Punk Rocker gets A Kidney Transplant
Hello everyone. I got an email saying that they are closing ABC OPEN and if I wanted to keep my story I needed to go and get it so I did. And here it is. Something I wrote a few months after the transplant and before I went to get my biopsy and nearly didn’t come out of hospital alive.
HER FATHER’S DAUGHTER
You cannot force anybody to become an organ donor.
I can be honest and upfront about how grateful and humbled I am that my father chose to donate his kidney to me. Because he was willing and a match, my way of life is forever changed for the better. That and my ability to finally master the art of swallowing pills by the handful. A skill I avoided mastering. You know what they say: necessity is the mother of invention. Or being told ”Jess, if you cannot swallow pills there is no point giving you a kidney transplant.”
It had been three days since the long-awaited kidney transplant operation. I had spent those three days in the Royal Melbourne Hospital Intensive Care Unit.
It was precautionary to keep me there, as my body is small – I am 32, under 5 feet tall and my weight is 31 kilograms. Too many things had gone wrong in the lead up to this transplant. The doctors wanted to be sure everything went well and there were no complications.
The last thing I remember before going to sleep via the magic of my anaesthetist, was my surgeon standing at my bedside and telling me, ‘’I have seen your father’s kidney, Jess, and it is so beautiful.’’
She was not exaggerating. My father had lived a clean life of no alcohol or cigarettes. If you could choose an organ from a line up, it would be the organ donated by a non smoker.
My father gets taken to recovery after the operation and my mother flits between my father and I.
My father is high on pain killers when my Mother tells him how well his kidney is working while inside of his daughter.
Upon hearing how well I am urinating ( its a big deal if you know the pain of not being able to, trust me) thanks to his kidney, my father says,
‘’You know what? All this pain I am feeling right now is totally worth it because my daughter is weeing thanks to me.’’
When I do finally see my father after the transplant I am lying in a bed in the dialysis ward. I am getting a dose of plasma exchange to ensure my antibodies do not attack my father’s kidney in a foolish attempt to save my body from this foreign object. I am yet to have much energy. I am facing the entrance to the ward so I see him as soon as he enters the doorway. He refused any help to walk as he wanted to see me unaided. This moment was for he and I alone.
He is wearing the white hospital gown and the knee high white socks they give you. He is not standing up strong and straight like I am used to. He leans on the door a moment to gather some more strength. He is smiling at me though. His glasses are on his nose and his blue eyes are crinkling at the corners. I have never been prouder to have inherited his blue eyes.
When he gets to my bedside, I reach out my left arm from under the blankets and he takes my hand in his. I look right into his face and he looks down into mine.
‘’I think we did it,’’ I say.
‘’Yep,’’ my father says.
‘’Are you OK?’’ I say.
‘’Yep. Fine,’’ My father says.
My transplant operation was on the 26th of March 2015. 4 years later both the donor and the receiver are doing fine.
The best thing to come from all this is a better understanding and connection between my father and I. We rarely agree on anything. I joke that his donated kidney is now a transgender feminist and equipped with this secret weapon, I will use it to systematically smash the neoliberal capitalist patriarchy wherever I see it. I was doing this before but now I’m not weakened by my two punk ass kidneys being all RA RA I WONT DO WHAT I’M S’POSED TO. I am better able to maintain the rage.
So, thanks Dad. x