From the Kidney Donor's Perspective: Meet @mauraacro
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ROSEMARY: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What motivates you to take part in the community?
@mauraacro: I was scrolling through Twitter in October 2017 and saw a post that said, “I'm looking for a kidney for my mom. She has been on dialysis for almost 5 years.” I don't know what struck me about that particular post, but I immediately thought, “I can do that.”
I followed the link to the Mayo Clinic page for indicating interest in living donation and filled out the online health history questionnaire. A nurse called me shortly afterward, and the process of testing and evaluation followed fairly quickly.
Less than a month before I was scheduled for donation, I was worried about what surgery and aftercare would be like from a non-medical perspective. I searched for kidney donation online but didn't find much information about living kidney donors beyond how to donate and the technical process. I saw that Mayo Clinic Connect had very active groups but didn't find many living donor discussions at the time. I posted anyway, hoping that someone could steer me to the right place. The members were very generous with their support and information from day one.
I'm still not sure why, from a stranger's post on social media at that exact time in my life, what made me decide to donate. I am so glad to be a part of this, however, and want to be able to help and encourage donors or potential donors no matter where they are in the process, no matter the results of their evaluation.
ROSEMARY: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@mauraacro: In the beginning I liked being online and somewhat anonymous. I was going into surgery to have an organ removed and put into another person, and my main concern was about how much it would hurt and what kind of leggings would be most comfortable afterward!
My social worker, nurses, doctors and my family were all very supportive, but I didn't want them to feel like I was having second thoughts about donating. I certainly didn't want them to know I was worried about winter outfits. I loved that I could connect online with real people who had been through the same thing.
Now that I know some of the people on Connect, I like the genuine care and empathy they show to others. I like that both trivial and serious questions are answered and treated with respect, and I like that if someone doesn't have an answer, someone else will know where to find information.
ROSEMARY: What groups do you participate in?
ROSEMARY: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Connect.
@mauraacro: I learned from recipients and prospective recipients on Connect about the waiting list and the importance of organ donation. I already knew there are thousands waiting for an organ transplant, but I didn't know what waiting was like in the day-to-day life of a patient.
It was hard to tell people I donated an organ, for fear it appeared I was looking for accolades. Now that I know what waiting does to the lives of patients and their families, it's much easier to tell people about it.
I didn't find Connect until after my full evaluation at Mayo Clinic, but I have used it almost as a journal for myself and others, writing about my whole journey from beginning to end in the Transplants group. I have replied to people on Connect who went on to successfully donate to another person, and those who have made it through the evaluation and are waiting for results. Getting the word out about donation makes me feel like a hero!
ROSEMARY: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@mauraacro: I was surprised how easily and immediately I was welcomed.
ROSEMARY: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@mauraacro: I am energized by genuinely positive people. And a lot of coffee. My life often feels like a balancing act rather than being balanced, but my home and family are my base and where I find the most comfort.
ROSEMARY: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@mauraacro: I love getting together with friends and extended family; I'm grateful that some of them are both. We meet at each other's houses for appetizers and go on long walks to offset the snacks we eat. We love to go to '80s dance nights. Having one kidney has not slowed me down.
I didn't meet my kidney recipient until the day before surgery, but we now consider each other family. Since surgery, we have met in Mexico for her daughter's wedding and in Arizona and Las Vegas for fun. We will be going to Wisconsin for her other daughter's wedding and hope to meet up in Ghana for their family reunion. It's amazing how much bigger my life has gotten: I feel like I have gained more than I gave.
ROSEMARY: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@mauraacro: My mantra is, "I can do that."
ROSEMARY: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
@mauraacro: That they support me 100%, make me laugh until I cry and tell me when I'm wrong.
ROSEMARY: Puppies or kittens?