Yesterday, March 10, 2012, my wife Madelyn celebrated the five year anniversary of her kidney transplant. Prior to receiving her new kidney, she had endured nine years of dialysis treatments three times a week with each session lasting 4 hours. It was her second kidney transplant. Her kidneys betrayed her when she was only 18 years old. She received her first kidney transplant when she was 21. That kidney failed after seven years, nine months after our daughter Miranda was born, less than a year after we were married.
The ensuing 9 years of dialysis were difficult for her; for us. Patients undergoing hemodialysis usually develop dry, itchy skin as a side effect of treatment. Sleeping difficulties are common among patients receiving dialysis treatment. My wife would average only 2-3 hours of sleep a night, suffer terrible bouts of heartburn, and did I mention the dry, itchy skin? Yeah, that too.
Madelyn also suffered through bouts of dizziness from low blood pressure, painful leg cramps, and nausea (common side effects of dialysis). There are also many limitations on the types of foods you can eat. Daily liquid intake is limited to 32 ounces. 32 ounces. Our weekend trips to Disney World, and visits to our family in New York and Puerto Rico had to include arrangements for dialysis treatments. In short, having your kidneys fail and having to undergo weekly dialysis treatments sucks monkey nuts.
Now, my wife is not one to complain or feel sorry for herself. She handled the crappy hand God dealt her with grace and dignity. She inspired me (and my daughter) to not sweat the small stuff, to appreciate the good days and stare the bad days in the eyes and let them know that they wouldn’t break us; couldn’t break us. Despite many days spent in hospitals, I can tell you we laughed every day. She made it easy.
Since her kidney transplant, her life has been profoundly altered for the better; our lives, too. We’re the type of family we never were before; dialysis treatments and all the ills that come with it now a thing of the past…
and it’s all better because somebody decided that when they died, they wanted to help another person live.
As challenging as our situation was with my wife on dialysis, there are people out there with far worse conditions. There are thousands of people awaiting organ transplants who are looking at only months to live unless they find a donor. People whose bodies have expended all that their other vital organs have left to give as they await the one organ they need to live. Hoping that the right people die so that you might live is a rather desperate way to have to approach each day but it’s the reality of not only the person in need of the organ, but of their family as well.
Here are a few facts on organ donation courtesy of DonateLife.net:
> More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.
> Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
> An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.
> In 2011, there were 8,127 deceased organ donors and 6,017 living organ donors resulting in 28,535 organ transplants.
> 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
If you don’t know the essential steps to take to be an organ donor, allow me to put you in possession of truth. Just go here: http://donatelife.net/register-now, choose the state where you reside and fill in the required information. It will take all of about 60 seconds to complete. Then, in the evening, go to bed happy knowing that you did something that just might save up to 8 lives through organ donations and enhance many other lives through tissue donations. That’s a lot of lives that a little piece of you might live on in, don’t you think?
Need more motivation? Read some dramatic transplant stories here: http://www.organtransplants.org/journey
Thousands die every year waiting for a donor organ that never comes. You have the power to change that.
Please consider becoming an organ donor and feel free to share the link with your family and friends.
Like us on facebook and you’ll make us really happy; we’re not sure why, though, but studies have shown that people who like our facebook page are 37% cooler than people who don’t…