Kidney Donation: Both Sides Now, Part 2

There are two sides to every kidney donation story—the selfless decision made by the donor and the priceless gift received by the recipient. Richard Patterson III almost lost his father to cancer, so when his dad’s remaining kidney failed, he stepped up to become a living donor in June 2014.

No Regrets: Giving Dad My Kidney

When I found out my dad had cancer in 2007, doctors initially thought he might have pancreatic cancer. Thinking he might have as little as six months to live, I was afraid on many fronts—for him, for my mom, for myself. He fought bravely and valiantly, spending almost an entire summer in the hospital before he was able to go home. I remember one evening my mom and I came to see him and found him hooked up to a breathing tube, having come down with pneumonia after one of his chemo treatments. We couldn't bring ourselves to say it, but we weren't sure he was going to make it. We're lucky that he did.

Over time, my dad's cancer year became less omnipresent. He beat his cancer, and tests affirmed his cancer-free status. He hit the one-year mark, then the five-year mark. I was there for him as he recovered as much as I could be while I studied in New York City. His first summer P.C. (post-cancer), I remember walking with him around a local track, hardly able to believe how frail he was—this man who'd shown me up so often in the past, on his bike or on foot.

In place of cancer came chronic kidney disease and the slow, inevitable failure of his remaining kidney. Though his levels held steady, when my dad was added to the transplant list, I started seriously considering whether I could step up to the plate and be a kidney donor. First my mom submitted forms to see if she was a potential donor, and when she was ruled out, I decided to be tested to see if I was a good match. When I expressed early doubts, my boyfriend told me what I already knew: "He's your dad; you've got to do it." I decided I would trust my own gut reaction when the first results came in from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. I was a match, and I was elated.

From there, nine months more of tests awaited before the big day. Both my dad and the team of experts assured me I could back out at any time, but I wanted to give to my dad what he'd given to me: the gift of life—longer life, healthier life. The day finally came last June, and despite the fairly lengthy recovery, what I remember most is waking up after the surgery, being wheeled through the hallway by members of the hospital staff. "Your kidney's working like a champ," they told me, and I immediately started crying. "What's wrong?" they asked. "Nothing," I replied. I couldn't really put that joy into words. As the months have gone by, I've seen my dad regain his strength and energy. Though the decision to donate an organ isn't one to take lightly, and I could never tell someone to make that choice without giving the matter due consideration, I look back on my donation with no regrets.

You could become someone's hero by simply registering as an organ donor at Give someone a second chance at life! One registered donor can potentially save as many as eight lives.

Posted: | Author: Richard Patterson III

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