I donated my kidney to my daughter, Matilda, just after she turned 2 years old. The one really surprising thing I learned through this process was that an adult male’s kidney can be donated to and fit inside of a toddler. Many people we speak with about our story have been shocked by this fact.
Matilda was in the NICU for her first 100 days of life, and we knew the day after she was born that her kidneys were not functioning and she was going to eventually need a transplant. It was a long 2 years of hospital stays and dialysis. But I knew early on I wanted to be the one to save my little girl’s life, as long as I was a good match. We had to wait 2 years for Matilda to grow and meet minimum size requirements for transplant and grow big enough for my kidney to fit inside of her abdomen.
I was very relieved to find out I was a match for Matilda. I was grateful to be in good health and approved to donate my kidney to my daughter and get her off of dialysis. She was on dialysis for over 2 years for 10 hours every night. It started when she was a few months old up until transplant in June 2023.
We are really happy to not have to do the dialysis anymore and to be able to give her a more normal life. We are now able to travel and take her places and no longer have to worry about dialysis.
Her recovery post-transplant is going very well. The kidney is working great and she thankfully hasn’t had any major issues. She’s really thriving post-transplant and she has grown significantly, eating much better and has an appetite, and her words and vocabulary have improved dramatically.
My recovery was good as well. I was discharged from the hospital within two days of surgery. The pain I experienced was not as severe as I anticipated and I felt fully back to “normal” after just a few weeks. I actually had another unrelated surgery on my arm a few weeks ago; the pain and recovery for that was significantly worse than the recovery from the kidney surgery. It took me longer to recover from arm surgery than the kidney donation surgery.
I live an active lifestyle, so one thing that was tough for me was not being able to lift weights or run for six to eight weeks after the transplant. Once the six-week mark came, I was able to work out as normal and play golf again.
Living kidney donation is a life-saving act and is life-changing for the recipient. I would urge anyone who is considering living kidney donation to go through the evaluation to see if living donation is a possibility. Currently, there are about 1,200 pediatric patients waiting on a kidney transplant in the United States. You could change the life of a child. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a parent as a match. Your generosity can make a significant difference in someone’s life, and can even save a child’s life.