Hello all – I'm back.
Today is the first day I've been physically alone in weeks, so I am finally sitting down for a follow-up post to my donation on Nov 14th, 2018 at Mayo Scottsdale.
I'd like to leave my name and experiences here for anybody who may be donating – or just even considering. The most helpful thing I did during my process was talk to as many donors & recipients as I could find. So: I'm adding my name to the record here for anyone looking to do the same.
People reading this in the future: please do do not hesitate to contact me if you think there's a question I can answer that might help you out, somehow.
Picking up where I left off:
I met my partner in Phoenix several days before my donation so we could relax before things got intense. I found a Scottsdale long-term Airbnb that was ~10mins from Mayo, so we got checked in and my family arrived on the 13th. A couple of easy days playing tourist was fantastic 🙂
And then, on Nov 14th 2018 somewhere around 7am, I donated my left kidney to an old college friend.
The experience is not something I can fully describe here. There are a lot of details, lots of very specific memories I have of this time, so if anyone has specific questions (pain? pre-visit prep? nervousness? travel? costs? housing? Mayo details? etc) please reach out. It is just impossible for me to detail everything properly – but I'm happy to dig into specifics for anybody who has a question.
I remain amazed at the number of variables that lined up for this donation: my life, my friend's life, the support and work of both our families and partners, our employers and friends, support from dozens of Mayo's professionals and experts, all the preparations and plans that took place beforehand, the work of all the potential donors who came before me … just the sheer number of factors and people involved. I feel like there are several million ways this could have panned out – and we both came out on the best side of the best possible combination of all of these untold variables. That's quite something.
I remember one very specific moment, right out of surgery (which would have been right when my recipient was headed in) coming off of the anesthesia – my brain finally wandered back into the world and I finally remembered who I was, where I was, what just happened. Finally knowing that everything after *that specific point in time* was all autopilot – that there were no more unknowns. That the rest was all out of my hands. This moment is now one of my top ten life memories – just lying in a quiet bed somewhere, feeling the world coming back into focus, knowing my part was now a final, complete, and finished thing.
One night in Mayo to recuperate was enough, and then I went 'home' to my temporary spot in Scottsdale for a week of downtime. Lots of books and netflix. My pain remained about a ~2 or 3 of possible 10, which was fine. I owe an indescribable debt to my partner and my family for their help during this time. The support they gave me was amazing, and humbling. My partner in particular shouldered a huge, difficult amount of this experience – she's absolutely the most stellar person I know. I overflow with gratitude for having her in my life.
Mayo warned me about the up-and-down nature of the recovery and damn, were they right: One day I'd feel great, the next day I'd feel like a truck hit me: fatigue, muscle soreness, lethargy. Those up and downs continue to a very lesser degree, but that first week was something.
My recipient did great. He went into this pretty rough, though, so he had a harder experience coming out. His first couple of days were rocky. His story is his own, but from my side it was good to see him finally clear some final hurdles and feel his new 'hardware' kick in and start to enjoy all the hard work we both put in. It was pretty astonishing to hear the post-transplant numbers that they shared with me. Apparently the kidney I gave him is a real go-getter 🙂 It is going to serve him super well.
Today is Nov 28th, 2018, exactly two weeks after our transplant date, and we're both doing super well. I'm finally home, in Oregon, and taking lots of time off of work. My recipient is back in AZ doing the same (he lives there) – neither one of us has obligations for weeks, so we're just regaining our strength and hanging out in our respective towns. It is a good time in both of our lives.
I want to send a huge thank you to everybody here that I spoke with over the last year, and to those who wished me well and shared their experiences with me.
I would love to pay that goodwill forward, and I hope this post helps me do exactly that for someone who may read this and want to know more.
Thank you to all,
– PDX, 11am, 11/28/2018