My Kidney Donation:
My kidney donation journey began back in the fall of 2020. A former colleague had asked a few of us to watch a video about her cousin who was in need of a donation. At the time, I had already known 3 people who had donated kidneys- one donated to a friend, one to a brother, and the other donated altruistically (to a stranger).
I was moved by the presentation and made a follow-up call to get a little more information. While speaking with a representative from an organization assisting the gentleman needing a kidney, I realized that it wasn’t a great time for me to pursue this. My daughter was starting her second year of her Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Delaware and that was what she needed to be focused on…. Not worrying about me.
Kept seeing articles about kidney donations…
Over the course of the ensuing year, I kept seeing articles about kidney donation as well as pieces on TV. I continued to think about it and at the end of 2021, I asked my daughter if it was okay with her for me to pursue a donation. She was completely on board.
The gentleman whose story I had watched on the video had just received news that they had found a donor for him, so I was going to look into donation options. During this time, I realized that one of the things drawing me to donating was how wonderful it would be to help someone who so desperately wanted to live …and to live a normal life without dialysis and other restrictions. My mother died by suicide in 1990 and my father died of suicide as well in 2016. They were unable to be helped to continue to live.
Now, I had an opportunity to help someone.
My daughter emailed me an article about someone needing a kidney. If interested, all I had to do was complete a form and email it to Montefiore Hospital. I immediately did that and received a call the next day letting me know that that individual would be hard to match. “He’s a stranger to me, so it really doesn’t matter who I donate to. I just want to donate,” I said.
On April 5th, I went to Montefiore for a whole day of testing and to meet with a Nephrologist. The following week, I had a psychological eval. A week later I was told that all my labs were good and that my case would be discussed the following week to determine if I was a good candidate.
Waiting for the call was torture!
But I got the call and was approved! For those who don’t know, The recipient’s insurance company pays all medical expenses for the donor.
I had my surgery on May 25. I stayed 2 nights in the hospital (although I was given the choice of going home after one night). My recovery was great. I did have nausea and a lack of appetite for 2 ½ weeks and some discomfort the first two weeks, but, those weeks went quickly.
Walking was strongly encouraged as soon as I was discharged. At 4 weeks, I started back to running… very slowly! Not long after, I also started to cycle and swim. After 3 ½-4 weeks, I was able to honestly say that my body didn’t feel like it had been through surgery.
This experience has also made me feel much more at peace. It’s really hard to describe. I have been lucky as I learned, a few weeks before my surgery, that a fellow running club member was about to have her surgery. We have remained in touch ever since!
Now, 13 weeks out, I can say that I feel great, have no lingering effects, and there are barely any restrictions. One- I can no longer take any NSAIDs (like Advil), I just need to always drink a lot of water and not eat a lot of red meat (which I hardly ever do anyway!
Best news- I am scheduled to meet my recipient this coming week!
I’d be happy to further discuss the process if anyone has any questions.
Mindy Davidson is a runner, triathlete, and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at the Nassau BOCES Rosemary Kennedy School. She is the Vice President of and Race Director for the Greater Long Island Running Club and serves on the Board of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention-Long Island Chapter. Mindy has a 25-year-old daughter and lives in Long Island. You can reach her at [email protected].