Wes' Story

Six months after donating a kidney, Wes felt fully recovered.

Six months after donating a kidney, Wes felt fully recovered.

Name: Wes Cunningham
City/Town: San Francisco, California
Current Age: 52
Occupation: Finance Director
Date of Donation: July 12, 2017
Hospital and Location: IU Health Hospital, Indianapolis 


Did you know your recipient?    
My recipient, Carole Tanner, and I went to college together at Franklin College. She was one year ahead of me. It’s a small school, so it's pretty easy to know most people. We became reacquainted several years ago via Facebook. We have many mutual friends, but I'd say we were acquaintances, not friends. Now, we are friends.  ;-)

What made you decide to donate?    
Carole had a need.  I would also say I’m at a stage of life that I'm definitely looking to give back. I'm also a people-oriented person. I believe people matter most. I felt instantly compelled to apply to be a donor when I learned that Carole was in need of a kidney.   

Was it a tough decision?   
No, it wasn’t a tough decision. I’m a pretty savvy person with knowledge of our healthcare system. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out that the transplant hospital knew what it was doing.   

What were your biggest concerns about donating?    
My biggest concern was that something would arise with Carole or me, causing my donation to be postponed or canceled.   

How did your family and friends react when you told them you were going to donate?   
Some apprehension at first. People really don’t have much familiarity with this procedure. It’s a shame that more don’t know how “easy” it is. People tend to emphasize the heroism of donating; that’s a bit troubling for me. Maybe the question should be why don’t more people donate? The need is pretty high, and the risk is low.  

How did your surgery go?  
There were no surprises at all. It was a routine surgery and recovery.  

What was your recovery like while you were in the hospital?    
I did quite a bit of sleeping, was a bit groggy, didn't have much appetite, but not much discomfort. The hospital was excellent at pain control. I never had any pain through surgery and recovery greater than three on a scale of 1-10.  

What was your recovery like at home?    
It involved a lot of up and down, napping, etc., for the first week. I had a rapid return to normal after that.  

What was the most difficult part of recovery?     
Probably getting the digestive system back to normal function. The anesthesia and pain meds are disruptive to it.  

When did you return to work?  
Two weeks after surgery.  

How long was the process from making the first contact about donating until your surgery?  
The process was seven months. It may have been longer than usual because Carole and I live 2000 miles apart and it was tricky getting all of my potential donor testing done with me living on the west coast.   

Is there anything about being a kidney donor that's surprised you? 
I’m surprised at how easy it was. Seriously. People think this is a heroic act, but it wasn’t that hard.
Would you do it again?    
Absolutely. I wish I had more kidneys to give.