To the family of my donor:
On December 30th of 2015, I received a kidney transplant due to the generosity of your loved one. First and foremost, I am very sorry for your loss. This is the most difficult aspect of the gift of a working kidney. My life is now vastly improved, but the reason for my good fortune is your sadness and I truly wish that wasn’t the case. Our family has suffered a death recently as well: my mother-in-law died from a stroke about a week after my transplant and even though she didn’t die prematurely (she was 91), we all feel her absence every day.
The kidney disease that I have is hereditary. My grandfather had it before there was effective treatment and he died relatively young. My father had it. My sister and three of my five brothers have it and each of my kids have a 50% chance of having the disease. My sister received a donor kidney just a month ago after a 10 year wait and one of my younger brothers had a transplant just over two years ago. As you can see, my family would be a lot smaller were it not for miraculous advances in medicine and the donations of people we will never know.
I am very sorry for your loss. This is the most difficult aspect of the gift of a working kidney.
Prior to the transplant — and even before I started life-prolonging dialysis — I had no energy and was constantly tired, often dealt with pain and discomfort, and, worst of all as an artist and graphic designer, lost interest in my work (something that had once been so important to me). The effects of the disease were also hard on my wife and kids as my mood and demeanor were usually much less than pleasant. It was also difficult for them to see me so unwell.
Since the transplant I am very busy and feeling better than I have in years. My wife and I are currently settling her mother’s estate and preparing to move closer to my mother who would love to have her oldest son nearby again. I am also slowly getting back to my design work and am so very happy to be doing so.
My wife and I expect to celebrate our 28th anniversary in a new home later this summer and I look forward to continue watching — with pride and occasional exasperation — our kids grow into wonderful adults. This could not happen without the new kidney. It has made the next part of my life possible. I will never forget and will always be grateful for the opportunity that has been provided to me and my family.
Thank you and I hope that this letter gives you some small comfort.