Thanks to C Lee Reed at Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad for posting my guest article on their blog about my 4-year-old daughter’s intelligent, compassionate, and often funny way of understanding that I’m donating a kidney to my wife, her mom Amy.
I’m Donating a Kidney to my Wife Amy Next Week
by Jason DidnerMarrying Amy and adopting Holly are easily the two most important things I’d done in my life up until now. These days, a new decision has been presented to me and the choice was clear. In order to preserve my wife’s precious life and give my very young daughter a mother who can get down on the floor and play with her unfettered by dialysis machines and chronic fatigue, the moment of truth has come where I have the power to give my family the future it deserves, just by saying ‘yes’ and accepting the experiences that comes with that choice. This is the choice that protects the other two most important choices I’ve ever made. We’ve known since early in our marriage that Amy was experiencing steadily declining kidney functioning as a complication of Type 1 Diabetes, which she’s had since age 8. About 2 years ago, we were instructed to start seeing a kidney specialist regularly and consider the merits of a kidney transplant. Amy’s excellent diabetes specialist, Dr. Joseph Giangola, suggested that Amy could be a good candidate for a kidney-and-pancreas transplant. Both would come from the same donor, who would have to be deceased in order to donate the pancreas. Typically, victims of accidents who have indicated in their lifetimes a willingness to donate organs are the donors of these precious organs.
A kidney-pancreas transplant offers the added benefit of temporarily “curing” type 1 diabetes for as long as the transplanted pancreas functions, which is currently in the 5-10 year range.
Over the course of several months, we started making very frequent trips to Hackensack University Medical Center’s transplant team to get Amy checked out through numerous medical tests to ensure a transplant and its effects would likely be safe for her. All our efforts had gone toward becoming a recipient for a deceased person’s kidney and pancreas. A discussion with the transplant team’s kidney doctor, however, brought up another concern: As Amy’s kidney deficiencies made her progressively more exhausted while facing the daily challenges of raising a toddler, this was a sign that her kidney decline might be reaching a critical point – a point where perhaps she’d have to start dialysis until a matching kidney/pancreas from a deceased person might come along.
There would be only one controllable alternative to dialysis, given the unpredictable nature of deceased organs becoming available. A living, healthy person would have to consent to donating a kidney. That person could be a relative or a total stranger. The blood type would have to match and the antibodies would have to be compatible.
I agreed to become an option, a fallback plan, in case a deceased kidney and pancreas would not work out by the time she’d absolutely need either a transplant or dialysis. I began the process of getting tested and interviewing with doctors and social workers. It was discovered that we were in fact a compatible match and I could donate my kidney directly to Amy.
To the best of everybody’s current knowledge, my life expectancy will remain as it already is, even after donating a kidney. My remaining kidney will grow in size and capability in the coming months, able to effectively rid my body of toxins enough to last a lifetime. Now probably won’t be a great time to take up cage fighting or motorcycle racing, as I have to protect my remaining kidney from injury.
The transplant is set for Tuesday morning, 5/26 at Hackensack University Medical Center. Amy and I will be operated on in neighboring operating rooms.
There have been gigs to cancel, substitute performers to find, help to prepare (me asking for household help…YIKES!), documentation to write for a consultant who will be available to deal with the technological emergencies that come up in a workplace. There’s been plenty of worry that I can’t prepare adequately. But once we get picked up to check in to the hospital, all that will change to “just being. Just healing.”For Amy that recovery process will take longer but I understand that by the 2nd day after surgery, she’ll really feel the benefits of the kidney working like it hasn’t since her mid-20s. I remember reading a story of a dad who needed a kidney and as his kidney function continued to decline, all he could do was sleep. Now after surgery he was playing basketball with his son for the first time ever. This story is strong inspiration to me that Amy and Holly can have an energetic relationship like never before. Amy’s favorite game since childhood has been tennis and I have hopes that she’ll rekindle that love for the game and share it with Holly.
Over the next several months I’ll continue sharing my thoughts and stories about this point in my family and personal life. I hope the sharing of these experiences bring you inspiration and knowledge that benefit you and your family as well.
What are your most important life decisions and what effect did those choices have on your life? What important choices lie ahead for you? I’d love for you to join in the discussion by commenting below.
For more information about organ and tissue donation, see the New Jersey Sharing Network.
Tomorrow I will have a truly unique experience in preparing to give an out-of-town concert this weekend. Thanks to the power of the Internet, I will be in my home studio having a live rehearsal with two musicians in Washington, D.C. who will power my band for this concert. “Uncle Devin” Walker and “Wonderful Wardell” Howell will be at Devin’s place in D.C., connected to me in real-time using the JamKazam computer application. Using microphones, headphones, and our Internet connections, we’ll be able to interact almost like we’re all three performing together in the same room.
Making music together in real time presents special challenges that go beyond the use of Skype or Facetime, where the experience of brief delays or “latency” is fairly common and usually not disruptive to a conversation. Those same little delays can throw off a band’s rhythm quite a bit when jamming together from different locations. To keep the JamKazam session running as smooth as possible, it’s important to plug a network cable directly into your Internet router (sometimes built right into the modem supplied by your Internet service provider) and not rely on the convenience of Wi-Fi, which also comes with its own little time delays when streaming audio or video.
This will be my first experience with JamKazam and I’m excited about the possibilities this opens to connect with fellow musicians in a new and inspiring way. In this case it means that our impromptu band for next weekend can be well rehearsed ahead of my trip to the D.C. area. In my case, I’m counting on JamKazam to meet a specific need in prepping for a show with musicians I’ve already become familiar with. But JamKazam can also connect musicians with like-minded musicians with similar tastes and levels of mastery. The search tools make it possible to look for musicians to jam with on a specific instrument or in a geographic location. The folks at JamKazam told me that video capability is coming about 2 months from the time this article is published.
If you’re in the D.C. area and have kids who could use some good family entertainment, come out and rock with us at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA this Saturday. We take the stage at 10:30. This is a one-of-a-kind show where my Jersey style, Bruce Springsteen influenced rock-n-roll for kids will meet the funk/jazz/R&B stylings of my D.C. friends. I’m calling this show “Jersey Jason Meets the D.C. Jungle Gym Jam.”
Would you like a free sampling of my music? Help yourself to three of my songs at http://www.njkindiemusic.com/dc-area.
How has the Internet connected you and your family with people who live outside your area? What are your hopes for the possibilities the Internet holds in connecting people? Please share your comments below.
Check out the Children’s Section at Washington Street & 3rd Street!
This Sunday, May 3, a bank parking lot becomes a very happy place for lots of kids & families as it does twice a year. What’s normally the site for routine errands will be alive with bouncing, sliding, riding, laughing, face painting, balloon twisting and dancing as the Hoboken Spring Arts & Music Festival kicks into gear.
There will be a bouncy house, jumbo inflatable slide, carnival rides, face painters, a sand art station and balloon artists. There will also be five top-notch children’s entertainment groups on the stage in the children’s section of the festival.
At noon, Erin Lee & the Up Past Bedtime Band will delight kids and their grown-ups with a highly interactive show filled with bubbles, confetti and a fine assortment of musical styles.
Garden Street School of the Performing Arts will entertain at 1:00, with their staff of teachers and managers putting on a show that will inspire you to enroll your kids to tap into their inner performer so they can learn to jam along.
My own band Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam will start at 2:00, playing an energetic show containing some fan favorites and introducing some brand new songs that celebrate summer fun, family travel, superheroes and more. Find out why Jim Testa from NJ.com named us one of his picks for the festival. Download three of our tracks for free so you can sing along with some of our tunes!
Stick around for Michael Napolitano and Preschool of Rock, a very popular early childhood music teacher who offers classes in Hoboken. Michael’s group sold out the season opener of Maxwell’s Mini Music Mondays with a thrilling family-oriented show last winter.
At 4, Carol Lester will belt out her award-winning songs for the enjoyment of kids & families taking in the late afternoon time at the festival.
The live entertainment for kids wraps up in thrilling fashion with Little Club Heads, who will transform the kids section into a full blown dance club party perfect for children and their grown-ups, starting at 5:00.