Wynie's Story

Wynie and Lia celebrating three years after their successful kidney donation and transplant surgeries.

Wynie and Lia celebrating three years after their successful kidney donation and transplant surgeries.

Name: Wynie Vorsteveld
City/Town: Derry, New Hampshire
Current Age: 57
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, business owner
Date of Donation: January 8, 2015
Hospital and Location: Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts


Did you know your recipient?
I have known my recipient, Lia, since 2003. She is my next-door neighbor.

What made you decide to donate?
I was visiting with Lia one day in late July 2014, just to see how she was doing. I knew she had been on dialysis for some time. She told me that she was looking for a kidney donor, but had no success in finding a match among close friends and relatives. That evening, we discovered we had the same blood type, and I agreed that at least I would get tested. It seemed to me that would be the least I could do for a neighbor and friend. Lia was very excited, but I thought, "Not so fast." I was not really expecting we would ever be a match. I had the idea that it was extremely hard for people to be a match. 

Was it a tough decision? 
It ended up not being a really tough decision because the testing went smoothly and everything just fell into place. I am a Christian, and I felt that God was guiding me along through the whole process of becoming a donor. I received much encouragement at the weekly small group prayer meeting at my church, and together we prayed for a smooth process and successful outcome for both donor and recipient. 

What were your biggest concerns about donating?
A big concern for me was trying to decide whether I should donate to Lia or not, just in case one of my kids should ever need a kidney. I decided that since no one in my family has signs of kidney disease, it would be extremely unlikely a family member would need a kidney, and if that scenario would present itself, my kids could donate to each other. Another concern was having surgery itself, being my first time having surgery, and what to expect after surgery in terms of how I would feel and function. 

How did your family and friends react when you told them you were going to donate?
Friends reacted mostly with comments of being in awe and that they “could never do that.” My husband, our children, and extended family were very supportive of my decision to donate. Having a member of our extended family and an acquaintance with kidney problems, there already was some familiarity with this medical condition and made it easier to provide support. 

Wynie, left, and Lia, two days after surgery

Wynie, left, and Lia, two days after surgery

How did your surgery go? 
The surgery went well, with no complications. 

What was your recovery like while you were in the hospital?
My recovery in the hospital went fairly well. I discovered that my stomach does not like narcotics. I could not really eat anything until I stopped taking the meds, about 24 hours after surgery, and they had worked themselves out of my system. Tylenol became my drug of choice at that point. 

What was your recovery like at home?
Recovering at home went well. My daughter stayed with me for a week while my husband returned to work. We (mostly her) did some sewing projects and just hung out. I stopped taking Tylenol within a week of having surgery. It was easier to deal with some pain than having my head spin constantly. 

What was the most difficult part of recovery?
I did not have much difficulty recovering, although it seemed to take a while. I experienced dull aches and pains for about five months and wondered if that was normal or if something was not quite right. After those disappeared, my body felt the same as before surgery. 

When did you return to work?
I just slowly started back at the things I needed to do. If I had a regular job, it would probably not have taken more than two months to return to work. 

How long was the process from making the first contact about donating until your surgery?
It was a little over five months from that initial visit with Lia and chatting about the search for a donor to having surgery. 

Is there anything about being a kidney donor that's surprised you?
What has surprised me most about being a kidney donor is the inner joy I have for having been allowed to be part of something truly remarkable. 

Would you do it again?
I would do it again in a heartbeat!