Will you describe what your life was like before Transplant?
Over the years prior to my kidney transplant in 2003, my energy level was slowly declining. I was teaching elementary school at the time. Most teachers will agree that patience is the one thing that makes a good teacher. Because my health was declining, the two years leading up to my transplant in 2003 were difficult. I have to admit it made it very challenging to be the kind of teacher I had been, as my patience declined as well. I continued to do most things I had done prior transplant, but it was harder because my energy level was so low.
Please describe what waiting for the transplant was like.
Prior to my transplant, I was dating Shari who told me that if she was a match she would donate one of her kidneys to me. At the time, I was on transplant waiting list at Good Samaritan Hospital. After Shari was tested and confirmed to be a match, as you can imagine, I was more than ecstatic!
Will you share some of your dreams and fears while waiting for a transplant?
My greatest fear before my operation was not surviving the operation. Many people do not know it, but my mother had kidney failure and was also listed for a kidney transplant. In 1996, after waiting many years on a transplant list in Phoenix, my mother finally got “The Call” and received a cadaver kidney. Five days after her transplant she tragically and unexpectantly passed away. It was because of that, that I feared the actual operation more than I probably should have.
One day, I made a pact with God and promised that if I survived the operation I would attend church every Sunday; and I have kept that promise. One year after my transplant, in 2004, Shari and I got married and continue to remain “connected” in more ways than the “obvious” one.
How has your life changed after transplant?
My life dramatically changed on April 11, 2003, when I woke up in the recovery room at John Hopkins following my transplant. I instantly felt I had regained all the energy that had been gradually declining over the years, prior to my transplant. Like many recipients, I realized then more than ever, just how precious each and every day is and try hard to take advantage of that. The first “big” thing that Shari and I decided to do in 2006 was adopt a six-month old boy from Guatemala named Michael. I always wanted kids but because I married late I never thought that would be possible. Today I “pretend” to have the energy needed to keep up with a 5 year old, which prior to my transplant, would have been truly impossible. Three years ago I retired from teaching and spend a lot of time playing tennis, writing and promoting organ donation. I am a volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, Donor Network of Arizona, Transplant Team Arizona and the New Life Society.