Living life every day
Transplant Recipient, Minnesota
I was diagnosed with diabetes at 17. This was a tough time as I was preparing to venture out on my own and I struggled controlling the disease. After about 26 years, and all of the complications associated with diabetes, I was told that my kidneys were failing and I qualified for both a kidney and pancreas transplant. I was put on the kidney/pancreas combo list while we looked for a kidney donor. Luckily a number of family members were willing to be tested. I ended up on dialysis for three months before my brother was identified as a match. A date was set in April, 2001 for the kidney transplant. Waiting was stressful and I did my best to stay healthy.
Celebrating my transplant day is like my birthday, but I remember the family who is mourning that day.
Imagine the surprise when the phone rang one Sunday night in March and a doctor said that there was an organ available for me. There was a bit of confusion as we sorted out with the doctor that it was only the pancreas. I had been moved to the pancreas-only list. The doctor said if my brother could come to the hospital that night, they’d do both at once. We had an hour to get things arranged or the pancreas would go to the next person on the list. Many things aligned that night: I was able to reach my brother; he was able to reach his boss and get permission to go early; my mother-in-law happened to be visiting so we had child care. I was only the third or fourth person to get a simultaneous transplant from a living-related donor and a deceased donor.
Since the transplant, I have been able to live a normal, insulin-free life. I’ve seen my twins graduate from high school and college and move into adulthood. I’ve participated in all of the US Transplant Games since 2004, competing in track, swimming, 5K, and volleyball. I’ve even managed to win a few medals for the team. I’m actually planning my retirement with my wife, something I didn’t think I’d reach before transplant.
Glad to be able to thank all donors - Paul