KK and CT Kidney Transplant

Hi, I'm KK and my wife is CT (she's not into forums; I am). We live in Singapore. What I call our kidney journey started with a jolt, with her waking up one Saturday morning in August 2010 with shallow breathing, swollen feet and legs, and slight giddiness. We made a trip to the family doctor, who ruled out a viral infection, ordered a blood test, prescribed medicine to lower her blood pressure, and said to wait for a call when the test results came back in a couple days. I had noticed the worried look on the doc's face and had hoped to myself that it was just hypertension (both her parents have it).

Three days later, the clinic called to say the results were back and for us to come in quickly. The doc went through the results with us, made a prelim diagnosis of kidney failure, and said it was best to go to head to the emergency department as soon as possible. Luckily, Singapore being such a tiny country (you can drive around it in less than 4 hours), we made it to the A&E Department of Singapore General Hospital in 20 minutes. There, the docs put her through a series of tests, put her on drips, and said she'd need to be admitted. More tests were performed that day and in the days that followed, after which we were told the news: She had end-stage kidney failure, with only 8% function left in her kidneys, and the chance of the kidneys recovering on their own (with the help of medicines) was close to zero.

What followed was 6 months of hemodialysis (3 times a week, 4 hours each session), during which potential donors were briefed by the hospital's transplant unit on the transplant process, surgical procedures, and such. I was first on the list, followed by her youngest sister, her younger sister, my eldest brother, my eldest sister, and her cousin. My mum (then 80 years old, Dad had passed away 2 months before all this happened) volunteered hers, too, but didn't qualify as a potential donor because she has high blood pressure and is diabetic.

My being in the list was an achievement in itself as I had Stage 3 nose cancer 15 years before that and was de facto considered an unsuitable donor of organs and even blood. After my oncologist had given his opinion that I was physically suitable as a donor, I went through the initial tests (blood, urine, 24-hour blood pressure monitoring) and cleared them. At the review with the medical transplant team, though, I was told that even though I had been cancer-free for 15 years already, there was a risk of cancerous cells still lying dormant in my kidneys and that the immunosuppressant drugs my wife will need to take the rest of her life might trigger a reactivation of those cells.

With me knocked off the list, her youngest sister (she lives in Malaysia, which is an hour away by air) stepped up to the plate. As per protocol, she was interviewed by a lay panel, a social worker and a psychologist. Then came the usual tests and the tissue match. Thankfully, the latter came in 6:6 and that provided some cheer. The transplant surgery itself was performed early March 2011 after two days of prep work for my wife. All went well for the sisters and there were no complications. The transplanted kidney kicked in almost immediately and my wife was discharged 7 days after the surgery. Her sis was discharged after just 3 days, and spent another week resting at our place before her husband drove her back home (didn't want the risk of a hard airplane landing).

So that's our story. Two survivors who stared Death in the face and said, "No! Not yet!" She's now out 17 months and the drug dosages have been reduced accordingly (less facial hair, not so cranky). Did bone density and cardiac tests this past fortnights and the results came back ok. I gathered a lot of useful information from fellow members both pre- and post-transplant. For that, a very big thank you from us and our kid :)