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Virginia-Kidney Donor

In February 1977, my 17-year-old sister Lisa, was killed in a car crash. Lisa was a senior in high school, and the baby of the family. My parents decided to donate her organs. Unfortunately, Lisa did not pass away in a hospital, so most of her organs were unusable. Luckily we were able to donate her cornea to give someone the gift of sight. I believe that is when and why I became an organ donor
I donated my left kidney to my niece Jessica on March 23, 2016. She is 35 years old and was born with just one kidney. When she went to her doctor she found out she was in stage 5 kidney failure and her kidney was only working at 7%. Jessica was going to have to go on dialysis and it was decided she was to have peritoneal dialysis. About a week after her doctor visit, she had surgery to have a tube inserted into her abdomen for her dialysis. Every night for eight hours, she would hook this tube up to a machine. No matter what time she went to bed, it was dialysis every night for eight hours. I’m glad she was able to do dialysis, but it wasn’t what I wanted her to do for the rest of her life.
When Jessica was told she was going on the transplant list, she was able to give her family a web page so we could be tested to see if we were matches for her. I filled my form out right away and sent it in. In August of 2015 I had my first blood work done. A few weeks later, Jessica and I found out we were a match. She Lives in California, so the last part of October, I had to go to UCLA in Los Angeles. I had three days of tests, plus I had to meet with a surgeon, social worker, nephrologist, psychiatrist, and had to attend a class. A few months after I got home we got the news that I had passed all my tests and was clear to donate.
In March 2016 my husband Keven and I flew to LA for the transplant. After both surgeries, Kevin and JD, Jessica’s husband, talked to her surgeon. They were told that the transplanted kidney started working right away. It was working so well that Jessica’s dialysis tube was removed at the time of transplant. She had originally been told that her tube would probably have to stay in for a while in case the kidney didn’t work.
I was in the hospital just overnight and was off my pain meds in a few days. I was off work for 6 weeks because my donor coordinator recommended me to take that much time off. I felt fine just a couple of weeks after surgery. Jessica was home and off dialysis, so the surgery was totally worth it. I urge everyone to list yourself as an organ Donor on your license. Everyone can make a difference in someone’s life.