Frugal Foodie Mama: I'm Sharing My Spare: The Beginning of Our Kidney Donor Story

Friday, October 8, 2021

I'm Sharing My Spare: The Beginning of Our Kidney Donor Story

Photo credit: Meredith Brook Photography

So today's post isn't going to be like my usual blog posts on here. I won't be sharing an easy to make recipe or any cooking or baking tips. Today, I am going to take a moment to get a little personal with you all- something that I don't do all that often on here.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have already seen my post in July about my then boyfriend's impending need for a kidney donor. Colin has been battling kidney disease since he was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder in his mid-twenties. 

His doctors were not able to identify what was wrong with him in those first few weeks of his illness. In the meantime, the disorder wreaked irreversible damage to his kidneys during the weeks that elapsed between when he was first admitted to the hospital and then finally diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura.

He recovered from his illness, but the damage had already been done as far as his kidneys were concerned. He was told at some point in his life- maybe 20 years or so down the line- that he would one day possibly need dialysis and then eventually a kidney transplant. Through meds and a few dietary changes, he was able to maintain a manageable percentage of kidney function until about 2 months ago.

Two months ago, everything changed. His kidney function dropped below 15%, and his nephrologist decided that it was time for us to start considering at-home dialysis.

Colin started at-home dialysis over a month ago. While we weren't expecting the process to be easy, we didn't exactly anticipate how taxing it would be either. From the sleepless nights to the possible exposure scares to the numerous ER visits to the fluctuations in his blood pressure from being scary high to tanking to the point that he was passing out on a sidewalk a few weekends ago, dialysis- while a temporary fix for end stage renal disease- is hard on both the patient & their loved ones. 

Not to mention the fact that the risks associated with dialysis are almost as great as the benefits that come with it. Most dialysis patients can only survive for 5-10 years if a donor kidney doesn't become available.

Fortunately, my now fiance (in case you missed the news on my Instagram, Colin proposed to me last month!) won't have to wait that long for a new kidney. We found out about a month ago, after weeks of talking to various members of the kidney transplant program at UPMC in Pittsburgh and a two-day evaluation process that not only am I medically approved to be a kidney donor, but that I am also a blood & tissue match for Colin!

The chances of a non-relative loved one or friend being an organ match for a person in end-stage renal disease is next to minuscule. To put it in perspective, siblings only have a 25% chance of being a blood & tissue match for each other. To say that the universe was working some kind of cosmic magic when it placed Colin and I in each other's paths about 2 1/2 years ago just might be an understatement. 

Although I have always had myself listed as an organ donor on my driver's license in case the unthinkable would ever happen, I never once dreamed that I would one day become a living organ donor. And now before the end of this month, I will become just that to the man that I love and hope to spend decades with- a living kidney donor

The benefits of receiving a kidney from a living donor versus a deceased donor are many:

  • The wait time for a donor organ for a person with chronic kidney disease can be drastically reduced from years to months or mere weeks.
  • Most living donor kidneys will start functioning immediately once transplanted into the recipient, and they have less of a chance of rejecting a kidney from a living donor.

The surgery itself will be pretty routine for my part, and I have confidence and faith in the talented surgeons who will be handling our transplant surgery. The recovery process will be a little more daunting though as this is considered a major surgery. It may take us up to 6 weeks to become fully healed and normally functioning. In that meantime, we will be relying on the care and generosity of our family and loved ones while we rest up and heal together.

I have already had a handful of followers and friends asking how they can help out during our recovery period. Since we won't be up and moving much (or able to drive) for those first few weeks following the surgery, I have a feeling we will be leaning pretty heavily on DoorDash drivers to help us out. If you would like to donate to our DoorDash fund, you can do so via PayPal by CLICKING HERE  or by clicking the button below. You can also donate via Venmo by CLICKING ON THIS LINK.

Colin & I would both like to express our appreciation and gratitude for each and everyone of you that has and will be sending us healing vibes and prayers. If you would like to keep updated on our surgeries and recovery, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I will be sharing updates there to my stories and my feed. 

And if you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor yourself, you can CLICK HERE to find out more information about how you can get registered and evaluated by a local transplant team in your area.