My husband, John, had kidney disease, but he was lucky to be diagnosed long before 'end stage'. At 55 years old, John had 35 percent kidney function, and it was declining.
Luckily, we have an excellent local renal specialist. John was committed to following instructions and adapting to the ever diminishing dietary choices. He continued farming, surfing, refereeing rugby and going to the gym. Despite the expertise of the nephrologist and John's determination, it was hard watching the inevitable loss of energy, and the resulting shrinking of John's world, as one by one he was unable to continue doing the things he loved, and eating the things he loved to eat.
Luckily, when we started looking for a live donor, I was the first person tested - and I was a match! It was like an early Christmas present.
Making the decision to donate a kidney was easy. The hardest part of the process was waiting for the final decision to go ahead and use my kidney. In the second cross match some problems were discovered. The final delay, though, was because of the transplant team's great care for the health of the donors. I had to have extra tests to make sure that my health wasn't compromised by the operation. At all times I had ready access to support and information, and being a donor gave me a chance to feel really involved in John's recovery.
Many people feel that giving a piece of yourself away is daunting. I had no reservations. I have always regarded my physical body as machinery; not part of the intrinsic psychological, spiritual and intellectual 'Me'. I have only ever had positive experiences in hospital and the wonderful care and counselling of the transplant team and hospital staff made my operation another life adventure.
Luckily, John and I now have a whole new life of adventures ahead of us.
Luckily, we live in Australia, where all this is possible.