My cell phone rang, and I answered it like any other call. I learned right away that it was John from the transplant center, and he was looking for Dan because he wasn’t answering either his cell or his work phones. “It’s the TRANSPLANT CENTER!” my brain was screaming, while my voice calmly told John that yes, Dan should be at work and did you try the switchboard there because Dan works from two offices and they always know where he is. The call ended and I immediately felt my anticipation/excitement/worry/fear levels rise. Why didn’t I casually ask “So, do you have a kidney for him” before I hung up? Wondering why Dan wasn’t answering his cell phone, I brought up my text messaging app on my phone and typed out a few crazy-quick messages to Dan:
– You there? Transplant office is trying to get in touch
– John is trying your work # again. Didn’t say why he needs you.
– Hope you are on the phone with him now. Thinking of you and hoping for a kidney.
Dan called an eternity later. We were both a little breathless. Yes, they have a kidney. WOW! After imagining this for so many years, the moment is really here. This is happening! Is this for real? Yes! All the questions: What’s the game plan? Where do we go? When do we go? Adrenaline, wheeeee! I suggested that he probably should go home. Working a full day didn’t really seem necessary all of a sudden. For either of us. I quickly took care of a few things, told my supervisor that the transplant was imminent and I’d be out for the rest of the week (so thankful for great bosses!), and left for home.
I picked up Charlie from after-school care. As soon as I told him that they found a kidney for daddy, he turned to his friends, face glowing and arms raised triumphantly, “My dad is getting a new kidney!!!” He was so excited. The kids knew Dan was sick because of the hospital visit a few weeks ago that got him started on dialysis. Charlie’s class had been learning about heart health, and they had each drawn a heart and veins and arteries onto their own life-size kid cardboard cutouts. Charlie’s was the only one that also included a perfectly placed pair of kidneys.
We learned that we would get a call before 10:00PM and we’d be told when to show up at the hospital. In the meantime, Dan told me about his phone conversation with John from the Transplant Center. There were two kidneys available, and since he was next on the UNOS list, he got to choose. There was also a third choice, which was to wait for the two unknown generous people who had volunteered to be tested as donors. One of the kidneys had a riskier health history than the other, which made the choice fairly easy for Dan. Even though he’d been hoping for a live donor, he didn’t feel that he should wait for a “maybe match” after a lengthy testing process, so he chose the less risky kidney. (We are grateful for Dan’s brother who came forward to be tested last year, but was ruled out as a donor. We are also very grateful to the deceased donor of this kidney, and her family, for this amazing gift. Words cannot express what a truly remarkable gift this is.)
When the Transplant Center called again, we were told to be at the hospital at 6AM. No food or liquids past 9PM. Crazy! This is really happening! I don’t know how Dan felt at that point, but it was a very surreal feeling for me. We had prepared for this moment, and thought about it for YEARS. It was so abstract, and now it was becoming real. Gears had been set in motion. Dan might have had his last dialysis session without even realizing it.
The rest of the night was spent packing a small duffle, trying to relax, and for Dan, doing too much thinking. That man can worry like no one else.
(Know that this has been typed with not a whole lot of sleep since Wednesday. I hope Dan can either comment on this later, to add his perspective, or journal his own experiences. I write this to remember all of the details that are so fresh in my mind now, but will fade with time.)