Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gift of Life

24 years ago this week or next, not quite sure of the exact day, my mother received a kidney transplant. Several miracles have happened here. The first is that she received a transplant at all, the second that it has lasted 24 years and counting knock on wood.

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes sometime between the years 1962 and 1966, she doesn't like to talk about it and those are the years my brother and I were born. She tried to regulate and monitor her blood sugar levels and control her diabetes the best she could. despite that in 1983 she started to lose her eyesight. She had a few eye surgeries to try and save her eyesight and it helped slow the process down for a little bit. I don't know exactly how or when her body started shutting down. Its like it all happened slowly over the space of a couple of years. I was a senior in high school, I didn't know what to do . I tried my best to help but I know I could have done more.

She started feeling sick all the time, she went to my dads Doctor who just looked at her skin knew something was terribly wrong with her. After blood test to confirm her kidneys were failing and not filtering the impurities out of her blood. Mom started dialysis, got on a first name basis with all the nurses and doctors on the endocrinology unit at Holy Cross Hospital. Our favorite endocrinologist put mom's name in to be put on a donor list. Mom refused to use one of my kidneys to survive, she wanted one from a cadaver.

after several months of dialysis and a few hospital stays, we rec'd the call that there was a kidney available for her. Dad was out of town driving hi bus route, and I had just gotten home from work, mom and I were about to eat dinner. We had 3 hours to get mom into the hospital. I stayed with her during admission, while they drew blood for lab work. Everything had to be just right for her to get this kidney. Before they took her into surgery, she sent me home, to get some rest, she knew I had to take a final the next day. I went home. I wasn't worried about my mom any more. It was in God's hands.

I went home, ran to the neighbors house and told her the good news, She was shocked and hadn't known mom was that sick (mom was and still is a very private person). I then called my dad's dispatcher and told him to find away to let my dad know that mom was getting a "new kidney.

Next morning before I went into take my final test I stopped by the hospital to see how my mom was. She was still in the recovery room, they let me into see her. She was pretty groggy but happy. She whispered , guess what Andrea? I'm peeing! then giggled. Her sick kidneys hadn't worked for months, she was so happy to have a kidney that worked.

I looked at the statistics for the survival rates after kidney transplants on WebMD its states
that the survival rates are

  • 92% after 1 year
  • 80% at 5 years
  • 54% after 10 years

I think that means out of one-hundred people who receive a kidney transplant, in 10 years just over half of them will still be alive. Mom has had her transplanted kidney for 24years. It has survived her losing her eyesight, 2 hip replacements, a broken clavicle, and foot surgery. She has been alive to see me married, to cuddle grand kids and independently support her local yarn stores with all of her knitting projects.

Here she is showing here wacky sense of humor with the kids in some hats she knit them several years ago.


What prompted this long non-knitting post was a question I read in a Ravelry Forum thread. Part of the kintsib's post asked "Are you a donor?.......if something happened to one of your kids would you donate their organs?....Have you or do you know someone who has received a n organ transplant. i could answer yes to all these questions. The blog needed to know the story too so my children, friends and extended family would know what an amazing gift life is. Mom and Dad recently celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. I love you Mom.


BammerKT said...

My mom's best friend's son just received a pancreas and kidney after waiting a long, long time.

I know it's not for everyone, but I love that sometimes a good thing can come from a tragedy (these donations). If anything happened to me or my son, it seems like a natural to try to help someone else.

I hope your post inspires a few new donors and WOW about your mom. You must have been quite a responsible high schooler.

Heidi said...

Thanks for sharing your story, it was inspiring and much appreciated. I have discussed the donations of my organs with my family, and hopefully more people will at least discuss it after reading this. Thanks.