A Match – Our Kidney Story: Part 3

On August 28 a special post popped up on my Facebook feed that Michael was officially on the organ transplant list! While I’d never changed my mind about wanting to be tested, it wasn’t at the front of my mind between April and August. But as soon as I saw this post, the same peace came that I still wanted to see if I was a match.

I contacted Michael’s transplant team at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, who then connected me to their partnering adult hospital, St. Louis University Hospital.

In my naivety, I thought that a blood draw would be the determining factor of whether or not I was a match.  And if I was a match, I just assumed I’d be able to donate.

I’d never considered that even if I was a match they would have to make another decision of whether or not I was a good candidate for the surgery.

It became comforting once I understood why they were running so many tests. It is one thing to send someone into surgery who needs it and a whole different thing to send someone into surgery who doesn’t need it.

Not only were they wanting to protect me from the risks of surgery, they were making sure I wasn’t at risk for kidney disease in the future. And for Michael’s sake, the more information they know about my health, the better.

Fairly early on in the process I learned that my kidney was a match for Michael. That was exciting, but quickly felt like the easy part.

They are quite conservative about accepting someone as a living donor. They test EVERYTHING. After each test I awaited the phone call to see if I was still eligible and with each call, I became more and more nervous that they would deem me ineligible.

I probably went to SLU Hospital a total of 7 times for blood draws, urinalysis, EKG, chest x-ray, MRI, psychological exam …

During this time, Michael’s family didn’t know I was being tested, but I was already emotionally invested in this…I prayed and tried hard to trust and have peace that God’s hand was in this no matter the outcome.

So, in the course of these two months I met with a nephrologist, surgeon, dietician, social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, financial advisor and living donor advocate, all of whom were coordinated through a kind lady named Cody who juggles way too many schedules.

To get final approval to be Michael’s donor, all 9 of those people gathered in a room to decide together.

On October 26 (nearly 2 months after my first phone call to the hospital) Cody called to tell me that I was officially approved!

I was planning on waiting until we had a surgery date before telling Michael’s family, but it of course is more complicated than that…and it would be awhile before we had a date, so I decided to tell them.

So that night I FaceTimed Sarah (Michael’s mom) to tell her. At this point, we’d only met each other  twice. My stomach churned so bad waiting to called her. I was excited and terrified.

I thought maybe she would have an inkling as to why I was calling, but turns out she had NO idea, so I think shock best describes our conversation.

I remember saying “Michael – God has been hearing all of your prayers and I am going to give you my kidney!”

I don’t think Sarah believed me…or even could believe me!  Initially she thought I was saying that I was going to get tested. It felt SO good to tell her that no, I was officially approved! I am so happy that I waited to tell them; I hope it spared them months of excess anxiety.

Now we waited for a surgery date.  Again, I underestimated the process.

To spare you the agonizing details, we had to wait for Michael to gain a little weight…then gain a little length…and finally the surgeon scheduled surgery for January 17…which is finally right around the corner.



4 replies
  1. joan flesh
    joan flesh says:

    Hi Robin Jill Flesh’s mom here. Just wanted to say, as have so many others, how amazing you are. More positive thoughts going your and Michael’s way…am positive all will be as it should be and all will be well. Give your brave mom a hug from me. Joan Flesh. Go fund me page?

  2. Brittany
    Brittany says:

    You are a wonderful human being Robyn. There are no words to say how amazing you are. As a mother and as a kidney disease sufferer thank you.


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