Walter P. Guinn
Date of Organ Donation: 2/21/019
Organ Donation story:
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease when I was in my mid-40s, the year was 2011. It was controlled with high blood pressure medicines for a couple of years.
In 2013 I had to make the decision of what dialysis treatment I would prefer. We went with home hemodialysis. The treatments were to be done at home with my wife in charge of hooking up, monitoring and unhooking me to the tubes in my arm and then to the machine.
First, I had to have surgery to form the fistula in my left arm in which the needles would be put in during treatments. Then in July of 2015, I had to begin the actual dialysis and it was then that my wife and I had to pass a six-week course to do these at home. My treatments were four times a week and lasted 3-4 hours each time.
There were a lot of days that I felt I was literally chained to the machine and my house. The treatments would leave me weak and sore. I had to go on short-term disability, then long-term and then I lost my job altogether. The job I worked at couldn’t work with my schedule anymore. I also missed out on some of my son’s games while he was in school and family time with the extended family. My life had become so different and lonely.
After so much time I was put on the transplant list through the Alan G. Birtch, MD Center for Transplant Services in Springfield, Illinois. The doctors and nurses there are the best around. The team kept a close eye on my health and mental wellness. I could call them anytime day or night with any questions or concerns I had. They have nurses on call 24/7.
During these years I would get calls that there could be a kidney available but my name was on the shortlist but to be in ready just in case. But in the end, someone else got those who were higher on the list and a better match. I was happy for them but there was disappointment for me. It was an emotional roller coaster but I kept my faith and hope in God and that he would see me through this and send me my perfect match in His perfect timing and He did.
On February 20, 2019 at 8:10 a.m. I got the call that there was a kidney available. That I was number one on the list. That this kidney was my perfect match! My wife and I just looked at each other … did we really hear them right?!? We had the nurse repeat it a couple of times to make sure. We were happy, excited, nervous and scared. After we hung up and calmed down we stopped and took time to pray for the family who were suffering a loss but who also had the loving and generous hearts to give the gifts of life to myself and to many others.
We were told to go straight to Memorial Medical Center to start the process. To have tests run, questions asked and to meet with the transplant team to find out what the next steps were. Dr. Marc Garfinkel and his team performed the surgery and at 12:08 a.m. on February 21 I received my new kidney. The surgery went great and I was only in the hospital for four days in recovery. I was treated by Bradford West and Rachel Bounds for the following stay in the hospital and still see them to this day. I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people who have become a second family to me.
I am on daily medicines and will be for the rest of my life to keep my body from rejecting my new kidney. I have to be careful around germs since my immunity is lower, but that is a small price to pay to have my old life back. No more dialysis or worries that my old kidneys continue to fail along with my health.
One of the things that has also changed for me is the amount I can drink. While on dialysis you are limited to the amount of liquid you can have per day and that total includes any foods that have liquids in them like ice cream, fruits and even the ice cubes in a drink.
It has been two years since my transplant and I am still doing well. My medicines need to be tweaked every now and then but that is a small thing compared to where I was before my transplant. My life has done a complete 180 and it is wonderful.
To this day we still give thanks and pray for the donor’s family. We don’t know them but hope their lives have become easier and the memories they have of their loved one helped them through. We will be forever grateful and thankful for the wonderful gift of life I received. My family and I want to encourage everyone reading this to please think about signing up to become an organ donor and to be sure to let your loved ones know of your choice. You can also be a living donor of blood, bone marrow and certain organs which are needed just as much.