Karin Transplant Journey, Part 4: The Gift
How do you thank someone who gave up a piece of themselves for you? How do you express gratitude for feeling alive again after a period of suffering enormous fatigue, nausea, fear and depression?
My sister and my father did this for me – they each gave up a kidney to save my life.
14 years ago, my father and I were on the table, and these fourteen years have enabled me not only to smile and hug my family and friends, but also to have a child of my own and start and build a thriving life sciences company that serves patients and promotes innovation.
This past week, my younger sister Lisa did the same for me. Her kidney came alive in my body immediately on the OR table and normalized my kidney values within two days of the operation. It is hard to describe my feelings and my energy levels other than as “hyper”.
I want to run, laugh, hug, scream and jump for joy. I want to bring joy to others, smiling to every person I meet, including the incredible staff at Columbia Presbyterian, led by the amazing Dr. Lloyd Ratner. He has assembled a team of surgeons, physicians, scientists, nurses, physician assistants (PA), technologists, social workers, occupational therapists, and other staff who work tirelessly under very hard conditions. They are heroes, together with the donors who give us recipients a second (or third) chance of life.
So what am I going to do with this gift?
I will live every day to the fullest, which doesn’t mean I will do as much as I can every day, but I will measure myself and take care of my new “baby” so that it can serve me as long as possible.
I will take care of my body by eating right, sleeping enough, exercising regularly and practicing mental health through meditation and mindfulness. I will be kind to myself when I feel tired, and I will be respectful to others and always keep in mind that the exterior of someone is not always a reflection of their inner self. I will cherish my friends who have stood by me through the hardship of kidney failure and dialysis.
I will continue to serve patients through my work. I will partner with great companies and leaders in academia to promote innovation. I will provide opportunities for my team to both grow professionally while also taking care of their families.
Above all, my life is dedicated to the family who saved me, and my own little family, whom I am raising with all of my heart. I appreciate each of my sisters, parents, brothers in law, nieces and nephews, and especially my daughter.
To my daughter, I want to show that life may not be a walk in the park – you need to fight for what you want – but it is beautiful. I want her to know that she will always be taken care of, and endlessly loved by, her Mamma.