My dad, Shawn Foran, lived with kidney disease for many years and it is because of his journey that my family is registered as organ donors.
He was in his early 20s when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune kidney disease. He was put on dialysis and waited for 5 years for the phone call that a kidney was available. My family got tested, but no one was a match. Finally, in 1999 a match was found. The gift of life came from the tragedy of someone’s death. From 1999-2008 my dad could live life without the restriction of dialysis. He could work a full-time job, travel, he could drink more than 1L of liquid per day, he could feel well, and he could live life to the fullest.
Eventually, even though he was taking anti-rejection medication every day, his body rejected his kidney. No medication can completely prevent this from happening, but it was nonetheless still devastating for my dad and our family. This meant going back on dialysis and back on the waitlist.
The wait time is usually 2-7 years, but because he had previously had a transplant, the wait was expected to be much longer because he needed an organ that was an even closer match.
While my dad was waiting, he needed to go back on hemodialysis. He was on dialysis for the second time for nearly 12 years before he passed away at 51 years old; he didn’t receive a kidney in time. Those 12 years were filled with numerous doctors’ appointments, blood draws, scans, and surgeries due to complications of kidney disease. My dad spent nearly 15 000 hours in hospital over the past decade doing dialysis. Imagine doing something you hated for 15000 hours!
Through everything he faced he rarely complained; his positive outlook on life gave him the strength to keep pushing forward and it is what pushes me and my family to spread the word about organ donation.
Organ donation is the ultimate gift, and I will forever be grateful to the family that chose to donate their loved one’s kidney all those years ago so that I could have my dad for 28 years of my life.