Posted by Amber:
“My story started through social media in December 2014. A local business, Yonsei University, where my daughter studies martial arts shared Darin’s facebook page. The page had all sorts of information – information about his life, his children, his blood types and the types he could accept, and information about how to get tested to see if you were a match. I decided, hey, why not, at least see. That test is a very simple blood test. Results take a few weeks, then I got the call saying I was a match. The hospital Darin was using only tests potential donors one at a time. In early 2015 I became his number 1 and testing was scheduled for February 2015.
I reached out to the family, thinking that would give me some sort of accountability – I even remember messaging his wife something to the effect of the only way this isn’t going to happen is if something is medically wrong with me… boy, was I wrong. A few weeks before my first appointment, I pulled out. I was scared s—less. I was uneducated. Had a thousand questions and emotions and frankly “it wasn’t my problem.”
By the time I pulled out, their story had started to blow up on local news stations. I just assumed “it would all work out.” Again, I was wrong, but for 10 months I wiped my hands clean. I don’t think I even checked up on them. Somehow, as fate would have it, he popped up again in my social media in December 2015, and he looked horrible. I learned that yes, a few other matches were found, but none worked out, that he was on 5 hours a day of dialysis. Can you imagine? 5 hours a day of dialysis, then sleeping because dialysis exhausts you. Did I mention this guy had 6 kids? But he couldn’t be “Dad” and his wife obviously couldn’t be mom when she was busy being caretaker.
I decided that it was my problem. I immediately regretted backing out. Knowing that in this year’s time he could have had all that time back with his kids. I decided to ask the questions, gain the knowledge, really understand the risks. Then, I decided to just take it day by day, step by step. You can fail at any step, and like it is absolutely drilled into your brain by every single person you come into contact with, you can back out at any point.. so why not start. I emailed the coordinator. Again, I became his number 1. I still don’t know how that works. I know that he had 2 other matches after me. I don’t know how I got put in front of them on the testing list. It might have something to do with overall health or lifestyle – but I have no idea. They scheduled me for February.
Testing took 2 full days. CT scans, pet scans, blood work, psych screenings, meetings with social workers and surgeons and dozens of other people… and each one tells you “you can back out at any time.” I passed the first day of testing and moved to the second day and passed those too. After you pass testing, you still have to go before the committee. You can pass individual tests but not pass the whole thing. I did.
All along the way I had some friends and family that were along for the ride and some that weren’t. I am a single parent. Some people felt the risk I was taking was too great of one. After I passed committee, we scheduled surgery. For work reasons, I scheduled a month out. Then we wait. I decided in the beginning of my second go around that I did not want contact with the family. Frankly, I didn’t want to not like him. It isn’t my job to determine who is worthy of my kidney. I remember the first time disliking him because he didn’t have a dog, and I am heavily involved in animal rescue. Then I thought, Amber, how on Earth could they take care of a dog. Then, on top of not wanting to judge him or his worth, I don’t think I really want to know if the kidney rejects.
Today, we are 3 days post surgery. My mom actually asked if I minded if she met the family, and I didn’t. She has been in contact with them. Evidently the surgery, so far, has been a great success. I went home 22 hours post op. I’m off of pain meds and getting back to life. And there hasn’t been a single second that I have regretted it, even with the pain. In fact, the incredible ease of the whole process has made me want to be a voice for living donation.”
Photos from Amber: