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Kidney Transplant Story: Rochelle

kidney transplant

Photo: Rochelle (right) with Roy, her father and donor (left) on the day of her kidney transplant surgery.

Satellite Healthcare is proud to join the CKD community in encouraging Americans to register as an organ donor and to honor those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

In honor of National Donate Life Month, we’ve invited Rochelle as a guest blogger to share some thoughts on her 2015 kidney transplant experience.

Rochelle’s Kidney Transplant Experience – | ‘Donors are lifesavers!’


A willing donor may not be able to donate to you.

As there is such a high demand for people needing and waiting for a kidney transplant (as well as many other organs), finding a donor can be difficult. Not only is asking awkward and terrifying, but it is not a guarantee that the willing donor will even be a match for you. Donors need to be tested for blood and tissue type and be considered healthy. Unfortunately, most of my relatives who were willing to donate were unable to be a donor, except for my father. He actually was not in the ideal shape to be my donor at first, but with determination to lose some weight and by dropping smoking, he qualified to be tested. This led to the discovery that he was a suitable match. If your willing donor ends up not being your match, there are still other options such as paired kidney donation where another willing donor in the same situation matches to each other’s recipient in need. The matching doesn’t stop there; the chain can extend further to all the potential donors to their matched recipient! In this scenario, the donor will not only be helping to save one life, but multiple lives that are involved!

You’ll feel a burst of energy right after surgery.

A nurse in the kidney transplant program told me that after surgery, many people wake up with so much energy. I thought that was weird because usually people feel groggy and weak after major surgeries, but it’s true! My body had a healthy, functioning new kidney! My family noticed the color in my skin looked healthier. Kidneys do wonderful things, and donors are lifesavers!

The removal of tubes. (This might be make you cringe)

I thought once the surgery was done, I would wake up to be catheter-free. Instead I woke up with not only my chest catheter (my lifeline for hemodialysis), but aIso a urinary catheter (for monitoring urine output post-surgery), a drain plug hanging out of my pelvis (to help remove excess fluid from surgery), and a ureteric stent (tube that helps connect new kidney to my bladder during recovery process). I was terrified to know that all of the tube removals were going to happen while I was awake and would not require any anesthetics! The urinary catheter, drain plug, and stent were painless, but just an awkward feeling. Although those removals made me extremely nervous, the one that terrified me the most was the removal of my chest catheter because this tube was my lifeline for eight long months. I thought the tube would be a part of my body by that point, but the only pain I felt were the pinches from the numbing injections. The experience was more mind over matter, but so worth it in the end... showers!

Want to learn more about Rochelle's story? Listen to Rochelle's interview with Christopher Springmann on NephTalk below: