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How I Saved My Father’s Life Part 1

Girl standing on the beach laughing and showing her scars from kidney donation, saving her father's life.

Back in 2014, my family found out some awful news that changed our lives forever. My father was diagnosed with renal kidney failure. We didn’t know what to think or what to say. There were many tears shed in that doctor’s office that day.

Ever since I was little I was always a daddy’s girl. I’m an only child and my parents have tried to give me everything I could ever ask for. They are truly the best parents a child could ever ask for and I knew someday I wanted to repay them. But I just didn’t know how.

When we found out the news in the doctor’s office, I burst into tears. I thought I was going to lose my dad. I didn’t know what to do. I was 13 years old fresh into high school and I felt helpless. We found out he was in stage 4, so he did not need dialysis just yet. The doctors told us he would need it in about 3-5 years. So we planned and started to prepare and hoped that he didn’t get worse quickly.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen. He did get worse. About a year later, he was admitted into the hospital for some complications that shut his kidneys down. While he was in the hospital, he had to go on dialysis. The doctors told us that his blood type is hard to match, so he would be waiting on the transplant list for 7-10 years. But he would need a kidney WAYYY before that in order for him to live. So waiting for a transplant was just not an option.

Several years later — I was 18 years old at the time and said that I wanted to donate to him. Dad wouldn’t have it. I mean who could blame him; he didn’t want his only child to do a major surgery for him. But I went to get tested anyway, and turns out I wasn’t a match. So we just had to wait. There was nothing else to do but wait for a kidney to come to him since he was on the transplant list.

A few years passed and my dad kept getting worse. I felt like I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. I went to the Kidney Transplant Center and tried to find out options. It turns out there was a way for dad to get a kidney.

It’s called a domino surgery. This is where someone donates their kidney to a complete stranger so that a loved one will receive one from another stranger. It is a chain. There could be 4 people in a chain or 20. It all depends. This would give my dad a kidney within a year instead of waiting for one on the long transplant list.

I went to my dad and he said no probably a thousand times. It took months of convincing him. Since I am super stubborn and wouldn’t take no for an answer, he finally said YES!!!

This process took about 1 full year. My dad and I had to go through many tests, both physical and mental. Many tubes of blood were drawn, CT scans were taken, and I took a test to make sure I was sane enough to donate!  

Finally in January of 2018, WE WERE OFFICIALLY ACTIVE. This means that we were waiting for a stranger’s kidney to match my dad’s and my kidney to match a totally different stranger. It took about 1 month and 2 weeks for the transplant center to find us a chain!! 

I got the call first and I dropped to the floor crying (happy tears of course and tears of relief). After I got off the phone, I think I just sat there for 10 minutes crying my eyes out. Thank god I was home alone so no one could see me ugly cry! After I pulled myself together, I called my dad. He didn’t cry.. Which was lame.. But he definitely was happy. 

We then started to call family one by one and tell them the good news. But we were still hesitant because this chain could break at any moment. If one person backs out, then no one gets a kidney. 

I did announce on Instagram and Facebook that my dad and I were active, but we did not announce that we found a chain. We didn’t want to jinx anything and we felt that only family and close friends needed to know about the surgery date. After the surgery, we announced the good news that it happened. 

The surgery date was February 27th, 2018.

My dad and I were both in the hospital for less than a week. Recovery was not easy at all. You truly don’t know how much you use your stomach until you cannot use it. I could barely walk, sit up, laugh, eat. It was crazy difficult. I couldn’t lift anything that weighed more than a gallon of milk for almost 5 months. 

When we were home from the hospital, both my father and I took a full month off of work. What really sucked was that my 21st birthday was March 9th 2018. So that put me at 10 days post op and only 3 days home. Yep.. nothing really exciting happened that day. But we did go out to Mexican that night and dad and I shared our first drink together which was awesome. Since he was sick he wasn’t allowed to drink any alcohol, so now after the surgery he could drink a little to celebrate with me!

Fast forward to over a year and a half later, dad and I are doing PERFECT! We are both healthy and happy. Most importantly, we are grateful to live another day. 

I feel like I have so much more to say about my donation story. So I am making this a 2 part blog series. Part 2 is going to be about how I have changed lifestyle habits and how I am affected today. Stay tuned!

xoxo,
Katlyn

To continue reading my story, please click here for part 2!



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