First, let me update you on how I am feeling. On Thursday, I wasn’t feeling much but happiness: happy that the operation was over, happy that I had visitors, happy that the kidney was working in its new home, happy that Craig helped me push the pain medicine button every six minutes. By Friday, the nursing staff reminded me that I had to get out of bed. With the help of my friend Julie and sister Kathleen, I was able to get up, walk three steps and then make it back to bed. The faces of my friends and family were a welcome distraction from the pain and discomfort. I received gifts from the hospital and transplant team. Two of my favorites are the kidney shaped lap pillow and a “Donate for Life” flag that is now flying beneath our American flag on our flagpole at home.
Friday evening, we were very surprised when my donor advocate informed us that the recipient and her family wanted to meet us. As part of the meeting, the hospital had their PR staff present and we were all interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirer. With cameras clicking, amidst a room full of family and the transplant team, the recipient and I were able to meet face to face. It was an emotional moment for all of us. The recipient, her sisters and her parents kept repeating, “Thank you!” I felt overwhelmed by the attention, but relieved to know that it was worth it. The recipient gave me a beautiful orchid that is now on the mantle of my fireplace at home.
Saturday morning I was given my discharge orders, and they began pulling the tubes out of different places on my body. Before I left, I wanted to say goodbye to the recipient. With Craig and Kathleen’s encouragement, I was able to walk to the recipient’s room (instead of using a wheelchair). It was nice to talk to her in a less hectic setting–the only other people present were Craig, Kathleen, and her mother. We exchanged some stories, along with our addresses and phone numbers. She asked me to send her a picture of my children. She said to me that she couldn’t understand why I would do this since I get nothing out of it. Now that I am at home, I will have plenty of time to reflect on how this has changed my life for the better–I will be writing a letter to the recipient to share all that I have received.