Mary Kate McKenna Photography

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One Year Ago: Joe’s Amazing Kidney Donation.

January 12th, 2011 was the most stressful, crazy, wonderful, and most amazing day I’ve ever experienced.

At the time I was full of anticipation, worry, and, quite honestly, exhaustion.  Now I look back at that day with such a different set of emotions.

The mental and physical exhaustion of watching your husband donate a kidney to his father is tough.  But I couldn’t be prouder to be married to someone who would willingly have major surgery on his perfectly healthy “Hooah-Army-Body” in order to better someone’s life.

 

 

Today, both Joe and his dad are doing great.  The kidney is working perfectly and Joe is back to normal, with one “super kidney.”  The body is incredible.  In fact, Joe ran the Army 10 miler in October and his dad rides his bike 40+ miles a week.

But here I am, a year later, absolutely regretting not documenting and capturing the entire process.  I brought my camera with me, fully expecting to tell the story of this kidney transplant.  And I just didn’t.  I took a few iPhone photos here and there, but I am so disappointed in myself for not capturing more.  I suppose it was just “too close to home” for me as they say.

I want others to see what an amazing gift and experience live organ donation is, and how you can save lives.  I’m hoping now, a year later, sharing what I did take, and sharing some of the things I wrote during that time, will encourage and help others learn about live organ donation.

That being said- here are the details- Joe was in the hospital a total of two nights, his father three.  Really.  The University of Florida does an incredible job and I am so thankful to them and their amazing doctors and staff.

I’d also like to thank all my family, friends and clients who were so supportive and understanding during that time.  I was completely off the radar for three weeks while I took care of Joe, and you were all so wonderful about it.  I am deeply appreciative of you all.

Here are some photos I took on my phone and a few after the surgery with my camera.  They are also accompanied with a few of my journal entries I wrote (and one Joe wrote) during that time.


If you are interested in learning more about live kidney donation, please check out Kidney.org and their live donor section.

Checking into the hospital (iPhone)

A Note from Joe…

“Well, today is the big day.  My father and I are off the to hospital for our kidney transplant.  I hope I give him a good one!  I am very happy that I am able to help him when I can, and it will be, from what I can tell, be a fairly simple procedure.  It has definitely opened my eyes to the need of all the thousands of kidney patients out there just waiting for a transplant.  You start to realize how many people you know have their lives affected from kidney issues, and how easy it is for someone with two healthy kidneys to change the life of someone else.”

Joe post-op, resting/being a goof in his room. (iPhone)
“Joe’s surgery was from 8am to noon and went very well.  As planned, they took the left kidney and only had to make three incisions instead of four.  I got to see Joe around 2pm.  He was a bit groggy but he was his sweet goofy self.  He immediately asked about his dad.

When he found out that the kidney was in and already producing, he cried.  Then I cried.  Then the nurse cried.  Yeah, we’re emotional.

Pops just got out of recovery and is resting in his room comfortably now.  He’s still sleeping but all is well.

I took a photo of Joe after our emotional moment.  [above]  He would like this titled, “What guy has two thumbs and one kidney?  This guy!”

WHAT A DAY.  I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotionally drained in my life.  I was nervous and scared, but happy and proud and everything in-between.  I’ll never forget this experience.”
Joe seeing his dad for the 1st time after the surgery. (iPhone)

“It’s truly amazing how much a body can heal in 36 hours.  I am blown away by their progress.  Joe’s nausea went away and he was able to get up and walk the halls.  The nurses said he had to do at least three laps.  He did way more than that, which was great.  He also was able to drink water and gatorade, and eat some Jello, popsicles, and a bit of a real dinner.  Amazing.

His dad is also doing very well- they had him sitting down at a table to eat.  It was very uncomfortable for him, but he did it.  Right before I left tonight he was walking the hallway for the first time.  He was tired, but hey, he was moving!  36 hours after a kidney transplant he is walking the 9th floor.

I can’t help but be in awe of modern medicine, the brilliant surgeons, the nurses and psc’s who are absolute ANGELS, and even the people who clean the rooms and deliver meals to the room.  They are all so kind, understanding and ready to help.  At times like this you feel so vulnerable and small- the people here make you feel strong.  They make asking for help and asking questions easy.  They make you feel comfortable and you know they will take the absolute best care of you.  And that’s worth everything.

After much debate, I decided to come home (to Joe’s parents home) and sleep tonight.  I need it.  I needed a hot shower. (it was amazing) I need to snuggle up with a dog.  I needed to not hear beeping for a few minutes.  Just some quiet.

Tomorrow Joe is coming home.  I am so excited.  He will be thrilled to be out of the hospital.  He misses his dog and just wants to not be poked and prodded every two hours.  I’ll welcome him with open arms.

I’m so incredibly proud of Joe and humbled to say not only do I know him, not only is he my best friend, but I’m married to him, too.

Life is good.”

Exactly one week post-op.
“Everyone ate dinner at the table at home tonight and even went on a walk.  The body is incredible and heals up fast- major surgery on a Tuesday, eating enchiladas and walking a dog on a Saturday.

Amazing.  Now just resting to get their strength back. Joe has a dr. appt on Thursday- if Joe is given the OK, we will head back to Maryland. We will take our time going back, taking a few days to make the drive since Joe shouldn’t be in the car too long.  A week ago these two were in the hospital having had major surgery.  Today they walked around Gator Stadium.  Amazing.”

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