In November two significant things are happening. I turn 50, and it is the fifth anniversary of my kidney transplant. I am acknowledging these special events by writing my story for the DonateLife Book of Life.
At 33 I was unexpectedly diagnosed with renal disease. I was a working woman, a wife and a mother of two young children. What started with fluid on my legs ended with a kidney biopsy, a diagnosis of renal disease and an uncertain future. My treatment was pills, chemotherapy and attitude, as I was too busy to be dealing with renal disease.
I went into remission and when the disease would flare up, my specialist would fight with more chemo and more drugs. We travelled this path for 12 years knowing that a transplant would be our final destination.
People knew I had kidney disease and would amaze me with offers of a kidney when I needed one. Family, friends, work colleagues - many very generous offers.
Of all the people who had offered a kidney, I felt one was in the right space, had come from the right place and I
knew would probably do it if at all possible. So I rang my friend and asked her if she was serious with her offer - she said, absolutely.
We went into 'transplant mode' and amazingly we were reasonably compatible for being unrelated, hitting three markers. The rest could be taken care of with drugs.
My husband, girlfriend and I all drove to Sydney for my transplant surgery and it was hugely successful.
Five years on, my girlfriend is well and running half marathons and I am well, happy, healthy and thankful. Every day I am thankful.
I am thankful to my husband, children, family and friends for their love and support, to my specialist for his knowledge and expertise, to the transplant team and the staff for their expertise and care, and to other medical professionals involved over the years. Most especially, I am thankful to a friend who gave me a gift and the opportunity to have quality of life.