This story begins in April, 2016. Kim had a fainting episode at work one morning in April of 2016. The ambulance was called and he was taken to the ER where they told him his blood pressure had bottomed out and that was what caused him to pass out. During that admission Kim was seen by a nephrologist who informed Kim his kidneys were failing and had been on a steady decline for about 3 years. During Kim's first visit with Dr. Basuel, Kim was told that he needed to decide what form he wanted his kidney to take - did he want to do dialysis or did he want to get a new kidney. Over the course of the next 8 months Kim's kidneys continued to decline and the question changed from "you need to start thinking about..." to "your kidneys are functioning at 15% - we need to start making plans for dialysis. Another 4 1/2 months passed during which time Kim had 2 more fainting episodes. On May 2, 2017 Kim had his initial visit at the Johns Hopkins Transplant Department. He met with surgeons, nurses, social workers, financial counselors and had bloodwork done. Then later in May the bottom dropped out. Not only was Kim suffering with failing kidneys, but he was having a lot of trouble with back and shoulder pain. During one of his many CT scans, Dr. Brandon found what appeared to be a fracture of his pelvis. While waiting to see Dr. Brandon to get the results of the MRI Kim had his final fainting episode. This time his head hit the cement floor of the waiting room and his heart stopped. After CPR was started and the ambulance crew worked on him they were able to get a heartbeat back. Four days in the ICU and 2 more days in the hospital came and went before Kim was able to go home - just 2 days before Allyson graduated from Frostburg...The cause was believed to be an extreme drop in blood pressure caused by medication and made worse by his decreasing kidney function.
In June of 2017 Kim started the arduous process of being listed on the kidney transplant list. Test after test - EKG, stress test, blood work, MRI's and CTs' of the pelvis and abdomen - Kim was referred to Dr. Dudas for placement of his peritoneal dialysis catheter. Luckily Kim was a candidate for home dialysis as he was adamant that he not have to go to the dialysis center. July 12th was the magic day - the day he got his catheter. I'll save the story of THAT surgery for another day and time. Suffice it to say that it was a nightmare from the beginning but it's history and, as Forrest Gump says, "that's all I'm going to say about that".
In the meantime, Kim decided to let friends and family in on the plan - to see if there are any people out there who might be willing to donate a kidney so that 1) Kim doesn't have to wait so long on the kidney transplant list - it would have been at least a 3-year wait; and 2) a kidney from a living donor is a better way to go because they can find the best possible match to help ensure the best possible outcome. Kim was VERY blessed - not only did all 3 of our kids step up, but 8 (EIGHT) friends and family offered a kidney...The people at Johns Hopkins were absolutely astounded that we brought a list of 11 potential donors...and so were we! The 3 kids were asked to go through the initial survey and blood work to determine if 1 of them might be a match. As it turned out, all 3 were a match but Matthew appeared to be the better match of the 3 of them.
August finds Kim and I sitting in the Fresenius Home Therapy office learning how to take care of the catheter and do the peritoneal dialysis (PD) exchanges. Two weeks of training every weekday for 5 - 6 hours and Kim is on his own! Home dialysis is preferable over hemodialysis for a number of reasons, 2 of which are: 1) it is more consistent as it is done every day of the week, not just 3; 2) the exchanges can be adjusted to fit your schedule. As a result, Kim would do his first fill at around 5:00pm - 6:00pm. The solution would "dwell" for at least 4 hours and then he would drain it off. When that was done he would fill up again and let the solution dwell all night long. Every morning we were up at 6:00am so he could drain a final time, take his vitals, and then go back to bed. This way he was free all day long to run quick errands or cook dinner without being weighed down by having the solution in his body during the day. Once a day I had to change the dressing over the PD catheter and clean the entrance site, but other than that PD was not very difficult to do.
Matthew underwent a plethora (like that word? It's very appropriate) of testing. Blood work multiple times...CT scans, nuclear tests, more blood work, CT scans and another nuclear test...Numerous trips to and from Frosturg and to and from Baltimore to have all of this testing done. I have no idea how many thousands of miles I have put on the car - seems like 100,00 miles - but that was my contribution "to the war effort" as my parents used to say, so I was glad I could do it. Finally he got the green light to donate and surgery was scheduled. Hallelujah! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train!