A January morning at Duke University Hospital, 2006
Bright and early took on new meaning. Standing near a brightly lit doorway, in a dimly lit hall, knees weak and trembling, nerves crashing, hazy vision…
Is this a dream?
It doesn’t feel real, but it sure feels right. Standing tall, shaking off the creeping unease, holding back the tears as my family wishes me well. I couldn’t say anything for fear of losing my composure, a simple nod and smile of reassurance was all I could summon.
This is something I must do.
Time was up…the moment was near…they called me in, glancing back as the light from beyond dissolved me away.
I lay in wait on a cold thin medical stretcher, watching the sickness and pain of others around me in the pre-op room, fumbling my fingers and praying for their fate as well as my sisters and mine. It was all I had to offer, our circumstances dire. Fighting back the fear, I tried to remain strong.
The smell of sterilization filled my senses, a smell so clean it’s almost sour. Anticipation growing, a heightned awareness of things, my slow and controlled breathing keeping me calm on the outside. Thoughts darting;
“Will she be ok?”, “What if it doesn’t work?” “What if we both don’t make it?”
Worries set aside. In the book of John chapter 15 it is written that we can offer no greater love than to make the needs of others more important than our own.
This is something I must do.
A few minutes felt like hours, enough lapse to reflect on two lives growing to a point of remission.
My sister was my protector, always shielding me from bad intentions and knowledge of realities best left alone, shooing them to the dark corners where they belong. Keeping me in my own little world where I was safe from the dangers she knew first hand. I was in her debt, though she would never agree. A part of my liver, was a small price for repayment.
The nurse arrived and simple chatter and banter ensued. I didn’t hear the words, simply following along with nods and smiles, there was no doubt what came next. I sat up on the bed side, the large needle she flashed sending my mind more panic than the impending surgery.
Groggyness was starting to take hold and I was unsure from what. I was still anticipating the large needle to be stuck in my back…but it never came. Eyes heavy, vision now fading, a thought formed before the darkness fell.
Life will never be the same……..But this is something I must do.
If someone is on the fence about being a living donor, hopefully this will give them the impact they are looking for to make a decision. This was my experience the morning of donation. It’s been over 8 years now and I’ve never wrote or spoke much about my living liver donation in detail. I’ve kept most my experiences and feelings to myself. I’ve wanted to talk or write about them, but the words never came. I couldn’t find them. But today is National Donor Day and sometimes you just gotta write. When Christy was alive I never spoke of or thought about these things much. I assumed if I didn’t talk about it, her pain wasn’t real, or everything would be as normal as I imagined. Now that she’s gone, even as hard as it is for me to talk about myself, her story needs heard. To hopefully a greater end, but if only for my closure will have to do. Her life was beautiful and I helped extend it 7 years. It was a blessing for both of us!