BECKY MILLER (Living Donor)
Thirteen years ago, my dad became ill very suddenly; even the medical professionals weren’t sure what was wrong. Several months and many tests later, we learned that he was in renal failure and needed dialysis every other day for 4-6 hours a day.
At that time, it was the only option available to him, or so I thought. But then I learned that a living person could donate a kidney and still live a perfectly healthy life. (We’re born with 4-5 times the amount of kidney functioning we need. In fact, 1 out of every 750 perfectly healthy people is born with only one kidney.)
As I read and learned more, I decided to be tested to see if I was a potential donor. I didn't tell him I was getting tested; I just did it on my own.
Several weeks later, I got a call from the hospital saying that I would be a great match for him! So I told my dad and decided to give him the gift of life.
The hospital told me that the hospital where the transplant would be performed would call when they were ready for us to have the surgery. I waited for days and days. Then suddenly one day I got the call from the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, and they said that the surgery was scheduled to take place in 3 days! (Editor’s note: This is not usually the case.)
I couldn't believe this was all finally going to happen and yes, I was frightened to death! The night before surgery, it hit me and I got really scared, but I knew it was what I wanted to do.
Only my dad and I were there at the hospital . . . no one else. I remember tearfully calling my mom because I was so afraid. Still, I wanted to do it. I think the fact that an organ could be removed from me and save my dad's life without my dying was just so amazing that it was scary to believe! All I wanted was for my dad to be healthy, live a dialysis-free life, and have the energy to once again do the things he loved.
I was only 20 years old when I donated on March 11th, 2003. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years already! Although my dad did eventually have to go back on dialysis, he lived happily and healthfully without it for 3 years. Unfortunately, I lost my him December 4, 2011, but never will I forget the joy of giving him the gift of life! If I had it to do over again I most certainly would.
People sometimes wonder whether I would still have donated if I’d known he would lose the kidney in 3 years. The answer is yes, by all means! For 3 entire years, he was happy and felt well: He had the energy to garden, go fishing, hunting, 4-wheeling, and do everything he did before he got sick.
And, I am every bit the same person I was before donating. There’s nothing I did before that I can’t do now, I take no medications, and I have no medical or health problems.
Be a donor today if you can . . .share your spare! I did, and I wouldn’t change a thing!