After more than a year of searching for a living kidney donor and enduring five months on dialysis as a means to survive, I finally got the call from the UCLA Kidney Exchange Program with good news.
It was three days after my first Karaoke for Kidneys awareness event held on May 13, 2016, that I received word that I was going to be scheduled for a kidney transplant on June 7. I couldn’t believe that it was finally going to happen for me. Even after my long journey to getting to that point, however, I found myself feeling hesitant. I had low energy ever since my karaoke fundraiser, and I knew that in order to go through with a major surgery, everyone involved needed to be healthy. I went through with my pre-op appointment at UCLA, and, sure enough, after a routine chest x-ray, they found pneumonia. The scheduled transplant surgery date was immediately halted and ultimately scratched. I was completely devastated.
Luckily, just three months later, UCLA contacted me once again with a kidney donor match. This time around, it was an even better pairing, and my donor friend and I would be a part of a kidney chain that was started with an altruistic donor.
Both my friend and I had our surgeries on September, 28, 2016, with her donating a kidney to someone in Georgia and me receiving a kidney from someone in Colorado. This date for me will forever be a reminder to never give up, to always live life to the fullest, to be thankful for the amazing people in my life, and to continue raising awareness for kidney health and living transplantation.
As a result of the selflessness of all the donors involved in this paired kidney exchange, 11 people were given life-saving kidney transplants. This kidney chain was organized between hospitals in California, Georgia, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
I hope people use my experience as a reminder that you should never underestimate what you can do for others, whether it be raising awareness or giving the gift of life.
4∙1∙1 The author is hosting the second annual Karaoke for Kidneys to benefit the National Kidney Foundation on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at 7 p.m. at Dargan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (18 E. Ortega St.). See karaokeforkidneys.org. The National Kidney Foundation will also cohost a fundraiser screening of Going in Style and panel discussion at Paseo Nuevo (8 W. De la Guerra St.) at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25. Visit bit.ly/2nmsrJf.