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Love and Kidney Compatibility

By Karen

I still remember the first time my now husband took me out for dinner. He rolled up his sleeve to show me his “buzzing” arm. Despite being in a medical field, I had never seen a fistula before and didn't know that these were essential for someone to perform haemodialysis. He said this was a line he had used before: “Do you want to feel my vibrating arm?”, but to me it seemed like a less confronting way for him to tell me about his ongoing health concerns. At this point he told me a little about his previous kidney history and what was expected in his future.

As we got to know each other better, he told me all about his failed transplant years earlier and other operations he had needed along the way. Each time saying that it was all stable and nothing to worry about. He never seemed concerned so I tended to follow his lead. 

After we had known each other for about a year, his kidney function started to deteriorate. His mother had been tested previously for donation so we assumed that this could happen and we may be able to avoid dialysis all together. I had thought about putting my hand up as a live donor, but with his mum willing to donate and knowing the kidney doesn't last forever, we thought we might need mine later on. Organ donation was not new to me as in my last year of high school my uncle received the amazing gift of a heart transplant, which still continues strongly today.

When they ruled out David's mum as a possible live donor, I broached the subject with David. Initially he dismissed it, but I was insistent we find out if it was an option. That started a 12 month journey of specialists and tests to work out whether it would affect my health and if we were in fact as compatible with kidneys as we seemed to be in our relationship. This was a very stressful and trying time, which I do understand was important, but certainly I feel if we hadn't been as committed to each other and determined to get past dialysis and continue living our life it would have been easy to pull out of the process. Eventually all the tests results were positive and we were told we could set a date.

So after arranging for my mum to come from Queensland to look after our 4 year old son we set a date. 

At this stage I was a little scared, but my primary motivation was to help get David back on track, and stop the immediate need for dialysis. We knew that my kidney is probably not going to be a lifelong solution, but we hoped a transplant would give us a few years to continue our relationship, (which was only 2 years old at the point of donation), travel and hopefully spend our life together. 

Exactly 2 years to the day after we met we were admitted to hospital and had the surgery the next day. The surgery was an immediate success, with my little kidney settling in and working well from the start. It was quite a painful procedure for me, not having had any surgery previously, so my recovery was a little slower than anticipated, but in no way made me regret what had just happened.

Fast forward 2 years and we have celebrated our second “transplantiversary”. David has had a few issues over the last 6 months but they seem to have settled and things are going fine. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary last September, so we have stayed as compatible as the little kidney.