Giving A Kidney, Gaining A Lifelong Friend Jeff Moyer reflects on the "unsurpassed gratification" he felt after successfully donating his kidney to Julie Stinson, the daughter of a friend. Kidney donation surgery is harder on donors than on recipients, Moyer says.  But while his discomfort will soon end, Stinson will take anti-rejection drugs for years to come.

Giving A Kidney, Gaining A Lifelong Friend

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So that's our follow-up on blindness. And now let's follow up on another story in "Your Health."

Earlier this summer, we heard from commentator Jeff Moyer, who was about to donate a kidney to the daughter of a friend. Today, he tells us how the surgery went.

JEFF MOYER: Two weeks after our surgery, when my right kidney became Julie's, I carefully peeled off all my remaining bandages. There they were: amazing, bright new scars, real battle ribbons. Julie's surgeon noted - and I repeat humbly - that my kidney was a splendid specimen. It began functioning while Julie was still in surgery.

A few hours later, as I was being moved from post-op to my room, I learned Julie was nearby. Our stretchers were pushed together, and Julie clasped my hand. A nurse wept when she saw us and when I asked, captured the moment with her cell phone camera. I am blind, so I can't see the picture myself. But I'm told that before surgery, Julie was pale. But in the post-op photo, her cheeks are pink.

The next day, Julie was hooked up to considerably more medical machines than I, and required an emergency transfusion. Unaware of Julie's crisis, I lay hot and sticky, and itched mightily from a newly discovered morphine allergy. The nurse said I would soon forget the pain. True. I now only remember feeling like I really needed a shower and a few tubes removed.

I was genuinely surprised by my leaden fatigue, even though the surgeon predicted six to eight weeks for recovery. It would take that long for my sutured stomach muscles to heal. Every day I have less pain, more energy, and more restlessness to get back to normal.

Julie's surgical pain diminished, even before she went home. Her back pain ceased after three weeks, and she resumed driving. She has lost water weight, and put good pounds back onto her thin frame. After years of decline, Julie has regained normal kidney function. She has been back to work for over a month.

Kidney donation surgery is harder on donors than recipients, and harder on male than female donors. But my discomfort will soon end, while Julie will take anti-rejection meds and diligently protect her donated organ for years to come. Kidney donors usually go on to lead normal lives. We learn that we have courage and patience if the healing is slow. And we get to experience this unsurpassed gratification.

Julie and I have become friends for life. We share the thrill of this medical victory, and abundant gratitude for the many people who made it possible.


INSKEEP: Commentator Jeff Moyer is a writer, musician, and an advocate for disability rights.

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