My Transplant, In A Nut Shell By: Steve Wright
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 9 yrs old. When I was in my mid 20's I started experiencing different signs of oncoming health issues caused from the diabetes. I was 29 when I was told that my kidney function was very low and that I would be on kidney dialysis within the year. After 8 years of being on dialysis, the first five of which were spent living in a nursing home, and 44 surgeries to keep me on dialysis, I finally received a double transplant of a kidney and pancreas in 2010. I got my transplant after listening for several years to doctors who told me that it would never happen because of my having a high antibody level due to many blood transfusions from all of my surgeries. I couldn't give up and I knew that my living or dying wasn't up to the doctors or even myself; It’s God who decides when my time is up. I had accepted that death could come anytime and I had no problem with It, there were times that I’d actually hope for it. I knew that death is merely a part of life and that eventually it comes to all. I didn't want to die but I was alright with it and didn't fear it due to my faith in God and knowing what would come after this life was over. It was God's call as far as I was concerned and He would decide my fate. My Nephrologist came to me one day during dialysis and told me that I was going to have to be taken off of dialysis due to having no more accessible veins to use for dialysis treatments. My last access, a HERO graft, was used as a last resort, it’s made for patients who have little to no vascular system left due to damage caused from diabetes and dialysis. This last access failed and clotted, leading to one more surgery to have it removed from my chest and arm. I was using a temporary split ash catheter from that point on. My doctor wouldn't allow me to use it for more than 6 weeks though, due to infection risks. I was at my ropes end; I had used pretty much every option as far as dialysis accesses and the forms of dialysis as well. I was told I'd be taken off of dialysis within two weeks.
I got my miracle call from my transplant center a week later. Once I arrived at my transplant center they prepared me for the surgery and then while they were wheeling me into the operating room I had the chance to talk to my surgeon for a brief couple of minutes. I asked him why this transplant would work while the four prior donor organs that I'd been called in to receive where given to other patients because my antibody level was too high. The surgeon told me that the donor had a high antigen level and that it would counter act my antibody level. He told me that a young man, only 20 years old, had been in an accident and that I was receiving his pancreas and kidney. My surgeon then told me how uncommon it is that a person in my position would get organs coming from a perfect donor who matched up in every way, plus having the antigens I needed to keep my body from rejecting the transplant.
I then began to think of my donor and how selflessly he decided, at such a young age, to donate his organs so that others could live. I felt awful thinking about this young man's death and knowing that due to his short life mine would be extended. He was almost half my age and he had never really been given the opportunity to live life and see his dreams fulfilled. It's only another transplant recipient who can fully understand the way it feels once you've finally come to the realization that someone had to give their life in order for us recipients to have our second chance at life. The happiness of living, the appreciation of a second chance and still the sorrow within, makes it hard to express the gratitude that's felt in a way that anyone else could really relate to or even understand. It’s difficult to show your happiness while knowing that somewhere there is a family grieving the loss of a loved one who has just saved your life. Organ donors are true heroes. It’s in their death that several lives are saved.
I had a very successful transplant, the surgery took five and a half hours and my surgeon told my family and later myself that my new organs where already working before they ever even closed me up. I had to be reopened the following day due to internal bleeding, however that was the only issue that I had to deal with during my transplant experience. I spent one month in a hospitality house outside of the hospital and was then released to come home. Once I was home I had a very quick and successful recovery and have had no issues with side effects caused by my anti rejection medications and all of my labs run perfect numbers. It's been almost 2 years since my transplant and I've experienced no issues with my new organs as of yet and I'm still going strong. I thank my unselfish donor and my God for bringing me through all I've had to go through as well as for teaching me all I’ve learned from the experiences that led me to the point I've come to in my life. I also appreciate and am thankful for all of the care providers, friends and family who helped keep me healthy enough to make it to my time of transplantation.
My transplant not only changed my life, it gave me a life. My transplant is my second chance at life, a second chance that I don't take lightly. I live life to the fullest but refuse to waste time on things that are of no depth which lead to nothing but drama and stress. I live to honor God as well as my donor’s gift of life. I owe both God and my donor too much to risk wasting this second chance living a life that isn't worth living.
My transplant changed a lot of things for me. It changed my perspective on life and death and the appreciation of the fact that for me to be alive today, someone else had to die. I put too much value on the wrong things in my life before my health failed, however now that I've had my transplant I see that the most important aspect is to focus my values on living a more appreciative and productive life. As I said, donors are true heroes, everyone can be one of these heroes and there are many of them needed so please choose to be a hero and save the lives of others. Give someone a second chance and donate life!!!!