I was born with reflux of the kidneys which over time developed into renal failure. I had my first dialysis session on my 10th birthday back in 2002.
I was on peritoneal dialysis for six years before I contracted a fungal infection called peritonitis which meant I had to switch to hemodialysis at the age of 16.
The day I got the call that changed my life was when I was 19 years old and in college. I was expecting a call from the hospital to confirm a date for my fistula operation which I was dreading. Instead I was told I was a match. I could not believe it.
The donor was young, a perfect match and alive. Not only that, the donor was donating to me even though he did not know me!
I had been told for a long time that I would never receive a call like this because I had too many antibodies. It wasn’t until I was being put asleep on the operating table six weeks later that I cried with happiness . I couldn’t bring myself to believe I could be that lucky.
My donor gave me a life to live for and I live every day to the fullest! In the 10 years since receiving my kidney, I have graduated from university, traveled and explored the world, received my black belt in jiu-jitsu, participated in a pageant, bought a house and got engaged. These may be things most people do in life but for a child on dialysis, waiting for a kidney, most of these things are just hopes and dreams.
The ten years of health I have had mean the world to me, the memories I have been able to make because of my donor are priceless and I count my lucky stars every day that I get to do all of these wonderful things because of him.
I wrote to my donor a week after my surgery and started my letter with the definition of a hero, because that is what he will always be to me.