Tonawanda News — I almost didn’t answer the phone.
My seldom-used landline is not often answered but for some reason, I picked it up. The call was from Jenny at Erie County Medical Center’s Transplant Unit.
“Cynthia, we have a possible donor for you,” she said.
That’s when my knees buckled. I had been on the kidney transplant list for a mere four months. I had been told the wait would be four to six years.
The male donor was on life support and was expected to die soon. Potential recipients were being prepared for possible, perhaps even likely, transplantation.
Jenny asked if I been sick or had recent surgery, run a fever or been hospitalized? No to all.
“Get here ASAP,” she said.
After that, time passed at warp speed. Two hours later, I was admitted to the 10th floor unit.
My transplant surgeon, Dr. Sunil Patel, stopped by to give me updates. The donor was only 22. The kidney had two renal arteries (an abnormality) and one of them was twisted. The organ was stressed and likely damaged but it was young. Though it was of questionable quality, the surgeon thought it was my best chance at ever getting a kidney, due to my extremely high antibodies. We were “taking a chance,” Dr. Patel said, but one I couldn’t pass up.
I was taken to the operating room at 7 p.m. April 16. I woke up in the trauma intensive care unit at just past 4:30 a.m. The nine-hour surgery had gone well despite some difficulties.
However, my new “bean” failed to function. It lay “sleeping” in my lower right abdomen, requiring another 10 days of dialysis and lots of anguish. No one could tell me if or when the kidney would work.
Many things surprised me about the transplant but the one that plagued me was the way I felt about my donor. I found myself deeply grieving this young man I had never met. I imagined turning the calendar back and changing things so he could still be living his young life. I wept. I knew I’d be free of dialysis someday if the kidney ever worked.