On July 21, 2007, my mom Donna had a double lung transplant after being officially on the transplant list for only days. No one thought it would happen so quickly. I was at a wedding in Harrisburg and had to borrow a friend’s car to drive home. My wife Heather* had stayed home with our children who were one and three at the time. She called a neighbor to come stay with the kids and we met at the hospital.
Around midnight – just as my brother and his wife came running down the hall, having jumped on the first flight from Boston – my mom was taken into surgery.
She was in surgery until late the next morning and we waited alongside another family whose loved one had received a heart from the same donor. My mom’s surgery was a success, and once she was fully recovered, she was able to get back to doing all of the things she loved, including traveling, working, and being active in the lives of her grandchildren.
A Turn of Events
Near the end of 2010, during routine follow-up care, doctors let my mom know that her kidney function was being impacted by the daily medications required by the lung transplant. This was not unanticipated by the doctors, but it meant that it was time to start having conversations about what might need to happen in the future, specifically the need for a kidney transplant.
While it’s never easy for a family to deal with a health crisis, it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable team of experts walk you through each step of the process. To learn more about living kidney donation and transplants, visit the UPMC Kidney and Pancreas Transplant Program online.
Over the next couple years, her kidney function was monitored more closely, and moving into 2013, it was time to determine a plan. My mom was upset and frustrated that she was going to need another surgery.
I can’t even tell you how much it broke her heart to have to ask me to be tested as a potential living donor. I’m pretty sure I volunteered numerous times, but I know even thinking of me going through with it was hard for her.
Because of her situation, it was important that she have the best match possible, and everyone hoped to avoid her having to go on dialysis prior to transplant surgery. After each round of testing and screening was completed, I was still a candidate. It was never really a question for me, if I could, I would.
My Surgery and Mom’s Surgery
On December 4, 2013, I donated a kidney to my mom. We arrived at UPMC Montefiore that morning with the exact same group that had been there for the lung transplant more than six years earlier. Dr. Mark Sturdevant removed my kidney and Dr. Amit Tevar successfully transplanted it into my mom. After surgery, we were on separate floors and our friends and family walked back and forth between us visiting. I left the hospital the following afternoon and my mom left after just three days. I returned to work three weeks after the surgery and have had no issues with any of my follow ups.
*Marc’s wife, Heather, is a UPMC employee.