The Adventures of Kidney Boy

A Journal About Living With End Stage Renal Disease. Dialysis. Transplants. Love. Family. Friends. The Unsung Donor. This is my life, from the end of a needle to the bottom of a pill bottle.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My New Kidney - Part II

.... So, on a normal Friday, I hung up the phone, having just been informed that I might be candidate for a kidney that had come in.   I was a bit stunned, but I called my wife, Jordan - she was at work, getting her morning report and getting ready to begin her shift.

"Honey, hey."

"Hey, honey, what is it?"

"Yeah, the transplant clinic called.  They might have a kidney for me."

"What?  Are you messing with me?"

"No, this is for real.  I'm heading up to the hospital now."

"Okay....ummm... come get me?"

"Sure, I'll drive by on the way."

We said our goodbyes, both dumbstruck, and I headed up to the hospital.  She worked at the VA hospital around the corner from Upstate, so I swung by - she was already outside.

"I just dropped the phone and said.... I gotta go.... Steve has a kidney....and the whole floor went nuts.....they told me to get going...."

We hugged, and headed to the parking garage.  We parked, and slowly walked into the building - we checked in and headed upstairs, to the Transplant Clinic.  Eventually, they put me in a room - and my nurse practitioner came in, and explained that they wanted to get some blood from me to do another cross match to ensure I was a match, and she also said that the head of the department and the staff of surgeons would be in to talk to me.

It was also explained to me that the kidney had come from a "High Risk" donor.  Apparently, it was from a young man who had died from an overdose of heroin.  Intravenous Drug use is a high risk behavior - so they were performing what is called an NAT test on the kidney - this ensures that the organ is viable, and doesn't contain any diseases such as Hepatitis C or HIV.  His blood was tested, and no sign of those diseases were present, but they could lay dormant in the organ.  The NAT test shortens the half-life, basically, so that it can be determined that the organ is safe.

The head of the department came in and explained all of this - I'm relaying this to you as best as I can remember, so the specific details may not be entirely correct, but this is as I understand it.  The risk is low, but they have to inform me of it.  She then said, on a personal note, that if she were in my position, she would take it.  The match was perfect, she said.  A lotto winner.

Jordan and I had discussed this possibility at length when I was on dialysis.  I looked at her, and she at me - we already knew what our answer would be.

"We've talked and thought about this very situation, and we both agree that we want to proceed," I told the Doctor.

She smiled and said "Okay.  Let's wait on the results of the NAT test, and we'll get back to you."

We did a few more tests to see how ready I was, physically, for the transplant.  They were satisfied - so we asked the Nurse Practitioner if we could go home to collect some things, and maybe do dialysis one last time to get me really clean and ready for surgery.  She agreed that it was a good idea - the results for the NAT test wouldn't be in till 11 or 12.... so we got into our truck, and headed home.

We were in a daze..... a kidney was in our reach!  This could be our miracle - we desperately needed it.  My health was slipping daily - I didn't know how much I could hold on.  The weight of being my caregiver had wracked Jordan as well.  We were both hanging on by a thread - but we had each other.

So, as we waited for the NAT results, I, in all my wisdom, decided to get the oil changed in the truck.

It needed it, and I was going to do it that day anyway.  So, there we were.  On Pins and Needles.  Get the oil changed and the brake light fixed in the car at Valvoline Instant Oil change.  We were waiting with baited breath, when my phone rang again.

"Mr. Alexander?  The NAT came back negative for all diseases.  We'd like to formally offer you the kidney."

My heart.... I literally felt it jump.  The tears welled in my eyes.  I told Jordan.  We held back shouting.... but the tears and hugs flowed freely in that little oil change garage.  We told the attendants we were leaving there to go get a kidney transplant.  The crew cheered for us - and we pulled out the garage.

We went home, did our last session of dialysis.  Jordan put the needles into my fistula, just like she'd done everyday for the past two years.  I'd spent a total of four and half years on dialysis this time.

It was the last time we did dialysis at home.

Later, that afternoon, I checked into the hospital.

I was wheeled into the OR that morning at 3:30 AM.

I awoke, several hours later - groggy, and I was greeted with a bag of urine that was attached to me.

I was never happier to see a bag of pee........



  1. Thanks for the continuation of the story -- what a far cry the tone in this entry is from those posted just a few short weeks ago. I'm sure this awesome change to your circumstances will give hope to your blog followers who are currently struggling with the hideousness of dialysis and kidney disease. I've witnessed the incredible change first hand, and I am overwhelmed with joy! Love you - Mom

  2. Sitting here reading this balling my eyes out so happy for you and Jordan. I know this will never be our fate, my husband has not even been able to get on the list, but knowing it really can and does happen makes me happy :) Good luck Steve and Jordan.

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