Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Father, My Sister, My Uncle, My Heroes

I know, I know. I start building up to that 200th post, I'm soon to be on vacation, and I disappear for 2 days. I don't usually dig deeply into my personal life, but this story deserves to be told.

My Uncle Ken (mother's side), a Viet Nam veteran, has been on dialysis for 8 years due to two failed kidneys. If you've ever had a relative who has had to go through dialysis, it's a sad, slow disintegration of hope and health and quality of life.

About a year and a half ago, my father started talking about and then quickly going through the testing to see if he was the proper match to donate to Ken. He was not, but was able to locate a paired donation program. This is where my father and uncle do not match, but they enter a pool of many other donor/recipient pairs that might fit. If it works out, my father would donate to a stranger and that person's friend/family member donates to my uncle.

After a year and no luck, about 4 months ago, my youngest sister had an inkling, a calling to throw her hat into the ring to see if she would be a match for Ken. They quickly found that she was a perfect match.

Fast forward to Tuesday, September 11th, 2007. My sister went into surgery early in the morning, soon followed by my uncle. A few hours later, my father was wheeled in for his own donation to a an anonymous recipient. After 17 hours in the hospital, all three had been moved through recovery and into their respective rooms. Both donations had gone off without a hitch, and the doctors said that as soon as my sister's kidney was hooked up to my uncle, it quickly turned pink and started producing urine on the operating table. And that's about as good as it gets.

Yesterday my father and sister were up and walking despite the normal post-op pain. Ken will be a little longer to heal, but all indications are pointing to initial success.

It's not just talk. And I couldn't be prouder.

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