I was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 13.
I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, it's called. I learned that I would someday have to have a kidney transplant.
I was on the waitlist for about a year and a half. I was told to get on the transplant list in January of 2009. My donor came forward to me in July of 2010 and the surgery was in September.
I decided to donate my kidney because I'd always been passionate about the field of transplant. My career has been spent in transplant. It was something that I thought I would do when I died, but when I discovered that I had a family member who needed a kidney transplant, I was very excited about the opportunity to be able to be a donor.
I was a non-directed donor, which means I didn't have any idea who my recipient was going to be. The only information they could give me was that it was a mother in Baltimore.
I donated in February of 2017. And how do I feel about the decision? I feel like I got more than I gave. I think it was a good decision for me.
I donated a year ago this past September. It's probably one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.
Graphic: the words Coming together to share their experiences are added to the screen
I think it's important for me to tell my story to others who are in situations similar to what I was in eight years or so ago, to let them know that they're not walking alone.
I think that allowing recipients who are waiting or people who are contemplating becoming living donors, allowing them the opportunity to hear other people's stories is really what connects us all.
This is something I wish I had when I was going through the transplant process and getting approved for donation. And so I know that this is really going to move people and help people on a significant level
The one thing that a peer can give you that a set of doctors cannot is real life experience. The doctors have a great deal of knowledge, but unless by coincidence one of them actually underwent a transplant, they were never the one who was on the table.
It's about education. It's about empowering and advocating for yourself so that you and your healthcare team can make the best decision for you.