Facilitated by the University of Washington's public information editor, a television interview was scheduled to document the event. This was the first time two transplants had been done in the UW hospital at the same time with organs donated by living local donors. Publicizing the program and the event will hopefully bring awareness of the great work being done at our university's transplant program and also encourage more living donation. (I just typed loving donation accidentally but that's a pretty accurate description of it, too. 😊)
Our meeting was set to take place at the UW research facility at South Lake Union. Pat and I arrived a little bit early and were met and put into a conference room after going through a dark walkway. There was to be no catching sight of the other pair! They were in another room being interviewed by the TV crew (Matt Lorch of Q13 news in the Seattle area) and his photographer, Marc LeCuyer. When they finished, it was our turn. We were asked a lot of questions and given an opportunity to explain the circumstances leading up to the double transplant exchange. After that, we were taken into a room where Steve and Janis were waiting. I was nervous, but seeing their smiling faces waiting for us was so reassuring and I headed right to Janis for a hug.
We visited for a few minutes and Steve (my recipient) gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
The cameras rolled as they caught our initial reactions to each other and as we talked to the doctors who were there and looked at the poster sized photos of Janis' kidney being removed and readied to be placed into Pat. Amazing!
After all the tv stuff was finished, we continued to chat to each other and eventually decided to continue our conversation over lunch. We live about an hour south of town and Steve and Janis live a couple of hours north of town, so getting some nourishment before heading back out onto the road was a good idea! Janis' lovely daughter Taylor was along for the morning and we enjoyed getting to know her, too.
During these conversations, we discovered some amazing coincidences between us.
*Janis drives a Volvo S40 and we also have one.
*Janis had thyroid surgery to remove part of her thyroid gland and I had surgery to remove all of mine.
*I have been doing yoga for 16 years and love it. Janis recently started practicing.
*Taylor said "You both have the same pants on". Good observation - they looked identical.
*Janis mentioned that her health testing took longer to complete because the doctors had noticed a cyst on her right kidney and she had to have an extra ultrasound. I had the same thing! Usually left kidneys are removed for donation since they are easier to reach but we both gave up the right one.
*Janis works in the Costco bakery and I've eaten my share of bagels and muffins from there!
Our meeting was wonderful and couldn't have gone better, in my opinion. Steve and Pat shared dialysis experiences and surgery/recovery stories. Janis and I had a lot to share about the process of being approved for surgery, the excitement of finding out that there was another couple in the area that were perfect matches, and our recovery experiences. I recovered much easier and quicker than she did, due to the placement of my incision and I'm sorry she had more problems and pain. But I thank my Dr. Baktha for his excellent work and my great outcome.
Then we had the fun of watching our story (maybe more than once 😉) on the local tv news. It's always amazing when you see a couple of hours of interview footage condensed to a four minute story but they did some nice editing and I think it turned out well and got the word out about the University of Washington's wonderful transplant program and also the possibility of living donation. I don't think that many people think about living donors unless the opportunity hits them right in the face, but altruistic donors are saving lives of strangers every day. PSA: take care of your body and your health in case some day the opportunity arises for you to share. Drink lots of water for kidney health! And the lesson for the transplant recipients is "Live like your donor is watching." In this case, I keep an eye on Janis' former kidney (named Wilson) and she can keep an eye on mine (unnamed by me but Steve has my blessing to name it!)
Here is the story kindly provided to me for download by the folks at KCPQ Channel 13 in Seattle. Enjoy!