There are certain events in our lives that bring on a catalyst of change. This is a story of one of those events which has changed my life and the lives of my family, specifically mine and my fathers. I first noticed that my father wasn't feeling, nor looking that well during the summer of 1997. One night after a family dinner my parents broke the news to myself and my brother. They explained to us that my dad was suffering from end stage renal failure (kidney disease). It turns out that several years prior while in the hospital for a severe staff infection my father was given a life saving drug named (I cant spell it, so im not even going to try to type it.) This drug cured his staff infection, and in fact prevent him from dying. However the drug slowly deteriorated and destroyed his kidneys.
During our family conversation we discussed the various options my father had for treatment, life extension, etc. Apparently my dad had about 3 or 4 months before he would have to undergo a daily regiment of kidney dialysis. For any of you that dont know, Kindey Dialyis is not a cure for kidney failure, simply an extension for your life. As well dialysis is very time consuming and draining. As far as a transplant from a cadaver was concerned. Well the avg. wait was 3-5 yrs long, and the longer you’re on dialysis the less likely the kidney will take.
My mom mentioned that she was going to have her blood tested to see if she could be a match for a possible kidney donor.
It was at that point when the issue of kidney donation was broughtup. *As a side note, my father never asked us to do this.* My father never aked me if I wanted to donate. Myself and my brother decided to do so as well. Myself, my brother Brian, and my mom Roberta all had our blood types tested in order to verify if our kidneys could be a match for my fathers transplant. It was actually kinda weird, because, as I stepped into the doctors office to have my blood tested, I knew I would be a perfect match. As it turns out my intuition was 100% correct .
My blood type turned out to be 0 Negative, which is the same blood type as my father. On the other hand, my brother's and mother's blood type was not a match. I then had to make a decision. Believe it or not, that decision was actually the easiest one I ever made. "I decided that I was going to donate a kidney to my father."
I then began to proceed with further testing. I was introduced to my transplant coordinator Mrs. Julie Trollinger. A transplant coordinator is responsible for walking you through the whole transplant process. Fortunately, Julie was acceptional and halped out in every way. She was even there when I went into the operating room, and was there when I was in the recover. She made the whole transplantation process a lot nicer of an experience. We set a preliminary date for Feb 23rd 1997. Before we could go through with the date. Julie explained to me that I would have to undergo several tests. Although I was the same blood type, there are still several tests one must go throught to make sure that their body and kidneys are healthy
The time got closer and closer and before I knew it it was the day before surgery. My mom told me I could have whatever I wanted 4 dinner, so I DID. (NO JOKE) I ordered 4 lobsters and ate them all YUM…… the bad part is that I had to give myself a fleet enema later that evening as I was not supposed to have any solids in me past 9 PM. (that was not too fun) I arrived at Washington Hospital Center at 5am that morning to get prepped for surgery. Basically all pre-operation is that you get into those hospital clothes and they put a shunt in your arm. (sounds simple right?) Well it turns out the placing of the shunt was the most painful part of the whole surgery. There were two nurses One good looking, one not so good looking. Well you guessed it, it asked the cute one to help me out… (it took 5 times to do it right with no pain killer). Before surgery my mom put a red ribbon on my finger for good luck!!! Now at any other time in my life there is no way I would have let her put a red bow on me, but hey at that time it did not seem like a bad idea. I then went to the room, and was given a sedative.. I woke up 6 hrs later in the recovery room to find out that everything was successfull. It has been about 3 years since the surgery and knock on wood my father and myself are doing and feeling great. Please check out my PROCESS PAGE to get a more detailed look at our surgery.
On February 23, 1998, in a moment of unrivalled altruism, my son Howie, the author of this Web Site, knowingly placed his life on the line to save mine by donating one of his kidney's to me.
I was truly blessed! Not only was Howie compatible to me in terms of Blood Type and Blood Antigens: but, more importantly, he had the Love and Compassion necessary for an endeavor of
of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, others dying from End Stage Renal (Kidney) Failure are not as lucky. It is estimated that in excess of 40,000 people were on the National Waiting List for a Kidney
Transplant in 1998, and, by the end of that year, over 12,000 who were on that Waiting List, passed away. While Dialysis Treatments can keep people on the Transplant List alive for a period of years, only a Kidney Transplant can assure a normal quality of life.
If you are a parent, you know that our children give us reason to live. We rejoice with them in their successes, and share the agony of their setbacks, but are always looking toward a future which will fulfill their goals and aspirations. Having your flesh and blood put their life on the line for you brings immense guilt. My greatest fear was that Howie would be adversely impacted during surgery: yet I could never be prouder, knowing that he would, without question, risk his very life on my behalf.
I was diagnosed with Kidney Failure by Johns Hopkins in 1995 and was placed on their Transplant List in 1996. In 1997 I asked to be placed on the Transplant List at the Washington
Hospital Center. Since Johns Hopkins is located in Maryland, and the Washington Hospital Center is in the District of Columbia, I became listed in Two (2) different Geographical Areas,
for Transplant Data purposes. Unfortunately, however, the Kidney Transplant waiting list in both areas was, at a minimum, two or more years.
As my Kidney continued to deteriorate, my ability to work was adversely impacted, and I literally could not stay awake during the day. It was becoming increasingly evident to my wife and two sons that my optimism could not compensate for the increasingly rapid deterioration of my physical and mental strengths.
Both my wife and children took the blood tests necessary to see if they were a match. Only Howie's results were positive, the rest is history!
My goal is to live as long as possible and, when my time comes, I pray that Howie's Kidney would be as strong as it is today. I tell everyone I know, that no matter how many mistakes Howie makes in life, they should never forget that on Monday, February 23, 1998, he knowingly placed his life on the line to save his father.
All of you who are reading this Web Site, because of its very nature, either have, or know someone who has, Kidney Failure. Be assured, that within your circle of family members, friends, neighbors, and/or co-workers, your Howie, your Angel, is waiting for his/her moment to come forward and save a Life.
When I found out that my husband had kidney failure, I was devasted. One hundred million thoughts started racing through
my head. How did this happen, when could this have happened, why did this happen, what does this mean, what kind of doctor do we go to, is this a curable or incurable disease, could I help him, who could help him? Would my husband grow old with me or not, would my husband be here to see our children get married and would he be able to enjoy the future offspring of our children, oh, so many questions!!!
We found out that the kidney failure was in fact due to a
previous illness he had in january, 1988. un-be-knowns to
us and the doctors, he had a boil on his neck which had
opened and the bacteria went into his body in the form of
a staff infection (common in diabetics). to make a long
story short after several weeks of being ill, he went into
a diabetic coma. At this point the staff infection traveled
throughout his entire soaz muscle. It seemed an impossible
ask to fight the infection escpecially since he was
allergic to penicillin. We thought he was a goner. three
operations and four blood transfusions later, including
the care of an internist, orthopedic surgeon, urological
surgeon, and an infectious disease doctor, he pulled through.
The drug which really saved his life was vancomycin.
however, this drug also destroyed his kidneys. it
wasn't until dad had a stroke, in august, 1994 that
we found out about his kidney failure.
So what next. Our internist tells us to seek the
advice of a nephrologist. We were given an appointment
with dr. jimenez at john's hopkins hospital, who confirmed
the diagnosis of kidney failure. Irwin underwent many
tests and had to return periodically to see the doctor.
he was put on a low salt, low protein diet, low fluid
intake and monitored quite carefully. as the kidney
failure progressed, we were faced with having to enroll
in the organ/tissue donor waiting list or finding a
family member or another individual who was willing to
donate one of his/her kidneys. In the interim, while
waiting for a kidney donor, there was the possibility
of having to go on dialysis. Irwin later switched from
john's hopkins hospital to the care of transplant unit
at washington hospital center because of the close
proximetry to our home.
I remember telling brian and howard about their dad's situation. I knew in my heart that both boys would opt to thelp their dad. However, being a mother, I did not want to pursue this avenue until all other possibilities were exhausted. My mother (83 years old) even offered to donate one of her kidney's if she could but because of her age, that was not an option.
Our immediate family was tested to see who would match Irwin's blood type (0 Negative) and antigens. Both Brian and I did not match. Howard's blood type was the same as his dad's with three out of the six anitgen's matching. One of the three antigen's was a perfect match.
I asked the transplant coordinator, Julie Trollinger, if it was possible for me to donate my kidneyto someone who I would be compatible with in trade for a kidney for my husband. This did not pan out since there are mnay legal problems that can airse form this type of situation. I found out that no matter how wealthy one might be, money cannot buy everything. In fact, it is illegal to offer money to purchase a kidney for transplant in the US. So you see you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If someone is not willing to donate a kidney you have to wait on a list until a match is found for you and that could literally be several years.
By now Irwin's condition was worsening and Howard made the decision to be his father's lifeline. He was going to donate one of his kidne's to his dad. Howard went through a battery of tests and scans and was found to be in good shape to doante. There was one minor complication; Howard had some excess vessels that the surgeon would have to work around. My concern, as a parent, with Howard donating was would he take good care of his own health after donation. I know that a person can live with even a quarter of a kidney, however, when you are young you do not concern yourself with health matters that may present itself in the future. Becasue of Irwin's wonderful positive outook on lie he made this time in our lives much easier to bear. He never had a negative outlook on his illness.
So finally came the day of the surgery. This was one of the most trying days of my life. Having a spouse undergo surgery is basd enough, but having a child and a spouse undergo surgery together, well words just can't describe it. On one hand I was happy that my husband had been given another chance to live. On the ohter hand I was afraid for my child. I am very proud of Howard, no more than proud, I felt that G-D had blessed us with a wingless angel, who gave his father a wonderful gift of life. In fact when I first saw Howard in the recovery room after surgery, he was swathed in white blankes and a white turban around his head and I remember my first thought was "thank you my angel, may G-D bless you with long life and good health."
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