Here’s what’s going on with me. . .
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year. I’ve attempted to write this post many times, thought about it for months. You would think I would know exactly what to say by now. The difficulty is that I have information that I need to share, but there is a lot of emotion tied up in it. Well, I’m just going to type, and hopefully you’ll read, then maybe we can both take some kind of action.
One year ago from today I went to the emergency room in Rochester, NY for swelling ankles and high blood pressure. Three days later I was told that my kidneys were not functioning, and I would need dialysis until I could get a transplant. I was already planning on moving to Orlando, FL in a month. I didn’t want to establish treatment in Rochester and then start all over in Orlando, so I just got on a plane. My poor parents had to caravan with all my stuff since I only had 24 hours before I would need dialysis again. It was decided that I would stay with my generous sister and brother-in-law, which was the plan anyway. However, now there really wasn’t a plan – just taking it day by day.
The first few months were rough. Dialysis takes a lot out of you – literally. Eventually I would be on peritoneal dialysis, which is a lot less draining, but that took some time. I couldn’t take a shower because of the dialysis catheter in my chest. I had to completely adjust my diet to make up for what my kidneys weren’t doing and what dialysis was doing. I was having crazy symptoms all the time because my electrolytes were all out of balance. Most of all I was just exhausted.
(If you’re getting bored, please keep reading. Your part is coming up.)
Now things have kind of settled out. I hook myself up to my dialysis machine every night. It runs for about nine hours, solution absorbing all the toxins and extra fluid, then draining away. I sleep a little, but there are too many things working against me to get a full night’s sleep. I’m on the transplant waiting list, but the average wait time for my blood type in this area is 2-3 years, and no one in my family is a match. This is where you come in. You are about to learn everything you ever wanted to know about being a kidney donor!
- The first step is finding out your blood type. My blood type is B+, so my donor needs to be B or O (the positive or negative part doesn’t matter). Most people don’t even know their blood type, so here’s your chance to find out.
- Everything is kept completely confidential. Unless you tell me yourself, I’ll never know if you got tested, if you’re a match, none of it.
- My insurance and other fundraising efforts will pay for everything. Travel expenses, babysitters for your kids, whatever you need as it relates to you giving me a kidney. Please don’t let money hold you back.
- The testing process is very thorough, and you will not be approved to donate if there is any risk to your health whatsoever.
- The surgery is laparoscopic, so the recovery time is very short. You would be in the hospital for only 2-3 days. The incision is only 2 inches right on top of the bellybutton. Once it heals, you can hardly tell it’s there. After 6 weeks, you’ll feel just the same as you did before. It’ll be like you never had two kidneys in the first place!
- Two healthy kidneys give about ten times the about of kidney function that you actually need. It’s like we’re supposed to share our kidneys with each other.
- Even if you aren’t a match for me, there’s still hope. I call it the Switcheroo program. If you want to donate to me, but we don’t match, they can match us with two other people that are in the same situation. Switcheroo!
- The benefit for me is that living donor kidneys last longer than deceased donor kidneys. I am on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney, so eventually the transplant will happen. However if I get a living donor transplant, and all goes well, I’ll have that kidney for the rest of my life. If I get a deceased donor kidney, I’ll probably have to do this again in 15-20 years or less.
So there you have it. I need one of you to give me a kidney please. Seriously, you have no idea how much it would mean to me to get back to normal. So here’s what you do – go to the Florida Hospital Transplant Center website, click on Learn More under Living Donor, and download the application. Don’t forget to put MY NAME in the Name of Person you want to donate to space. REBECCA A RAY is my name.
I know this is asking a lot, but this is the way it is. I think we should all be able to just ask each other when we need something, even if it is an internal organ.
I’ll keep you updated on the happenings along the way. There will be some cool events coming up (online fundraising auction!), so keep checking back. Thanks for reading, and please share, share, share!