It was ANZAC Day 2001 when I was rushed to hospital with agonising pain in my right flank. After some tests the emergency doctor informed me that I had polycystic kidney disease (PKD). This was what had eventually killed my grandmother, father and his three sisters. I was devastated and felt like I had been given a death promise.
On returning home I was monitored very closely for the next seven years, then it was decided that I simply couldn't hold off any longer and needed to go onto peritoneal dialysis. That became a bit of a nightmare for me. My diaphragm was perforated and the fluid was leaking into my lungs. The doctors decided to perform a pleurodesis which basically glued up my lungs and stopped the leakage.
The procedure worked well and I continued with my work thanks to the exceptional support from my new employer. I dialysed four times a day and did one of the exchanges during my lunch break in a quiet corner of the lunchroom. My husband, and then one of his sisters, tried to be a donor for me but both were ruled out through medical reasons of their own. If it hadn't been for the stringent testing they went through they wouldn't have known about these problems.
My younger sister in the meantime received a kidney from her husband and my older sister had also commenced PD. There are about 20 other members in our family who also have PKD so the hope of any relatives being donors was almost nil.
I was put on 'the transplant waiting list' and received a phone call at 11:30pm one night to say that there was a kidney available.
Did I want it? Did I what! How lucky was I? I recovered so quickly I was amazed - as were the staff at the hospital. I was discharged on the fifth day after the transplant.
I cannot thank the donor or their family enough for the gift they have given me. To those who are waiting, don't stop praying - it will happen.