The Challenge: Kidney Failure
Sitting across the table from her husband, Bob, and stepdaughter, Kelly, it’s difficult for Diane Lee to remember what life was like two years ago.
“When I see them together – laughing, joking, and talking like nothing ever happened – it’s just such an incredible feeling,” says Diane.
For Diane, seeing her family together is a blessing and something that she almost lost two years ago when they learned that Bob was in kidney failure and would need a transplant in order to survive.
“It was awful to see him so sick,” remembers Diane. “He could barely walk from the garage, up the steps, and into the house without getting short of breath.”
The Path to the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program
Determined to do whatever possible to save Bob’s life, Diane and Kelly began researching their options. With the help of the transplant team, they quickly realized that a living-donor kidney transplant was the solution.
During a living–donor kidney transplant, a healthy kidney from a living person is removed and transplanted into a person with a failing kidney. With 96,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, living donation helps to reduce the shortage of organs. Living donation allows patients to receive a transplant sooner and before they become too sick. Friends, family members, and even strangers have chosen to become living donors in order to help people in need.
“We have six kids total and two of them were the right blood type. So, they both were evaluated as a potential donor and Kelly was the best match,” says Diane.
The Solution: A Living Donor
For Kelly, the decision to become a living donor for her father was easy but Bob was hesitant at first.
“When I heard that Kelly was a match, I really didn’t want her to do it,” says Bob. “I never wanted to take anything away from my kids.”
But, after learning more about the procedure and discussing it as a family, Bob decided to accept Kelly’s help and agreed that a living-donor transplant, would be his best option.
“I would never want to be without my father so there really was no other option,” says Kelly. “I told him that if he would not let me be his donor, I would donate to someone else on the waiting list.”
On Sept. 29, 2015, Diane said goodbye to both Bob and Kelly as they went into surgery.
“This was by far the most emotional day of my life,” remembers Diane. “Not only did I have my husband to think about but also my daughter so I had to watch two people I love get taken into surgery.”
While Bob’s recovery took a few months, Kelly was home from the hospital in two days and joined Diane in helping her dad through recovery.
“I didn’t have any issues. I was back to work in six weeks,” says Kelly. “I always remind myself that I saved a life – dad is still here and that is all that matters.”
The Result: A Bond for Life
Today, Bob and Kelly are both doing great and Diane believes that they are now closer than ever. As a family, they believe that more people need to be aware of living-donor transplants.
“I see them both together and they are okay. It’s so amazing that you can give someone a kidney and give them a whole new outlook on life,” says Diane.
Bob and Kelly’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.
Learn more about Living-Donor Kidney Transplant and Organ Donation
UPMC HealthBeat Blog
- Living-Donor Kidney Transplant Patient Story: A Second Chance at Life
- 6 Common Organ Donation Myths Debunked
- How to Register to Become an Organ Donor
UPMC Transplant Services