Well, it has been quite a year! I actually have no idea where to start. It has been quite a journey, the beginning is probably best. So last year our transplant got cancelled here in PTA, the Dr had all sorts of dumb excuses for cancelling the transplant. We were just devastated. We really didn’t know how we would ever recover. I became quite depressed for about 3 months, then one day my Sister phoned,unbeknownst to me, while I kinda gave up, she was researching. She found a hospital in China that does all sorts of weird and wonderful therapies, she e-mailed them back and forth, sent me links, but when I tried to view them, they no longer existed, it was all a hoax. I couldn’t believe my amazing Sister never gave up, she just carried on, silently until she found something. Amazing. It was a pity it was all a hoax, but that sparked a memory in me, I remembered a lady I dialised with who said some Dr in the Milpark hospital does stem cell therapy. So we promptly made an appointment to see him. He was such a nice man, he said I cant to stem cell therapy but I can have a transplant. Say what now?????? Pete and I were blown away. We saw a new transplant co ordinator, my Sister and I went with our husbands to meet her and hear what we needed to do still. She sent us for more tests, then we were finally finished. So my new Dr presented to the board, 12 Nephrologists were present, but only 2 gave us a yes, the rest were all a resounding NO. The dumb transplant co ordinator in PTA wrote on my file that I have familial FSGS. Stupid cow. He called and said he needed to see my Sister and I. We went knowing this was not going to turn out well. he spoke to us regarding the diagnosis of familial FSGS, nobody actually tested my Sister by the way. All based on fear and assumptions. My Sister then asked what could be done, what if she wrote a letter to the board stating she understood the risks but she didn’t care either way, would they go for that? He was dubious to say the least, but he said she could give it a try. But that was December, we had been busy with this Dr since October, so they all promptly went on holiday. Then on the 7th of January, my Sister and her husband sent their letters of petition in. We waited about 6 weeks, then the call came, they actually approved us! We were ecstatic! It was finally going to happen! I was with my Mom when the call came in. It was just the best news ever!
But then we got our second devastating phone call. Man, I was so angry. Apparantly my shiny new Dr felt uneasy with the transplant, I was too much of a high risk for him, with FSGS and all. He didn’t feel comfortable doing the transplant. what a blow.
But then my new Dr phoned me a week later and said he made an app with another Dr at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre. I am to see that Dr in a month. As you can well imagine, we had very little hope. So a month goes by, neither myself nor Pete felt like going to that appointment. As a matter of fact, we were VERY close to cancelling the appointment. But we went anyway. Saw this new Dr. and he asked me why the other Dr thought I was high risk. I told him it was because of FSGS. He looked at me and said “So?” I just stared at him in astonishment. He then told us they do FSGS transplants all the time. Even the explosive type that kills kidneys within 2 to 5 years. Say what now??????? We were blown away. That was the 29th of April this year. He then said he cannot see why we couldn’t have the transplant within the next month! That blew us right away! We practically ran out of his office with the letter he wrote saying I was fit for transplant and phoned my Sister. She was SO excited! So very excited!
So my Sis and I went and saw our 3rd shiny new co ordinator, who was incredibly helpful. We really thought we were finished with all the tests, but we were wrong, this hospital is THOUGROUGH! Let me tell you! Luckily we were a good match. Well DUH, off course we are a good match! So when all the tests were done and everyone was happy, we saw the transplant Dr. He saw my Sis first, he needed to make sure I wasn’t pressuring her into giving up her kidney. She told him she really appreciated his concern but she was doing this willingly. He said to her, “You can DIE you know?” She said, ever so calmly, “I don’t care, I know the risks.” I said to her well no-one asked me, and I would most certainly care if she died, that was the last thing I could cope with. My Sister actually said to me on one occasion that if she did die, she doesn’t want me to feel guilty, I must know that she did that knowing the risks and she wanted me to have as normal a life as possible. Yeah. NOT gonna happen!!!!!
She was terrified he would find something wrong with her. it was quite funny, My Sister can get quite anxious when the unknown is looming. But all was well. He then saw Pete and myself, spoke to us about surgical risks and all that can go wrong, and right actually, then he said “How about next Tuesday?” Pete and I just stared at him. Pete asked if he was joking? No, he doesn’t joke. Do we agree with next Tuesday? Uhhh, jaaaaa! I went out to see my Sister who was in the waiting room, she was beaming, he already gave her the date, and I was just freaked out, totally freaked out! We actually couldn’t believe it happened so fast, that’s when you know God got involved.
We were given a week to notify a list people, shop, make lists, organise the boys, and I had to cook !0 days worth of food for Pete and the boys so they wouldn’t have to live on take aways. It was hectic, let me tell you.
The 4 of us arrived at the hospital at the same time on Tuesday morning 21 May at 6 am sharp. We booked in, got sent to a private room, and had high jinx all day long, entertaining our husbands and the staff. There was a Brother and Sister transplant ahead of us, a difficult case so we waited quite long. But then it was our turn, My Sister went in first, it was hard watching them wheel her out, I knew what she was going to go through. And and hour later they came for me. 5 Hours later, my amazing Sister was one kidney short and I was one kidney richer. It was such an amazing and difficult time. If it weren’t for my Sister’s dogged determination and challenging the Drs and their narrrow minded mindsets, and her dedication to the cause, this transplant would not have happened.
We made it very clear to everyone that this was our journey, Only the 4 of us were involved in the decision making process. This was a deeply personal journey and any and all opinions were not welcome.
It was quite difficult for my Mom on the day of the surgery, she desperately wanted to be with us at the hospital, but she wasn’t allowed to be there, so she phoned, a lot! It was wonderful having the support of our family and friends on the day, but in the end, it was the 4 of us who had to go through this. I say the 4 of us because our husbands were as much a part of this journey as we were. Although they didn’t go through the pain of surgery, they were our main care givers at home, and it was very difficult for them to see us in so much pain after surgery.
In ICU I was in isolation and my Sister was in the general ICU area, it was so difficult, I just kept asking the staff and Drs how she was doing, they kept telling she’s doing so wonderfully. It made me feel more comfortable, that is until I actually saw her 3 days later, she was not so wonderful, she was very ill and vomiting constantly, hadn’t eaten and wasn’t peeing. I was so shocked! And very very worried! I couldn’t believe everyone was telling me how fabulously she was doing. I was quite pissed off at that point, and complained bitterly to my Dr, he just told me it was all normal. My ASS!! I had a nephrectomy in 2006, and didn’t go through any of that. And I had the difficult surgery, 2 ribs off and through my back, no keyhole surgery, so I was quite alarmed when I saw her. She recovered quickly once I told her to stop all anti nausea and pain meds, her system could actually recover from there. When she was better she resumed the morphine and handled very well.
My Sister actually said to me on one occasion that if I ever feel scared and not comfortable with the transplant I can pull out, I must never think I will disappoint her if I didn’t want to go through with it. UUUUH……. should I not be saying stuff like that? We spoke about the transplant extensively over the 2 years we were trying to get a Dr to do the actual transplant, and not once did my Sister tell me she was afraid. The only time she felt a bit scared was if they did a nephrectomy through her back, the one I had, very painful and she knew it. But thank God, she had keyhole surgery to remove her kidney. Still bloody painful let me tell you.
My Sister is doing so well, she started running again, she said she has so much energy she’s climbing the walls! Her kidney function is returning to normal and she just looks so well. I’m so pleased. And I’m so very proud of her. She’s just the most amazing person I know. She truly is my Hero and a legend in her own right. I owe her everything, and to God for directing our steps every part of the way, getting us to the right hospital and right Drs by closing all the doors that were none of our business. We are so thankful to Him and my Sister and her hubby for walking this long and tedious journey with us. We are so thankful to her husband for consenting to the donation, he could at any time refuse and said no he’s not happy or comfortable with the risks, but he didn’t, and that we noticed with so much love in our hearts. It has been truly amazing not having to dialyse every day. I hated dialysis, even though it was at night on a machine with hardly any effort, it really is no way to live. My Husband and Sister absolutely hated seeing me hooked up to that machine every single night.
My Sister has 2 amazing super duper kidneys, and I got one of them! She warned me that her kidney would keep me busy, and boy is it keeping me busy! She was not kidding! I can’t drive anywhere then I have to go to the loo, it’s quite something. I go the loo so often during the day, it’s awesome! I used to wee twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed, but like 5mls, not a drop more. Now it’s liters and liters!! Astounding really. My kidney function is just awesome, my creatinine is 92, my filtration rate is 69, it’s amazing to see those numbers on paper and not 2 for my filtration and 1800 for my creatinine!!!! It’s so exciting for me, I enjoy every minute of my new found freedom. I smile when my bladder gets full, and it gets full fast and often! So I’m always smiling!
It has been quite a head bender for me to know I have my Sister’s kidney in my body and it’s working just beautifully. I keep calling it her kidney and she keeps telling me it’s not hers it’s mine. But it’s difficult, it is slowly sinking in that it is mine now, but it will always feel like hers, and that’s just how I want it to be, we share an organ now, I have one of her insides in me, and that in itself is a miracle. People often talk about miracles, but this truly is a miracle, against all the odds, we got our transplant, after we really thought that it was never going to happen. We are so truly thankful.
Tomorrow I will post some pictures of us in hospital, and what we got up to together in hospital.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for Hope and a Future. Jer 29:11