I was working as a regional donor coordinator for four years when my dad was diagnosed with end stage kidney failure secondary to undiagnosed cardiomyopathy.
My dad was a farmer and was used to working 15 hours a day. To see him on dialysis and the restrictions to his life, gave me new found respect for people on dialysis.
Two heart surgeries and two years later, my dad received a call that there was a kidney available. After the initial excitement, my parents and I became very emotional, knowing while we were celebrating there was a family going through one of the worst days of their life.
Dad's surgery was uncomplicated, but five days later his condition deteriorated. He was admitted into the intensive care unit with high temperatures and decreasing renal function. My dad's diagnosis of Adeno Virus did not give us any comfort as his prognosis was bleak but miraculously he survived and so did his new kidney. Dad has named his kidney Sidney, after his 80 year old neighbour who works like a Trojan. We celebrate two birthdays a year-one for dad and one for Sidney.
Dad has resumed being an active member of the community and is a fantastic 'papa' to his grandchildren. Our family is eternally grateful to the donor and donor family.
On a personal note, this experience has given me a richer insight to families with loved ones who have organ failure; the mixed emotions of receiving a transplant and the difficulty of putting pen to paper to thank the donor family.
This first-hand knowledge has helped me when speaking to a donor family-having gone through the process I have the utmost faith in the people and the process of organ and tissue donation and the benefits that it can bring.