It’s hard to believe it’s been 11 years. I was busy doing yard work and concentrating on every branch, every blade of grass I could focus on. I kept myself hydrated by drinking plenty of water and when I finally finished, I sat down on the front porch and realized that I could no longer see out of the corners of my eyes. My corneas had become extremely swollen and puffy, and once I made my way inside I scheduled an appointment with my family practitioner immediately.
After running several tests it was discovered that I had high levels of creatinin (waste product that comes from the normal wear and tear on muscles of the body), as well as high protein levels in my urine. My physician referred me to a nephrologist (a doctor who deals with the physiology and diseases of the kidneys), and with further tests discovered that I had very limited kidney function.
Over the next two years we tried various treatments to reverse the damage, all unsuccessfully. I had great difficulty walking and breathing and my legs had swollen to the point of seeping fluids; I couldn’t make it more that 10 feet before lack of breath and total exhaustion set in. I told my roommate and that’s when the fear really hit: I believed if I went to the hospital I would never come home. I was resisting but luckily for me she convinced me to go to bible study and pray, which I did, finding strength and trust in what was to come, no matter the outcome.
My doctors all agreed that the next step was dialysis, a word I could barely say to myself, much less hear out loud. With my roommate by my side I began treatment and for three years my routine became home-work-dialysis-repeat. My nephrologist ultimately informed me I was a strong candidate for a kidney transplant and the process of getting on the donor list began, with high hopes it would be a short time before I received a new kidney. Year after year passed, along with dwindling hopes, when on November 5, 2017, I received the call. My wife, my devoted roommate for so many years, and I were sitting on the couch and listened excitedly as the coordinator told me “we have a match” and to get to the hospital!
I can’t begin to tell you what the past year and a half have meant to us. The precious gift I received from my donor has allowed my wife and me more time together, along with a new sense of purpose in life. We both volunteer for Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA) and our mission, like theirs, is to give back and educate others about the importance of tissue and organ donation so someone else, just like me, can receive that precious gift: a new lease on life.