After all these years working as a transplant nurse, it is still really fun taking care of patients who have received a new kidney, especially those from a living donor. Some patients have been on dialysis for years, going to the same center three times a week for several hours. I love listening to them call their dialysis units to share the good news and hearing the excited shouts of jubilation on the other end of the line! We’ve had parents donate a kidney to their child, child to parent, siblings, friends, in-laws, church members, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and co-workers. It is the gift of life and is both incredible and humbling to witness.
After I received report from the recovery room nurse on my patient, a 71 year old lady who received a kidney from her daughter, I went to the daughter’s room to let her know her Mom was doing well and was on her way up. Even though she was in pain, her smile was beautiful when she heard the good news.
When my patient came to her room, I met her husband and another daughter while I got her settled and did an assessment. After telling her Mom she loved her, the daughter asked where her sister’s room was, and said, “I’ll be right back. There’s a whole bunch of us coming.”
Very soon the room was filled with one of the sweetest, kindest families I’ve ever met. The love in there was so palpable it was breath-taking. When we receive a patient with a new kidney, we are in their rooms almost continuously the first eight hours- taking vital signs, performing assessments and interventions, adjusting medicines and IV fluids; the family was so warm and welcoming, they made me feel like I was one of them. Her sons were excited every time I emptied the urine from their Mom’s foley catheter and they saw how well the kidney was doing, asking “How much is it now?”
Later in the evening, the family went to get some food and make phone calls; only the husband remained, not wanting to leave his wife’s bedside. He spoke of how blessed he felt that each of their seven children was able to be with them for the surgery, and how although they had all been tested, it was only the one daughter that was the perfect donor candidate for her mother. He shared his faith in God with me, saying that his wife’s kidney function was only at 8% for months but she had been spared having to go through dialysis prior to transplant.
As I worked with her, my patient searched with her eyes for her husband if he stepped out of her line of vision for even a second and he continued to stand at her bedside. I offered to pull the recliner closer to her, saying it must have been a long day and asking if he wanted to rest. He beamed and said, “No. There’s been no such thing as time today. Only joy!”