Great experience – Living kidney donor

If I could do this all over again, would I?Absolutely! The only thing I would do different  is worry less, not sure if that isMy brother Tim and I feasible. It’s been 13 days since my surgery and I can see my old-self. Yesterday, I walked about 1/2 mile or so once in the morning and once again at night. I walk like a turtle, but I am building stamina. It feels good.  I am beginning to focus on work and things I need to do.

I had my post-op exam today at Starzl transplant institute and  met with Angela the transplant coordinator, Sue and Dr. Tevar my surgion. I had an excellent experience with everyone that I was in contact with– at Starzl transplant institute, such a caring and professional staff – I love that they always took the time with me. Never in a hurry!

Tim’s surgery is tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 pm, I am nervous and excited for him. His kidney is going to be driven in from Philidelphia and brought directly to Tim while he is in surgery. It’s amazing how they do this.  I wonder how the donor is doing, if he felt as I did just two weeks ago… I would love to tell him it’s ok, it will hurt the first day and everyday is expediatialy better and that after just two weeks it will be a memory.  I would thank him for doing such a wonderful thing and grateful that his kidney was the exact match for my brother. I am praying all goes well for everyone!

Now that I have been enlighented, my wish is for everyone to consider being a donor. Whether it’s a icon on your license that says if something happens– you are willing to donate your organs.  I have seen first hand the families that wait for an organ that can save a child, a spouse, a loved one. It really can make a difference.

Donating a kidney or any organ is obviously a personal choice.  I would recommend it and I am grateful I was able to do this for my brother.  It takes time and when is it really the right time, as my earlier posts have indicated. However, these things are only a moment in our life, this too will pass. The lessons along with the gratitude I feel helps me move way past all of my personnal issues.

I can physically see the difference in my brother and his family, so much hope. Again I feel grateful.

Healing and thoughts – Living kidney donor (9)

The gift of being in a healing place is thought and time. My thoughts feel more open, less stories in my head to back up my old beliefs.  We go through our lives telling the same stories, sometimes we enhance these events in our lives so that we can maintain the anger, the sadness or distance.

My Mom has been a huge lesson for me. She came over from Utrecht, Holland after the war at the age of 18. My Oma (grandmother) brought at least six of her ten children to Canada to create a better life for them. Today we call this entrepreneurship. “one who undertakes innovation to transform for financial good”.

When my Mom first arrived in Edmonton, Canada she did not know the english language. It was difficult being a young expressive person trying to fit into a new culture. She quickly met my father, married and had her first four of six  children– in less than four years. She devoted all of herself to us kids, always keeping a part time job and working tirelessly to take care of us.  I love my Mother’s dutch accent, but for her it always made her feel separate.

My Mom is now 78 years old and recently moved across the country to California to be near my brother and sister. I believe she did this for an adventure, an opportunity to recreate herself and perhaps not get too comfortable. She walks two miles a day and manages her diabetes very well.

Often being the daughter we find fault in those we love. We look to create our own destiny, to do better, to know more.  At some point we stop striving and look at ourselves and those we love not by what we have accomplished, how much money we have or who we know – but about the relationships we share. 

Being number four of a busy family, I have not spent a lot of one-on-one time with my Mom. As far back as I can remember this is the first time that I have been in a position where I needed compassion, patience, love and understanding. My Mom has not let me down, she has been an angel and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be with her. She is an amazingly strong women that deserves nothing but respect.

I am proud to be her daughter. W

Day 9 – Healing, kidney donor

Today marks the ninth day since I donated my kidney through the National Kidney Registry so that my brother

Family dinner Tim, Emily, my Mom and Julie

Tim could receive a kidney. Tim’s surgery is this coming Thursday and I am so excited. I know that sounds strange, however I expect it to be successful and for Tim to no longer be on a dialysis machine every other day of his life. I am looking forward to my brother having a healthier life. 

For me, I actually feel pretty good. I have some pain in my stomach from the surgery and I get tired rather quickly. But that’s about it, everything is manageable. My only challenge is that I cannot pick up over 5lbs of anything for the next four weeks. This becomes more difficult as my health and energy improve.

I am still at the family house for another week and I have had plenty of company. My Mom has been with me since the surgery and has been an angel, she’s been so patient and kind.  I have a new appreciation for her! 

My brother Trevor and his wife Jeanne were visiting yesterday and we shared a large pasta dinner along with my brother Tim, his wife Julie and daughter Emily. Today my friend Mary Beth stopped in, we had a cup of tea and talked about our life.

I have seen a great deal of Tim, Julie and Emily this past week. It’s been really nice connecting and getting to know my niece better. She is so delightful and full of energy.  My brother Tim is amazing, so strong and has been through so much.

I am so grateful for my health, family and friends.


Compassion… Kidney donor

The kitchen at Family House is buzzing pretty much every evening. As families come in from spending the day at the hospital with a loved one, you can see emotion on their faces. A lady and her son are delighted since her husband has

My mom and guest at the family house

spent six hours today using his new lungs, they look for a little more time each day.  A couple from Israel are terribly worried about their 27 year old son who waits daily for a liver and lungs. They had lost his twin brother just two years ago to this disease and fought hard to get him into UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Apparently the transplant team is one of the best in the world.  A new person arrived today and her fourteen year old son is in the hospital also awaiting a transplant. So many stories and so much compassion.  At the family house we are all in this together.

I really liked this quote a friend posted on facebook. “Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

I have seen the Dali Lama speak about compassion and I am not sure if I understood it as well as I do now.  We as humans will find ourselves in a place of feeling weak, vulnerable, lonely and broken at some point(s) in our life.  I believe it’s true, we either flee from a situation or look for a quick cure or a fast answer.

Our society today is driven by looking good and being right, we have disposable clothing for the younger generation, quick fixes for diets and technology that keeps us anywhere but here in this present moment.  I believe we have lost a basic human right to respect one another.

My son Cory moved to Tokyo out of college January of this year and he’s been enchanted with the respect people have for each other in Japan.  No cutting in lines for the train, respecting each other’s place and therefore not treating yourself as though your time is more valuable.

It often feels that we don’t see each other–we whisked by each other and notice the visual elements that are interesting too us.  Personally, I believe we lack taking a moment to truly see the person we love, the parent that raised us or the child that needs us.  I feel families are the hardest on each other, the family dynamics that have been set in place since we were born often determine how we treat each other.  I mentioned in an earlier post that my position in my family was staying strong. What happens when I can no longer protect that part of myself due to health, age or situation?  Being vulnerable due to my surgery has definately been challenging but, also learning experience.

Are you a donor? Have you ever considered the families that wait for a lung, liver, heart, or other organs that could save their life?

The family house – kidney living donor

The family house is a non profit organization that offers housing/living services to patients and families from around the world. it’s a beautiful facility with an amazing kitchen to cook in, Not that I’m a great cook, but this kitchen is inspiring. Imagine several families all cooking and sharing their stories– it’s an amazing healing experience.

My mom from california, my brother Shane and sister in law Debbie from North Carolina and I, all shared a suite while I started recuperating from the surgery. I was released from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, just two days after the surgery.  The first night my brother Tim and his family stopped in. It was really nice, we all sat in the library together, it was clear we were all exhausted after the surgery.

Their are so many stories at the family house of people waiting or recovering from liver, pancreas, heart, lung and kidney transplants. I have met a women from Israel, a mother and daughter from Ecuador, families from all over the USA. They have sad, happy, and heroic stories.

One thing I know for sure is I am grateful to be in Pittsburgh and receiving treatment from such an amazing transplant team at UPMC.

My own Olympic events – kidney donor program

Day two after surgery the Dr’s and I (yes, me too) wanted me up and moving first thing in the morning. Personally, I had no idea how to do that. The surgery takes place in your stomach (your core) and I was in an immense amount of pain. The nurse instructed me on the best way to get up. It was difficult the first time, I completed the task under 30 minutes (getting out of bed).

I recall at one moment during the day, the nurse came in and looked me in the eye and asked “are you on narcotics”?  I looked at her slightly confused and said “are you referring prior to the surgery, then the answer is absolutly no”. “If you mean since yesterday, she would need to refer to my chart”. 

Me on day five of recovery at the family house

I came into the hospital very healthy and by the next day I felt utterly helpless. Its a strange feeling to be watching the clock throughout the day and night.  I spent those days watching and listening to everything around me.

Over the next two days I practiced walking further each day, sitting in a chair and getting in and out of the hospital bed. It became a game for me as I noticed my pain was decreasing as well as the time it took to do each task. I was down to getting out of bed under a minute by day three! It felt like I had my own Olympic games going on.

On day three I left the hospital and moved to the family house. It’s a wonderful facility that is owned (I believe) by UPMC (Univercity of Pittsburgh Medical Center) and just a couple blocks from the hospital where families can stay together while recuperating from a major surgery.

I am grateful for all the support I receive as I move through these transitions.


Surgery – kidney donor program

On Thursday august 16th At 4 am they took me down to prep with surgery scheduled at 5 am. It appeared I was the first surgery of the day. I was met by Kathy the OR nurse to prep and ask basic questions. Kathy was great, she was pulled out of bed at 2:00 am that same morning and asked to come in on her day off, she had a wonderful attitude and kept me comfortable. By 4:30 two additional drs, my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the anesthesia nurse came in. It was kind of cool, I felt like I was part of this elite team :). They were all following specific procedures before the surgery and were engaging and friendly. One of the procedures was to complete a final blood match with myself and the recipient in NYC the morning of the surgery, I thought that was pretty cool.

At one point I looked at the team and said “I wished they had given me the the relaxing medication hours earlier so I would have slept
that night”. I felt so relaxed….They all turned to look at me confused, they hadn’t given me anything. Lol

Once I was brought back to my room I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I was on oxygen, my breathing was shallow and I was still under the influence of the anesthesia. By the following morning I had felt much improvement!

It takes a family… kidney donor

It’s midnight in Pittsburgh, Pa. I’m frustrated the IV is not working and they need to redo it. Would love to get some sleep before they start pre-op at 4:00 am for a 5:00 am surgery.

What brings me back is thinking about my family. At times over the years I wished my family could work together in harmony. Like any large family we experience things differently, however at this moment unbeknown to all, we have come together as one. Every one of my siblings has participated in the process of pulling this all together. My sister Audrey who spent the night, supported my mom and got her safely to the airport. Trevor and Jeanne who are looking out for my mom on the east coast along with driving to and from Ohio for the surgeries. Ron who took care of the costs for my Mom traveling from California and Shane and Debbie who are driving in from North Carolina to support me throughout the duration of my recovery.

My mom who loves her children dearly and serves as the head of our family, Who always has each of our best interest at heart. She really is an amazing and strong women.

I am grateful for my family.

Good night. Wendy

new journey – Kidney Donor Program

I did something yesterday that had an extraordinary affect on me.  I went to a “Power Vinyasa Yoga” class at  breathe yoga in Pittsford. I have done yoga before, however it was nothing like this. I felt such a huge release emotionally and peaceful all day. I’ve been carrying so much stress around and felt like I had released it.  I slept well for the first time in a long time.

Today I am off on a new journey, I am going to UPMC in Pittsburgh. My surgery is early tomorrow morning and once this is done I can begin the healing process.  Their are eight of us in the exchange with my kidney traveling to NYC tomorrow and my brother will receive his kidney from Philadelphia, I am praying for everyone in the exchange to have successful surgery’s. Its amazing when you consider that four people will have new kidneys as result of this exchange. Presuming all goes well their quality of life will be greatly enhanced! I’m excited about that and it makes me feel good to be part of this.

My long time friend Barb is driving me to Pittsburgh. She said, “she is excited about the road trip”, she has told me this more than once. When we were merely 18 and 19 years old we had taken a road trip across the country– it was quite an adventure! Our road trip for the past two years consisted of a 100 mile bike ride to honor and raise awareness for missing children “Ride for missing children”.

Today I embark on a new journey!

Today’s quote Dalai Lama “Developing concern for others, thinking of them as part of us, brings self-confidence, reduces our sense of suspicion and mistrust, and enables us to develop a calm mind”.


Waves – Living kidney donor

Emotions are like waves we ride throughout our days. I’ve learned its important to realize that “this too will pass”.  When my life is in transition my emotions can be all over the place, by riding the wave I know it’s only temporary and only in this moment. When I look back at today it was both up and down. This morning I was at the bank finalizing an agreement I had made. For me it was an ending of something I built, a beginning of something new and letting go of what was. It was not easy.

However this afternoon was nice. My friend Barb stopped in and brought over a wonderful salad for us to share. We have been friends for over 30 years, however we lost touch for the past two decades as we raised our children and worked on our careers. Its been fun sharing stories both old and new.

The hospital called me this morning to let me know they got the results of my final cross match and NAT testing they said “everything looked good and the surgery was a go”. I hadn’t realized their was a question of whether it was a go? It’s fair to say I don’t understand all the testing along with the process of the donor program,  however it does fascinate me. They have also asked me to arrive at noon on Wednesday to do some additional blood work before checking into the hospital the same afternoon. I’m beginning to think the blood work is bothering me more than the surgery lol!

Life is like a wave ~ it’s a matter of taking in the moments and then moving on to what’s next….