Name: Kathy Blanchard
City/Town: Cincinnati / Colerain
Age at Donation: 31
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Date of Donation: June 13, 2017
Hospital and Location: Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, OH
Did you know your recipient?
Yes, he is my husband, and father of our three children.
What made you decide to donate?
I truly believe faith led me to donate.
Was it a tough decision? Why or why not?
Yes, and no. Obviously, he is my husband, and I wanted him to get better and was willing to do anything to help. But, early on I learned how important it would be for him to have an advocate and caretaker during the process, so I felt like that was my role. Also, we had two young children at home, so I didn’t think it was a great idea to have both parents out of commission, not able to pick up their children for six or more weeks.
But I felt led to get tested. There was something gnawing at me that said I was his match. I couldn’t lay in bed next to him without knowing, without getting tested. Then when it came up that I was a match, I felt if God brought me to it, He would get me (us) through it.
What were your biggest concerns about donating?
My biggest concern was how we would keep life moving for our two kids – ages 2 ½ and 5 at the time. I was concerned with not being able to pick up our children for several weeks after surgery. We were told we couldn’t lift more than 10 pounds for six weeks. Our son was still in a crib at that time so we quickly transitioned him to a toddler bed before surgery.
How did your family and friends react when you told them you were going to donate?
They all jumped in and asked how they could help. They quickly made plans to support us before, during and after.
How did your surgery go?
Better than expected! I was told that our whole process from the time my husband was put on the list, to the time we had surgery was one of the fastest and best examples of how things could go. I felt at peace when I was getting put to sleep. What felt like 15 minutes later (obviously it wasn’t) I was coming to and asking how my husband was. Once I knew he was good, I was good.
What was your recovery like while you were in the hospital?
I was sore but really listened to the advice to get up and get moving so I did. I overdid it a bit, then was sorer on day two. I got sick once, but that is because I don’t handle pain medicine well. I had visitors, but not all the time which was good. The only thing I wish my room was closer to my husband’s room, but it forced me to walk more to see him. Overall, everything went great.
What was your recovery like at home?
It was nice being back at home. The only thing I didn’t like was being away from my husband as he stayed in the hospital a couple of days longer than I did.
What was the most difficult part of recovery?
Physically, gas pains. Luckily, I had been warned, so I was ready for them. I would do a position like a yoga child’s pose but with my rear end in the air, and that seemed to help me. Mentally, the hardest part was not being able to do everything I normally could for my kids. I am very independent and try to do it all. Once I started feeling better (one to two weeks out) I wanted to do it all again but realized my body needed more time. Thankfully, we had a support system around us to work through it all.
When did you return to work?
In six weeks. I actually went back one day earlier than I was supposed to on accident.
How long was the process from making the first contact about donating until your surgery?
I am not sure the exact date I reached out about donating. My husband was told that he was "bad enough to be put on the list" January 12, 2017, and our surgery was June 13, 2017. So likely three months for me.
Is there anything about being a kidney donor that's surprised you?
No – the one thing I did learn though was that no one knows what another person is going through on the inside when they look ok on the outside. I ran into several friends shortly after surgery and their comment was, “You would have no idea that you just donated a kidney.” That stuck with me and has given me more grace towards others as you don’t know what is going on in people’s lives.
Would you do it again?
In a heartbeat.