A Letter to My Sister, My Daughter’s Kidney Donor
I have memories of us as little girls playing outside together, digging up dirt, jumping off the rope swing in the back yard and fighting over who was mom’s favorite. I never would have thought that one day you would be my daughter’s kidney donor and save her life. A million reasons popped in my head for why you shouldn’t go through with the testing. I couldn’t imagine my little sister doing this. I knew it would be a major surgery. You didn’t even think twice. It was like you already knew you were a match. You knew from the start that everything would be okay.
How it all began
You were there the day Faith was born. We almost lost her. We learned she was in kidney failure and would eventually need a transplant. You have stood on the sideline watching as our family struggled through this journey with Faith. Surgery after surgery you have checked in and asked what you could do for us. Faith was three when she was placed on the deceased donor’s list.
After waiting 2 ½ years, Faith received her first transplant and less than a year later, she went into rejection. She battled with rejection a few times and suffered from chronic infections due to her urological status and low immune system. Eventually her transplant started to fail and you witnessed how hard dialysis was on all of us. Taking 2 ½ hour cab rides 3 to 4 times a week for dialysis, lasting for 4 hours, left her feeling weak and lethargic. While we were all thankful that dialysis was able to keep her alive during our search for a kidney donor, it was not an easy way to live.
Finding a match
We already knew from the first kidney transplant that both Faith’s dad and I were not a match, although they allowed us to be worked up a second time, with similar results. A sweet friend was also tested and unfortunately denied. Everyone else had been tested already or had health issues that would not allow them to be a kidney donor. We were at a loss.
You never even crossed my mind. Faith was to have surgery over 400 miles away from home. You had a family of your own and a very demanding job – I couldn’t fathom asking this of you. But I never had to—you asked me! After I gave you the donor coordinator info things moved so quickly it felt like everything happened over night.
Being kindred spirits
You and Faith have always had a typical aunt and niece relationship but now you are kindred spirits. I love how you joke about things like Faith’s taste buds changing and how you both love spicy Cheetos now. Or how you check in to see if Faith has been feeling okay because you just get “a feeling”. I think my favorite inside joke is when Faith’s doctor tells her to drink more water and you swear the kidney just needs more coffee because it is probably in withdrawal.
You are an amazing soul who put your entire life on hold for our family. It is because of you that I was able to kiss my little girl on the cheek as she left for school today. It is because of you that I was able to watch Faith perform at her first dance performance. And it is because of you that I will get to do this again and again! Faith is growing into an amazing young woman and it is all possible because of your willingness to be a kidney donor. I may never be able to repay you, but I will never forget what you have done.
There will never be enough words to thank you for being her kidney donor. The act of organ donation is one of the most selfless gifts one could ever give and it is a sacrifice that cannot be repaid. I hope that you know how eternally grateful I am for what you have done.
We love you from the bottom of our hearts, and clearly, the debate is over. You’re obviously mom’s favorite.