Tag Archives: UPMC in Pittsburgh PA

Memorial Day Weekend – Living donor

This Memorial weekend I went to Pittsburgh PA to visit my brother Tim and his family.  Last year I had done the same with Emily’s upcoming birthday and her dance recital its a good weekend to visit. So much has changed since last year Tim is no longer on dialysis since he received his new kidney on August 30 of last year!  Aside from the improvement in Tim’s health his personality is coming through. I can remember last year’s visit– he was quiet and would often just sit their with little to say feeling exhausted and sick. Tim would never complain, but you could see it in his body language, he was spending three days a week in dialysis and had been ill for a long time. To me, Tim had seemed depressed and perhaps hopeless however I do remember seeing the joy and pride in Tim’s face as he watched his daughter in last year’s recital.

Tim and Emily before the dance recital!

Tim and Emily before the dance recital!

During this time, I was determined to help my brother and I was going through the tests to become an organ donor. It turned out I was not a match and was entered into the NKR (National Kidney Registry).  Within 24 hours of being added into the database they found a match and their were eight of us in the paired exchange.  

What a difference a year can make! Tim is alert, determined and always has something to say. His health has improved tremendously although he still has a ways to go, it takes time to get used to the medications and rebuild strength after such a long illness.

Many people are waiting to hear good news and my wish for you is to always do your best including; eating healthy, exercise and don’t ever give up! Share your story and ask for help we are all in this together.

Today is Memorial day and I dedicate this post to my brother Tim who served in the US ARMY along with the many men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you!

Grateful for change.


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.

broken – Living Kidney Donor

Tim is still in intensive care, we are not completely sure what is going on. His kidney is responding better each day, however it’s not completely functional. Tim is in a confused state, they have him in ICU and strapped to the bed; when he is awake he wants to go home and remove his IV’s… They have ruled out uremia (thank god) and his infection seems to be clearing up. The transplant team is testing him for everything, however they believe his medications have simply not filtered through his body – therefore resulting in access of medications since his surgery.

For me I  feel shattered, I have always had a picture of what my life will look like. Now I see a broken image, I suppose this is because of all the changes that have impacted my life this year.  I feel exhausted mainly because of my own surgery along with worrying for Tim.  It feels odd where almost three weeks ago I was running a few miles a day and today I am walking slowly around the block in my neighborhood (which isn’t very far).  At night I am sore and get up often to stretch and walk around the house. I am eating healthy and juicing daily to build up my energy!

It sounds like I am feeling sorry for myself, I do have many good things going on; I am making new plans for my business which is exciting. I spoke to my son Juliun and will see him and Natalie in Los Angeles on Saturday.  I will see my younger son the following week, I do miss my children they both live so far away. We raised them to think big and see the world and they are doing exactly that ~ I am so proud of them.

For me I am praying that tomorrow Tim will be out of ICU and back in his room recovering. I will need to be more patient with myself and get the rest I need and realize that I have a lot of freedom in my future, I can can create my own path from scratch.

I am so grateful for my family and friends.  My friend Carol made me this awesome stew and chicken soup that I eat daily.  I have received so much love and support from friends and family through all of this.

Throughout this process, I have posted on facebook a request to send prayers and thoughts Tim’s way. I really do believe the more positive energy sent Tim’s way the better.

Good night. w

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

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.

Kidney Donor

A year ago my brother called me regarding his health, he found out his kidney’s were failing. It was only a matter of months before he would be on dialysis.  For years Tim’s health had been failing due to diabetes.  I come from a family of six children where diabetes is prevalent; according to data from the National Diabetes in 2011 a total of 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes. However another 70 million people are “prediabetes”.  That’s about 12% of our population.

Tim is my eldest brother who is married,  they have a beautiful 10 year old daughter.  Tim has saved my life twice. Once when I dove off a raft into a lake Ontario as a child and came up gasping for air. Tim saw me from the shore and immediately swam out to save me, he arrived just as I had given up and was going under. The second time I was in a barn fire around 12 years of age.

It was a fairly easy decision for me to donate my kidney, I figured it would cost me surgery and four weeks of recuperation in exchange for saving a life. I immediately went to my doctor and requested a physical along with determining my blood type. I was disappointed to find out my blood type was different and therefore not a match. A friend of mine told me about the National Kidney exchange program. When I called the Clinical Transplant Coordinator at UPMC in Pittsburgh PA and begin the rigorous process of determining whether I was completely healthy to donate.

I am donating my kidney next week on the 16th of August. I am planning to write about my experienceMy brother Tim and I leading up to the donation and then after the surgery in hopes of sharing my story with others who are considering this process.