Hey, I'm Jason. I'm a chronically-ill-super-freedom-loving-medical-self-journalist.
I have the good fortune of a very diligent support network. One member of this group has been asking around to find experiences of former donors. I’d like to share exerpts of one of the responses:
FROM A DONOR WHO GAVE A KIDNEY THREE YEARS AGO: I hadn’t had an operation before (well, except for having my wisdom teeth out in high school) and I really didn’t know what to expect. My mother had scarlet fever as a child and that may have led to her slow renal deterioration over the years. By the time of our operation, she was really weak and jaundiced. She’s doing great now, and needless to say, I have secured the title of “favorite child” in my family!
Advancements in medicine have been incredible and in the ten years … the procedure has become less invasive. I have three laparoscopic scars on my stomach, the top one being about ¼” wide and the lowest one being about double the size. I also have a 2-3” straight scar on my bikini line, which is hidden in my flab. All in all, the scarring isn’t very obvious…whenever I go swimming, people never seem to notice them.
About the procedure…I was in the hospital for three days. I remember waking up in my room and feeling really groggy. I basically slept for three days with an IV in my arm and pain killers that I could take my pressing a button next to my bed. … I wasn’t in excruciating pain, but I did feel sore from the wounds, which were bandaged up and hurt whenever I moved. It was a bit painful to get up from a sitting position because the wounds are in a soft area that moves when you move. I was at my mom’s house three days later and spent the next three weeks watching TV and talking short walks around her neighborhood. I had to wait three weeks before I was allowed to take the long-haul flight back to Hong Kong.
My doctor told me that my life wouldn’t change very much after the operation. My diet is the same and my lifestyle hasn’t changed. I’m not supposed to participate in any activities that might threaten my remaining kidney, like martial arts, but other than that, no “sacrifices”. I have a pharmacist at Brighams whom I can always email with questions about medication that might be harmful to my kidneys. Oh, I shouldn’t take aspirin and whenever I come across a medication that I’m sure about, I ask him first. People can be born with one kidney, so it’s not like you’ll be a freak of nature.
The great thing about donating a kidney was seeing my mother instantly improve. The recipient looks fantastic almost immediately. I remember noticing how the whites of her eyes became whiter 24 hours after the operation, when I visited her room. In fact, she was cleaning her oven the day she returned home (which I found annoying, actually). “
Do you know a donor who can share the experience with readers? It’s really quite helpful to hear other people’s takes on medical proceedures. You can post comments on my section: Share an Experience.