Name: Mimi Mahon
City/Town: Boston, Massachusetts
Current Age: 29
Occupation: Assistant Fitness Director/College Softball Coach
Date of Donation: January 4, 2017
Hospital and Location: Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
Did you know your recipient?
What made you decide to donate?
I decided to donate one of my kidneys so my mom could receive the best possible match in the quickest time possible.
My mom became sick in Spring 2015. Although it is still difficult to say what exactly caused her kidneys to fail, the perfect storm of events occurred and caused her to become septic in the ICU and in end-stage renal failure.
Once my mom started doing better that summer, my triplet brother Chris and I flew with my mom to Savannah, Georgia, where my sister just had her first child. We were visiting with relatives in nearby Hilton Head, and as we got up to leave the restaurant, my mom went into sudden cardiac arrest. My sister Ali, who happens to work as a nurse in the ICU, began CPR immediately. She reacted so quickly and in such a smart way that she saved my mom’s life that night. She is THE TRUE HERO.
After again recovering from all of that, my family and I learned of the option of a kidney transplant for my mom. My mom was now in end-stage renal failure, and a kidney transplant would be her best bet at returning to her normal, healthy life. I had such a real feeling inside of me that I knew I was going to be the one to donate. I got tested right away and found out I was not a good direct match. We had several people offer to donate, which is incredible, but time after time it did not work out.
With the guidance and hard work of the transplant team at Christ Hospital, my mom and I were cleared to be put into the National Kidney Registry and quickly were matched with a chain of recipients and donors.
I decided to donate because my mom deserves a happy and healthy life—one in which she can enjoy her husband, five children, and nine grandchildren and continue to run her own business. My mom is the most loving and selfless person so it was an easy decision. Selfishly, I want her to be in my life for as long as possible!
Was it a tough decision?
It was not a tough decision for me at all. My mom was fortunate to have several family members and friends step forward to donate, but they did not work out. After waiting for over a year, I called my transplant coordinator and begged to be able to move forward in the process. (I had already been tested early on, but was not a good match for my mom.) The entire time others were going through the process, I continued to hear a voice in my head telling me it was going to be me. I took my health and nutrition very seriously during that time to make sure that I was doing everything within my control to be healthy and able to do so. It turns out I was!
What were your biggest concerns about donating?
My biggest concerns were returning to my everyday life after surgery. I was a college strength and conditioning coach and softball coach at the time, which means I was very active every day. I was worried about not being able to do my job well while I healed. I also am an avid weightlifter, so I was very concerned I would not be able to return to my typical training routine. I have had to change things up significantly. I spend much more time doing core strengthening exercises and hip mobility, but I have no doubt my body will come back stronger than ever!
How did your family and friends react when you told them you were going to donate?
My mom and sister both just kept telling me that I didn’t have to do it. The truth is, I never felt like I had to. I always wanted to.
How did your surgery go?
My surgery went well, but I did have horrible back pain afterward. I was able to go home after two days, but again at home, the back pain came back. It was definitely the most pain I have ever experienced.
What was your recovery like while you were in the hospital?
I was treated incredibly by the nurses. I tried to avoid the strongest pain kill medication, but the back pain made that impossible. Next time, I would ask sooner!
What was your recovery like at home?
The second day I was home, I had a friend over, sat upright in a chair for hours and felt fine. The next day, I again had more visitors. By the fifth day, I actually went out to dinner with friends. Then I had a setback. That is when the back pain really set in. I just realized I needed to slow down and spent more time resting and eating to heal my body.
What was the most difficult part of recovery?
The back pain and returning to work.
When did you return to work?
I returned 3 ½ weeks after the surgery, which was way too soon. I thought because I was doing so well at home, that I would be fine to work. It was very difficult to stand at work, or even focus all day. I pushed through, but it was not until the six-week mark that I started feeling better.
How long was the process from making the first contact about donating until your surgery?
The process took five months.
Is there anything about being a kidney donor that's surprised you?
The only thing that has really surprised me is how little people know about living kidney donation. I think people feel like the surgery is far too risky and that one will not be the same afterward. It surprises me how many people don’t know what to say when I try to bring up being an organ donor. The other side affects I have dealt with since the surgery are all things that were discussed with me prior to surgery so I do feel I was prepared.
Would you do it again?
100 percent yes!