Anita's Story

Kidney donor Anita and her recipient Howard, and their University of Cincinnati kidney transplant surgeons.

Kidney donor Anita and her recipient Howard, and their University of Cincinnati kidney transplant surgeons.

Name: Anita Bray Farrell
City/Town: Covington, Kentucky
Current Age: 52
Occupation: News Producer
Date of Donation: August 28, 2017
Hospital and Location: University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

Did you know your recipient? 
Howard Ain and I work together at WKRC-Local12, a Cincinnati television station. Long before working at Local 12, I saw Howard on television as the Troubleshooter. He helped people with consumer problems. This detail will be important later.

What made you decide to donate?
I was thinking about getting tested. I didn’t really know if I would be a candidate. Howard put something on Facebook about his need for a kidney. Someone commented about all the years he spent helping people that hopefully someone could step up and help him. Many of those who Howard helped had nowhere else to turn. Some faced financial ruin. 

Was it a tough decision? Why or why not? 
It really wasn’t a tough decision. My late mother was an X-ray technician, my aunt and sister are pharmacists, my brother-in-law, nephew and my dad’s significant other are all nurses. In high school and college, I worked for orthopaedic surgeons. I’d been around the medical profession my whole life, so the idea of major surgery wasn’t really an issue. 

Also, as I have gotten older, I have come to realize how blessed I am to have good health. I don’t suffer from any chronic conditions, allergies or anything else like that. I don’t take medication. In fact, when I was in the hospital one of my nurses commented on my history and the fact that there is nothing in it.

What were your biggest concerns about donating?
My biggest concern was something would go wrong with Howard. I didn’t want to be the cause of anything bad. I really didn’t have concerns about my health. The donor coordinator always emphasized that I could decide against it at any time.

How did your family and friends react when you told them you were going to donate?
Most were surprised, although a few said they weren’t. Everyone was very supportive. My dad’s significant other, Joyce, is a retired nurse. She worked on the renal floor and said she thought I’d be just fine.

How did your surgery go? 
My surgery went fine. I don’t remember leaving for the operating room. I got medication in the pre-op area, and that zapped my memory. I wish I’d been able to remember what the operating room looked like. My station was covering our surgery and, apparently, I gave a dirty look to the photographer as I was being wheeled out.

What was your recovery like while you were in the hospital?
My recovery went well. I was kept comfortable. Everyone was friendly and professional. My only complaint was being awakened at 4:05 am so the nurse could weigh me. My nephew (the nurse) explained that a doctor had ordered it and wanted it for rounds at 5 am (ha-ha). 

What was your recovery like at home?
Everything went great. I had co-workers and a sister who brought me food. I had an edible bouquet from the folks at the station so plenty of fresh fruit. I took it easy, but I’m very good at that. I did not have much pain. I took the strong pain killers prescribed for me for a couple of days and then managed with Tylenol. I didn’t have any problems with nausea. My appetite wasn’t great the first day or so but it was fine after that.

What was the most difficult part of recovery?
The most difficult part was constipation and a lack of energy. I was home but not able to do much because of restrictions on my lifting. Luckily I had lovely weather on my time off, so my husband took me to the park often to walk. They encourage you to walk, and there are only so many times you can walk up and down the hall at home. 

When did you return to work?
I was off for four weeks. I have a rather stressful job and didn’t feel I was able to return any sooner. I read somewhere about someone who donated a kidney on a Thursday and went back to work on Monday. My hat is off to that person.

How long was the process from making the first contact about donating until your surgery?
The first contact came in late May or early June. The testing took a while. It is very detailed. 

Is there anything about being a kidney donor that's surprised you?
Probably the number of people who said I was a hero and such like that. I really didn’t feel like it; I just was undergoing surgery. I’m also a bit of an introvert, so I had to get used to the attention.

I was also surprised at the advances in technology. The doctors talked like there was very little chance of rejection because medication had gotten that good. I was fascinated as Howard’s surgeon gave us details about what would happen.

Would you do it again?
I would most definitely do it again. I have a new motto: Quality Spare Parts.

35–55, Janice CragoAge 35–54