The Challenge: The Decision
When Courtney's husband needed a transplant, her sister Kathy Bost encouraged them to trust UPMC. Traveling for expertise was a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Courtney says, “The level of confidence the UPMC surgeon had wasn’t even on the same planet compared to the retrieval surgeon who wanted to do it [locally]. It was an unbelievable difference.”
She did a lot of research about living-donation. Concerned that there could be potential health risks involved, her husband was really against her doing it; he wanted to wait for a deceased donor.
“Your prospects of not rejecting are also so much better with living-donation,” explains Courtney.
Even up to a week prior to the transplant, Courtney’s husband was adamant about not taking one of her kidneys. They had several discussions about it. Courtney explained that if things fell into place they should trust that this is the right option.
The Path to Living-Donor Kidney Transplant at UPMC
Since Courtney was not local, the transplant team did as much as possible over the phone and Internet.
“The team was super. I did everything from computer for the most part. All other necessary tests were performed in one day at UPMC. They were so efficient, I was shocked. [My surgeon] was wonderful. He spent hours with me explaining everything and was really the deciding factor. Every single question I had, he answered and he was honest with me.”
Courtney’s living-donor transplant was performed in June 2012.
"I was surprised how well it went. The only symptom I had at all was nausea from the anesthesia. I was euphoric when I came out. I can’t even explain it. When I woke up and asked how my husband was, they said he was in surgery but doing great. The kidney was beautiful,” states Courtney.
Directly after her husband was out of his procedure, their kids came into Courtney’s room and he walked in, still with his IV.
Her husband was shaking, but sat down and stated, “I want to give you something to show you how much I appreciate this.”
He sent one of their kids over with a box, and inside was a necklace made in the shape of kidneys, with precious stones in the middle of it. Her husband explained just how appreciative he was.
The Results: Giving the Miracle of Life
Courtney was released from the hospital the next day and could drive within one week.
“If I didn’t know I did it, I wouldn’t even be able to tell. If I could grow a kidney every month, I would donate over and over again to save someone’s life.”
Because of their similar experiences, Courtney had Kathy for support throughout the process. As a result, they grew even closer.
Courtney says, “People are always looking for the miracles, but what if we are the miracles? We have two kidneys; we can live on one. A person has to go into this because they feel it’s the thing they need to do — no other external factors. I did this because I wanted to give someone else a second chance. You’re truly giving somebody the gift of life.”
To learn more about living-donor transplants, or to register to become an organ donor, visit UPMC.com/LivingDonorTransplant.
Courtney’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.
Learn More about Living-Donor Kidney Transplant
UPMC HealthBeat Blog:
- Can I Donate Certain Organs While I’m Still Alive?
- How to Register to Become an Organ Donor
- The Impact of One Organ Donor
UPMC Transplant Services: