Two weeks after our surgery, when my right kidney became Julie's, I carefully peeled off all my remaining 1)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 2)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 3)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.
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 4)unsurpassed 5)gratification.
Julie and I have become friends for life. We share the thrill of this medical victory, and 6)abundant gratitude for the many people who made it possible.