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This journey started many years ago when I was diagnosed with PolyCystic Kidneys (PKD), which is a genetic disease that can be passed from one generation to the next. There is no cure and it affects roughly 600,000 people in the United States alone. My mom had PKD and she passed it on to her three favorite children. She had a kidney transplant in 1999 when my brother donated a kidney to her (which automatically qualified him as a favorite child as well) and lived a healthy happy life until her passing earlier this year at the age of 83. I always knew that I would likely need a transplant or dialysis at some point in my life as my kidney function deteriorated, and last November I was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN for evaluation for a transplant.
I am blessed to be so close to Mayo Clinic, as it is the top hospital in the country for kidney transplants, and the healthcare professionals there are fantastic. I went through an in depth evaluation in January and after extensive tests I was told on March 15th that I had been approved for transplant. Once I was approved, I was automatically put on the waiting list for a kidney from a deceased donor (which can take 3-6 years) and was encouraged to look for someone who would consider being a living donor. Over the years several people had said "I'll give you a kidney if you ever need one" but now I was faced with actually having to ask people and it terrified me. I was blown away and humbled at how many people genuinely wanted to help and offered to be tested to see if they were a match. The best chance at a match is usually a sibling and as I said earlier in the post 2 of my siblings also have PKD and my brother donated a kidney to my mom, so that left one sibling that didn't have PKD and still had 2 kidneys...my sister Mary.
I wrote an email and sent it to Mary telling her that I was in need of a kidney donor and asked her if she would consider being tested. I also told her that I completely understood if she would rather not be tested as she had just gone through some medical issues of her own and she could think about it and let me know whenever she was ready to talk about it. She responded immediately and said that she would be tested immediately and really wanted to be able to donate her kidney. I can't tell you how moved I was at her generosity and willingness to help. I was moved but not surprised as she is one of the most genuine and kind hearted people in the world, and I'm sure she is now one of the favorite children too...and holds a very special place in my heart!!
Once she was tested and they determined she was a match we needed to work through a number of challenges and get to the point that they would schedule the transplant which ended up taking several months. We finally had the surgery scheduled for October 23rd, but found out the week before that it needed to be postponed as they found I had an infection that had to be cleared up. 28 days of antibiotics and a couple more hurdles and we are now rescheduled for December 24th!! Remember how wonderful I said that my sister Mary was earlier? Well she had to outdo herself by not even hesitating at giving up her Christmas celebration with her family and coming to Minnesota from Arizona so we can have the surgery done on Christmas Eve!!
I have always believed that family is the most important thing in my life, and this Christmas miracle and gift of life is living proof of that. Lori , Ryan & Abbey, Kelly, Maddie, my siblings, Lori's siblings, and extended family and friends have been so supportive and I feel so blessed and can't thank you all enough. Keep the prayers coming for both Mary and me. The gift of life is truly precious and I look forward to recovering and paying it forward for years to come!!