friends were willing to get tested to determine if they were a match for Wendy. We greatly appreciated the outpouring of compassion for us. My son Justin and I agreed we should be first to undergo testing for a match. Our testing began in Feb of 2019. During that time, Wendy’s kidney function was at 9%. Her Nephrologist told us as a precaution Wendy should be ready to start dialysis. We agreed if she needed dialysis, she would do peritoneal at home. Her port was put in towards the end of Feb.
After all the testing my son and I went through, it was determined I was the better match. I was nervously excited as I had never had a surgery procedure in my life! After undergoing a final blood test in March, it was now determined I was not a match as Wendy’s immunity had changed. The first option was start dialysis and wait for a deceased kidney match. I asked my kidney coordinator how long will Wendy have to wait for a transplant? She told me it could take years. Feeling frustrated and a little angry to be honest I asked if there were any alternatives. She explained to me the Paired Kidney Exchange program. I had never heard of this before. I asked how it worked? My Coordinator explained I must be willing to donate a kidney to someone anonymous. We then would need to find a living donor for Wendy as she would be the most difficult to match. Upon finding her a match the others involved would donate to someone in need. How long would it take I asked? My Coordinator said it could be 3 months or more than a year to find Wendy a match. I liked the odds better.
Fast forward to the first week in May 2019. Although Wendy has her port in to begin dialysis, she has not had to do it yet. I received a call from my Coordinator that week with the news they had found a match for Wendy. I was so excited to share the news with everyone. The transplant surgery was scheduled for May 15th. I would go in first to have a kidney removed. I did find out my kidney was flown out to Washington State. How ironic as my family lived there for 5 years. Wendy went into surgery after I was out. We found out Wendy’s kidney was flown in on a private jet thanks to the donor. How awesome.
The surgeries went extremely well. The recovery for me was about 2 weeks and for Wendy about 8 weeks. There were 5 donors in our chain that saved lives in those 24 hours. Simply amazing.
We would like to thank all involved taking care of us at UW Madison hospital in Wisconsin. Those people are incredible human beings. To help spread the word of live organ donation, I have started a Facebook page called Kidney Kindness Care. This page helps spread the word of donation and hopefully helps others to understand the process.
That’s our story, we are both doing well and enjoying my wife’s second chance of normality! #DonateLife.