When Ashley arrived at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, NC on the morning of September 24, 2019 for her kidney transplant, she was in end-stage renal failure. The kidney that had been doing important work—removing excess water and waste from her blood, transforming poisonous waste products into urine and returning cleansed blood for use throughout her body—was no longer functioning. A genetic kidney disease passed down from her biological mother had aggressively destroyed both of her kidneys. Literally weeks away from having to start dialysis, a living donor was matched. On that September day, she would meet that donor…Amanda.
In the weeks and months leading up to her transplant, Ashley was rigorously evaluated by the kidney transplant team. She was added to the National Transplant list. However, it could takes years to receive an organ from a deceased donor. So, a large social media push was generated in order to seek a possible living donor. The response was enormous! Countless living donor candidates were tested for blood type and cellular compatibility. The brave candidates were then narrowed down to three. Those three candidates would undergo a series of blood, radiology, physical, and psychosocial assessments. They would also meet with doctors, social workers and finance specialists. The goal in all of this is to ensure that the potential donors are healthy, body and mind, to withstand both transplant surgery and postoperative regiment.
Amanda was selected.
This leads me back to September 24, 2019. Ashley and Amanda spent time laughing, taking photos, and crying tears of gratitude. As Ashley’s mom, it was beautiful to witness two humans whose lives crossed in such a unique way. Through Ashley’s journey, I learned a lot about living organ donors. In 2019, 7,300 people became living donors. Isn’t that amazing! 7,300 selfless individuals who gave life to another! Amanda didn’t just give life to my daughter, she made life better for Ashley’s son, Callaway. That’s what donors do, living and deceased, they create life for so many and for generations to come. What a gift.
When the time arrived for the transplant surgeries to begin, Amanda was the first to go.
She was brave. She was joyful. She was confident.
The surgery was done laparoscopic and took about two hours. Amanda’s kidney was removed from her body and kept cool in a slush of ice to preserve it. A kidney can survive for just five to ten minutes without blood flow so it was rushed over to another surgical room where Ashley would soon be receiving this life-changing organ.
She was brave. She was grateful. She was hopeful.
The Surgeon made an incision in the lower part of Ashley’s abdomen and placed the new kidney into her body. An incredible fact…her diseased kidneys were left in place and her new kidney was positioned in front of them. She now has three kidneys!!! The human body is mind blowing!
Both Ashley and Amanda were taken to private rooms for recovery. Doctors and nurses monitored them for signs of complications. After a few days, Amanda was discharged from the hospital and allowed to continue her recovery at home. Ashley spent nearly a week in the hospital healing, measuring urine output, balancing her life-long anti-rejection medications and gaining her strength back. Unable to drive to frequent check-ups or lift objects, Ashley stayed with family members for several weeks after her transplant. Most of that time was used learning how to care for her new kidney, educating herself of the 30+ daily medications that she will be taking for the life of this organ, and healing her body.
Today...September 24, 2020 marks one year since this life-changing transplant took place. ONE YEAR! Ashley is thriving and her new kidney is working better than imagined. Amanda has fully recovered and forever loved by our family. Today and everyday, I celebrate my daughter’s strength to overcome not only Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) but also her daily journey with Type 1 Diabetes. I celebrate Amanda’s obedience to God’s calling for her to be a living donor.
I celebrate the gift of life.
> 850 million people worldwide are now estimated to have kidney diseases from various causes. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) causes at least 2.4 million deaths per year and is now the 6th fastest growing cause of death.
> 110,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Register here to become a donor.
> Interested in becoming a living donor? Click here to learn more.