Tag Archives: Kidney Donor

Fearless…. Kidney donor

Tonight I felt frightened for the first time as long as I can remember. The day started really nice with a trip to the public market to pick up lots of fresh vegetables and to share a cup of coffee and conversation with my friend John. 

It was a beautiful day– after a long winter it’s pretty exciting when Spring truly arrives and most everyone in Rochester is outside and enjoying the weather. I had planned a long bike ride with my friend Kyle immediately following my trip to the market, so I had loaded up my road bike, my head gear and water bottle and headed to the lake to see my friend. I was excited about going on this ride, it had been almost a year since I had been on the bike. I wondered what kind of experience it would be for me today. In the past I had always shared these bike rides with a man I was in a relationship with and we had enjoyed the ride together talking about life, enjoying the views and we would challenge ourselves physically with speed and distance. Things changed and towards the end of our relationship these rides had become bitter between us and a place to argue and discuss our issues. 

So today was a new day and it felt exhilarating to be on the bike. Kyle and I rode hard along the river, over bridges, up and down hills and the sights were beautiful. We saw a swan sitting on her nest protecting her eggs, a boy scout troop, and many other riders on the path. We rode 20 miles and challenged ourselves with this first ride of the year. When we were done Kyle made a nice salad and we enjoyed some intesting conversation in her home on the lake.photo[1]

Afterwards, I stopped at Wegmans a local grocery store thinking I would stay in for the evening and enjoy a movie and just relax. I was tired and felt fulfilled after a busy productive day. That changed when my friends called and invited me to a fundraiser for the RPD, typically I would say no– but the new me is looking to be more adventures and say yes.  I was dressed and ready to go in 15 minutes.

When I arrived I was happy to see many friends that I had not seen in a long time; however within an hour I was dizzy and ready to collapse. I knew I was in trouble and wasn’t sure if I could move in fear of passing out, let alone drive home. I confided in my friend Shelly who escorted me to the ladies bathroom, she found a paramedic to see if I was OK – my pulse was low, my face was flushed and my skin clammy. I found steadier legs after sitting down in a quiet space for a while and drinking some cool water. I am not sure why this happened, was it the affect of the rigorous bike ride and perhaps I didn’t stay hydrated enough? Or could it be my creatinine levels from my kidney, what I do know is that I have found myself easily tired since the kidney donor surgery.

I felt frightened and alone, I realize it was nothing serious however moments like this can bring out unexpected fears.  For example; I have no family nearby,  who would be called if something serious happened? Would I no longer be able to push myself as hard as I used to?  Can I complete some of the goals I had set out to do this year, such as the 100 mile bike ride and the Tour De Cure ride? 

I know this too will pass. I find myself thinking about what others have to deal with and I feel embarrassed for giving this any power over me.  In the meantime I will continue to ride and build myself back up and definately look to stay hydrated during my workouts!


Best in human kindness – Kidney donor

This morning we gathered to celebrate living donors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC hosted by  Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation at UPMC.

Dr Humar who is Chief, Division of Transplantation Surgery Clinical Director talked about human kindness. I love those words “human kindness”.  I often refer to a letter by Vincent Van Gogh to his brother where he talks about creating art that shows human kindness and what that meant to him. For Van Gogh it was not about doing the popular thing to sell his art it was about being true to himself and painting what his eye saw in people and places.  Dr. Humar talked about the worst and the best in humans today. It comes at a time where so much tragedy and fear has affected our world, however we cannot forget the kindness of humans that will give part of themselves to others.  Whether its the gift of an organ, fighting for our country or the compassion we have for one another.

Dr. Tevar, Tim and I

Dr. Tevar, Tim and I

I was deeply touched today by a women who spoke about her family. When she married her husband 25 years ago he had kidney disease. They have three children together and each one of the children carry the same disease. She donated her kidney to her daughter in college  who otherwise would not survive and she is now looking for a kidney for her son. She desperately wishes she had more to give – for a mother to have to make a choice on which child to give her kidney to is  devastating. Her daughter was at today’s event and you would never know that just a year ago she was fighting for her life– for she looked beautiful and healthy.

A kidney is a second chance at life for many and I hope and pray they will find a kidney for her son along with many others who are waiting.

Tim and I saw Dr. Amit Tevar today! Dr. Tevar was both Tim’s and my surgeon during the kidney transplant and donation.  He is so friendly and kind and we had such a great experience, I thanked him for not just his surgical abilities but for being so genuine, so positive and good with all of us including my Mom the day of Tim’s surgery.

In listening to Dr. Humar open up today’s celebration talking about human kindness ~ I  feel grateful for my experience.

When I hear the stories about the hero’s,  the acts of kindness in Boston that transform us in the worst of times– I continue to believe in human kindness.



Six month check up – Kidney donor

I woke up in the middle of this night with a longing to write. It’s been a while since I have blogged, but yet I write often as I work on my book. My book’s working title is “Courage to Give”.  The book reflects both my experience in donating my kidney as well as others; several of the people that I have interviewed are from my chain.  You see since I was not a match for my brother, I became part of a chain of eight all donating our kidneys and therefore “linking” us together within two weeks last August. With my kidney going to NYC, my brother Tim’s kidney coming from Philadelphia,  etc.

Next week I have my six month check up at UPMC in Pittsburgh and while I am there I am planning on attending a donor reception in hopes of learning more about the process and experiences others have had.me

One thing in talking to other donor’s their is not enough information about what we go through, what to expect and how to take care of ourselves. The brochures and articles I have read from medical institutions say that we will be back to ourselves in just a couple of weeks; however that wasn’t the case for myself and others who have donated our kidneys. One thing we all agree on is that we are grateful for the opportunity to donate on behalf of a loved one. 

I am learning so much about myself through this process and one thing I know for sure is we are all in this together. Our thoughts and secrets only keep us separate from one another, when the reality is we all have our struggles and they are not so unique. Whether it’s financial, worthiness, shame, relationships, or just feeling alone in this world,  I have found that sharing with someone who has earned my trust  releases the weight of my thoughts and brings me closer to others.

Good night. Wendy

A new year and what have we done…. Kidney donor program

As John Lennon’s song goes “So this is Christmas And what have you done Another year over And a new one just begun” With a new year upon us I find myself reflecting on what I have done in 2012 and where I am going in 2013. Donating my kidney just four and half months ago left me feeling like I had done something remarkable in 2012. I helped my brother and potentially saved a life through the kidney donor program.  Holding on to that feeling of worthiness and gratitude would be beneficial, however I find myself gettingWendy November 2012 overwhelmed and lost in my own issues.

My sister Audrey and I discussed worthiness on the phone today. Do I feel worthy?  What is our passion? What are we meant to do with our lives? How do we find meaning?  To me it’s who we are in this world, each of us has the ability to be the change in the world we live in. We can support each other and choose to be compassionate to one another.  It’s not always easy particularly when we get caught up in our own lives! One thing I have learned in the past year is that we are all in this together.

It feels like the North East has got hit hard in the past two months. Starting with the disaster “Sandy” leaving so many people homeless, then the shooting of innocent children in Connecticut and the most recent shootings of the fireman in our own hometown. We can all recognize energy when a friend or family member is angry or sad –we feel it. I think of the sadness and the fear that affects so many of us in the past two months and its good to feel the heartfelt stories of communities coming together at this time.

And so we embark on a new year. For me– my goals are not to get caught up in my own fears and to live a life of gratitude and openness. To continue to do yoga, eat healthy, work hard, trust my instincts and let go of the negative thoughts in my head that often leave me feeling seperate from others.

Happy New Year! Cheers to a healthy and peaceful year in 2013.

Night Wendy

Standing on the edge…. 8 weeks since kidney donor

I must admit it’s been eight weeks since my surgery and I feel great! I have my energy back, I have no pain and am back to work. I suppose since my health has moved to a better place, its time for me to move on as well!

The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear” Rumi

The reality is I feel like I am standing on the edge of a cliff with my toes hanging over and not so sure if I want to dive in!

I like being in a place of healing, particularly since it means so much more to me than just the surgery, it includes moving past difficulties of this past year and taking what I’ve learned with me going forward.  However, I find myself afraid to make a move– you know when you have that sense like nothing feels right? I feel this  uneasiness that lies in my core– it’s uncomfortable and as I try to analyze it– I suddenly become aware…… If I dive in do I forget what I’ve learned, where I’ve been? Do I get caught up in my life and is it fear, do I have more painful lessons in front of me?  How do I take the step and hang on to me, to trust, not be afraid and dive into my life along with my full potential?

Like so many things in life … sometimes we get off track!

Perhaps its because I’m tired, perhaps it’s a text on my phone that pulls me and I give it too much power. And more importantly perhaps its my son who sits in a hotel room alone feeling sick from food poisoning.   I am so grateful he is now feeling well enough to get on a plane and go home.

Here I sit paying attention to my energy not wanting tonight to be in vain.  I find as I write this I feel better by the minute, my heart beats faster, my energy has picked up and my fingers move faster on the key board – it’s release.  By simply being aware of these feelings the intensity has dramatically subsided. I do feel better!

Can I reduce the anxiousness in me and find the joy? Will I take the dive into my life and go forward? Of course, it would be too painful to stay in the same place and not near as much fun!

Night Wendy

healing begins…. Living Kidney Donor

Wednesday morning Tim woke up in intensive care and was doing 100% better. I was so relieved and hadn’t realized what a toll it had taken on me both physically and mentally. They are expecting to move him to his room today.  I continue to have a “Disney experience” with UPMC, Starzl Implant Institute. Every time I called a nurse for an update on Tim in ICU– they took their time with me, were respectful and seemed to be really great with Tim. I am so appreciative!

It’s been three weeks since my surgery and this morning I woke up feeling more energized and with no pain– it’s an uplifting feeling.  It feels good to want to get things done and to be planning for what’s next, however I quickly realized I need rest in between. I recently read “the kidney is considered the seat of courage and willpower and any impairment will show as fear and paranoia“. Harmony healing. I am curious about that. I wonder what happens when people receive other peoples organs and in my case when an organ is removed. For me I know medically my kidney instantly enlarges and naturally takes on the function of both kidneys.

I have a business meeting this morning and am struggling with what to wear. For the past three weeks I have been wearing yoga pants and a t shirt simply because I don’t like any pressure on my stomach and that will have to to do for today’s meeting. I have lost a total of 16 pounds since May of this year mostly due to eating healthy and working out,  six of the pounds were lost since the surgery due to a smaller appetite.

Looking forward to the day.

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.


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. Www.familyhouse.org 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.