Think about it! Would you be an automatic yes if someone you knew needed a part of one of your organs?
Joy is getting my new part from a gorgeous giving soul like Lydia. Not only was Lydia an automatic yes, horses could not have kept her away (ask her husband, Dave)! Just knowing I would eventually require a transplant, curious Lydia asked about my blood type and, being a match, offered her giant-hearted self as a possible donor more times than I can count on one hand, in the years preceding my listing for liver transplant.
I am eternally grateful for my “part” and for the family I am now a part of in a roundabout way.
Once I was listed and live donation confirmed as an option, all seemed to be aligned to make it happen. Testing appointments for Lydia somehow got scheduled in a way that fit miraculously well into a complex family of five calendar, requiring no jigging or reworking of her scheduling puzzle. Not to say that it didn’t require effort on the part of Lydia to make it work, however with the complexity of pieces of her scheduling puzzle it felt easy for her to fit the appointments in. I think I was the only one to create a wrinkle in the carefully crafted plan. But even then the world organized itself to support Lydia’s loving gift.
With that said, why would someone choose to go through major surgery when a deceased donor was a possiblity? Well here is the clinical reason.
a) It allows for less worry going into a life or death situation. Everyone can be prepared and relatively calm. Really a calm experience versus a call to rush in coming at any time.
b) With the ability to schedule the surgery, it can be scheduled before the health of the recipient is failing too badly. Healthier before transplant can make recovery easier.
But you must be wondering, what were Lydia’s reasons? So I asked her!
“Gosh, you ask good questions Jordyn. Here’s the truth. My knee jerk reaction was “Ill do it” when I heard about your situation. That’s my mom impulse right there. I just wanted to help you. I know as a parent we want to be the ones to help our kids no matter what. In a case like yours, neither of your parents were able to be your donor (you can explain why if you like)
Learning that a living donor is what the doctors were hoping to have for you, and once I had educated myself on all the reasons why it would be best to go that route, I knew I wanted to be tested. They wanted you to have the best chance by making sure you received a healthy liver. What I got out of it was confirmation that I’m in excellent health (as you know I had been tested for everything under the sun). When Dr. C called me to let me know that he and the surgical team reviewed all of my tests, scans and medical history, he said they had a checkmark for everything they needed for you to have the best chance for a successful surgery. They just needed to hear me say yes. So, I said “absolutely”.
I love you, I love your family. I hated what you were all going through. I am grateful that I had the support of my family and friends to be able to help. After all that, my reasons for doing this is really simple – I just wanted to help.”
I also can’t share the experience from the donor perspective, so asked Lydia to let us into her world a little by sharing her experience.
“Aside from giving birth, being a live donor is the only other miracle I have ever been a part of.
It is absolutely mind blowing! A part of my liver (67% to be exact) is now in your body. My 33% is back to 100% and your 67% has/or is on its way to 100% original size!!! Miracle for sure!
I’ve been humbled by the testing process. At every appointment I’d look around the waiting room and notice that I was one of the very few people that was there by choice. Being placed in an MRI for over an hour can be scary. But, I quickly realized how many people are having the same test but waiting to find out “What is it? How bad? How long?” I was just waiting to see if my liver was big enough for donation. That’s it! What was I scared about? So, I focused on gratitude. Grateful for my health and grateful that I was able to help!”
Given Lydia’s answers I had to ask “What did your parents do right to make you such a great human?”, because parents everywhere are now curious.
“Tough question Jordyn. I’ll try my best to answer it.
I grew up in a family that didn’t wait to be asked for help. If someone was moving, we’d offer to help. Each weekend we would be at someone’s house helping with something. Pickling vegetables, pruning trees, making sausages etc. and one weekend a month, the other families would come to our house and help with our projects. Everyone could use a hand (or a liver ;)) at some point. It’s such a relief when someone just shows up.
I also want to set an example for my children. I want them to be brave. To learn about all the different ways we can help others.”
It then followed to ask “Being a mom of 3, how nice was it to have some only you time on drives for testing and while in recovery?”
“Being a mom means being secondary in your own life. For me, x 3!
I love going for drives, especially alone.
Traveling to and from appointments gave me a lot of time to reflect on all the amazing things in my life and how much I have to be grateful for. It also reminded me how much I hate the Gardiner Expressway, traffic, gridlock and pay parking! That Toronto traffic took my Zen away.
I did appreciate the alone time though. I could hear my stomach growling over the music. A lot of the tests required fasting. Anyone who knows me, knows that was likely the hardest part for me.
Recovery was a bit lonely to be honest. With Covid protocols in place, I had no visitors. The first 24 hours after surgery was a lot of sleep. Day 2 was time to get moving to get out of there. I missed my family and my fridge. The food was so bad as you know. I was home on the morning of day 5.“
So not recommended as an escape from everyday then, but busy moms have to find their alone time wherever and whenever they can (wink). Speaking of recovery, Lydia told me that her expected time in hospital was a week. So getting out so fast tells you what a badass she is. In her own words she shares how the staff was impressed with her toughness.
I went for my first walk the day after surgery with the occupational therapist and a nurse. It was tough. It felt as if I had done 10,000 sit ups! They were impressed but, the staff around the floor were shocked. As I completed a lap around my floor, I got lots of “wows” and “ way to go”, etc.
I wanted to start walking because they kept emphasizing how important it was to my recovery, to prevent blood clots, etc. I’m pretty sure they didn’t think I was going to actually walk. But I was up and walking! Albeit, at wounded slug speed, but I was walking!
As I said above, I am grateful and blessed to be the new home for this badass’ “part”. What I want you most to be left with is the gift and joy of giving. Being badass is all about heart! My “part” momma is a good example of badass heart of giving in spades.
Joyful recipient and caring badass,
For information on being a Living Donor visit: https://www.uhn.ca/Transplant/Living_Donor_Program