Ten Months Old- Story 1 of 2
This is the first of two stories written by Helena along with the following hot off the press good news update announced on September 12, 2014. The story continues with a new chapter and story 2 chronicles the joy of pregnancy and giving birth after Helena’s kidney transplant.
I would like to announce the birth of my daughter, Corinne Ida McDermott on Friday, September 12th at 7:26 AM at 6 pounds 10 ounces and 19 inches. Both baby and I are well.
Another miracle from transplantation.
Ten Months Old
My kidney that is… I myself am 32 years old. My kidney transplant was on September 18, 2008 and I have never felt as good as I do today. I feel invincible; “there is nothing I can’t do!” Well, that is the phrase that runs through my mind now that I have my new kidney strategically placed in my lower abdomen.
Last March, I didn’t have a spring in my step like I have today. Actually the winter of 2008 was the worst ever. I would come home from teaching and take a two hour nap. Ok, for anyone in the teaching field a nap is not that unheard of, but two hours! I went to the doc- tor for a routine urine test and days later I was told I had acute renal failure. What does that even mean, I thought, but it didn’t sound so good.
A kidney biopsy was in order to determine what state my kidneys were in, and of course I wasn’t looking forward to this. I had two of these before; due to my diagnosis of IGA nephropathy at four years old and HSP some- time in high school. Aside from taking some medication and missing almost every class picture in elementary school, the IGA didn’t greatly affect my life. Now with the biopsy results, it became apparent that it was going to affect me.
As my doctors tried to delay the progression of kidney failure, I began a cycle of predni- sone. But, by the end of June my nephrologist said we needed to have a kidney to kidney talk. He told me that the best option was to have a kidney transplant. A Kidney Trans- plant that sounded scary especially to some- one that has a history of fainting when getting blood drawn.
And so the process began. First I went to the Westchester seminar about transplantation. I was accompanied by my parents, sister and husband. As we sat listening to the presenta- tion, I couldn’t believe the number of people in the audience. The group spanned in age, gender, and race. It was a crash course in transplantation, with every step of the way neatly packaged into a power point presentation. Doctors, nurses and recipients spoke and when we left, we all felt a little more knowl- edgeable about the subject.
After the seminar I called the Rogosin Insti- tute at NY Presbyterian Cornell Weill, for a pre-transplant evaluation. This was all hap- pening so fast, but my options came down to transplantation or relying on dialysis to filter my ailing organ. I decided to go full speed ahead with the option of transplantation. It didn’t hurt that I had unconditional love and support from my husband, parents and sister.
So the appointment was made for the pre- transplant evaluation. The voice on the other end asked me if I had anyone that would like to be a kidney donor. Hmmm, that was a question I didn’t imagine being asked in my lifetime. How do you ask someone to give you their kidney? It’s not like I just need to borrow it either, I’m asking to keep it! So in not so many words I told my parents, my sister and husband what I was asked and in not so many words they were all willing to spare a kidney.
So I called back and told the voice that I had four willing donors. Now they would need to call to discuss their history with the Institute. My father was told he was not eligible be- cause he was taking heart medication from his heart attack. Instead of being relieved at the idea of not having surgery he was livid and said he would take the kidney out him- self. *This is highly not recommended. I can’t or won’t is not his vocabulary and luckily he passed this trait down to my sister and I.
As my three willing donors got the first tests, I thought who can I take a kidney from? My mother? What hasn’t she done for me al- ready? My baby sister? Who already juggles a thriving career, a budding relationship and very packed social calendar. Or my husband? Who had just lost his father to cancer in May 2008 and now this! The question however was not up to me. We soon found out that my husband was not a match, because his blood type was not compatible with mine. He was upset, but optimistic that everything would work out. Now it was down to my mom and sister. Deep down we all hoped that my sister did not have to be the donor. She was the baby and even though she was 25, that feeling of protecting her never really disappears.
My sister and mom would now begin tests to make sure they were healthy enough for the procedure. It was around the beginning of August and I did not yet get a call about ei- ther one of them being a donor. It was then when I started to get a bit nervous. I had heard the hardest part about the entire transplantation procedure was getting the donor. What if neither of them were a match? What if they really didn’t want to do It.? Now I was beginning to understand what people meant when they said getting a donor was the hard- est part.
The whole family went to my cousin’s wed- ding in August and other family members offered to be tested, which was reassuring. Then the next day my mother called and told me she was a match, great news I thought, but then she told me that during the testing they found something. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was surreal, my father in-law had died in May, I needed a transplant and now my mother had breast cancer.
My sister called me shortly after and told me she was a match and would be happy to give me her kidney. It was bittersweet. I was happy, there was a match. My sister stepped up to the plate in a time when our family was at rock bottom. My mom now worried about having cancer and her two daughters that would now be in adjoining rooms where a kidney would be transferred from one daugh- ter to another.
My mother had the cancer removed and is now finishing her last treatment of chemo, so it does not reoccur. My sister and I had our surgery in September and are both feeling really great. My sister recovered for two weeks after her surgery and still feels it was no big deal. She jokes that she’d rather have the surgery everyday than get on an airplane.
As for me I feel great. I enjoy telling people how good I feel and can honestly say I have never felt this good in my entire life. Having the transplant was like a rebirth. In the first few months of my reenergized life I catered to the kidney, got it checked and didn’t go into large groups of people. Now with it being six months, two weeks, and five days my kidney is right at home. Of course I take my medications every 12 hours but aside from that I am living life with no limits. Who cares about the economy when you have a new kidney and a body and mind that screams “anything is possible!”