Living Kidney Donation: Heidi's Story
Selfishly Speaking: A Living Donor Perspective
Selfish reason #1 - I wasn’t done with him yet.
Kidney disease was slowly killing my husband, but he didn’t know it. My already thin husband was wasting away before my very eyes. And, like most husbands, was in complete denial and not following doctor’s orders well. He continued to say “I feel fine.” The day the hospital called with lab results and told me I should immediately take him to the emergency room, he went for a three-mile run. I’m sure you can understand the frustration. I awoke each morning listening for his breathing, fearing that I would find him cold and unresponsive. Not cool.
Selfish reason #2 - I was hungry.
Scott fought having the dreaded dialysis treatments for as long as he possibly could. Who can blame him? After finally getting an emergency port put in his chest with a direct line to his heart, he had to admit that maybe something wasn’t quite right. We met with the dietitian, and promptly gave up eating foods like potatoes, tomatoes and for the love of God, CHEESE! And, because I am lazy, I ate the same things he ate. After all, I wasn’t about to cook two dinners!
Selfish reason #3 – I’m impatient.
Scott’s sister was a perfect match. UW Health welcomed her with open arms, walked her through the process and treated her like the rock star that any willing donor is. Unfortunately, she found that she was beginning her own kidney journey. Then, Scott’s daughter was a match. She didn’t pass the evaluation either. I thought ‘Enough already!’ I put my arms around Scott and informed him that I had made my appointment to be tested. Being the stubborn man he is, he began to argue with me. I simply put my finger over his mouth and said “I’m telling you, not asking you. Let’s get this done already.” Sometimes, if you want things done, you have to do them yourself! After all, who doesn’t want the rock star treatment, right?
Selfish reason #4 - I had a lot to learn.
Through this entire process I felt the overwhelming need for control and struggled to differentiate between what I could and could not control. I wanted to control Scott’s response to his doctors. I controlled his diet. I made back-up plans for EVERYTHING. I even controlled my end - finding an organ. I call it the ultimate BOGO event: Bring an Organ Get an Organ. The lesson I learned? I control nothing, God does. He did it all. I learned to shut up and get out of his way. He put UW Health in our lives. Everyone from the ‘tour guide’ to the social worker to the surgeons - they were all put in our lives at precisely the moment we needed them. Every single individual we encountered at UW Health was a Godsend.
Selfish reason #5 - Getting to enjoy my empty nest with my best friend.
There’s nothing like a life and death experience to put things in perspective. Every day is a gift, and Scott and I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. We are the living example of all the cliches, and couldn’t be happier. And, I had an added bonus! Because we did the paired exchange program- in 28 days flat I might add- I got to save a stranger’s life too. Apparently, she took my kidney to the Indy 500.
I highly recommend being selfish. Save a life for all your own reasons!