kidney donation · Kidney donation and recovery · kidney transplant

Four years since the kidney transplant

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By Michelle Rogers, Kidney Donor

It has been four years since Nancy Noble and I were at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak during the wee hours of April 2 preparing for surgery. It seems like yesterday, but then it doesn’t because so much has happened since that day. A move to Northern California and a new job, and then Southern California for a promotion and new job, brought more change for me than donating a kidney ever would. Moving three times in three years is brutal to say the least.

To update y’all, we’re both doing great. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to help Nancy and advocate for kidney donation. Whenever I have a speaking engagement, I casually drop it in — not to brag that I did something the average person might not do because I do think the average person would do it if there was more awareness — but to let everyone I encounter know that there are people who need a kidney transplant and this is how to help.

For me as a donor, there were no bumps in the road; no hiccups. It was smooth sailing. I was out of the hospital in a few days and back to work in a few weeks. My only reminder is a long scar across my belly and two small scars a little higher up. Also, I had to switch from Excedrin, which is a NSAID, to Tylenol because Excedrin is hard on the kidneys. Beyond that, I am just supposed to keep an eye on my blood pressure and glucose level because if they get out of control, it can damage my remaining kidney. But that’s true for people with two kidneys, too.

So, four years later, life is great. I am living the dream in California. After getting laid off from my job with Digital First Media in Michigan right after the surgery, I landed in a great spot. It took just a month or so to find the perfect opportunity in Redding, California, at the Record Searchlight working as a content editor. There I had the opportunity to lead our social media and community engagement strategy, and even had the great honor of my 530 Media Project earning honorable mention in Editor and Publisher’s “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” series.

Two years later, I was tapped for a new position at the Ventura County Star in Southern California, part of the same media chain, working as a consumer experience director. This opportunity has led to a lot of new experiences and professional growth as I have overseen the launch of two podcasts, a foodie e-newsletter, a Facebook Messenger chat bot and several unique events around our journalism, including the Ventura Storytellers Project.

The cherry on top has been making the move here official by purchasing a condominium in Ventura, just 8.5 miles from the beach.

I strongly believe that you get what you give in life. I helped sustain a life, or at least helped a person live a longer life, and now I am living the life I dreamed of having — with my boyfriend of seven years, my kidney recipient’s brother, Jim Walsh (pictured below on the right).

Nancy calls me her “soul sister” and that we are.

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My 2-year anniversary is April 2, 2016

By Nancy Noble, Kidney Recipient

Hello everybody! I’m so excited to report that everything is going great. The year has flown by.  All of my blood work has been great.  Creatinine levels are super. I’ve even graduated to six-month visits to the nephrologist.

I am still managing the diabetes from the anti-rejection meds. The doctor is lowering my prednisone to 5 mg in April, so hopefully that will help with the high glucose.

I’ve had a very healthy winter.  I haven’t had any bad colds, even though I work in an elementary school.  Every once in a while, I get a little tug where the new kidney is — just a little reminder that it’s there saying H E L L O.

Shout-out to Michelle, my sister angel.  I can’t wait to see her this summer!

Bye for now.

 

Beaumont Hospital · kidney transplant

Kidney transplant two years later

Nancy, second from left, sits across from me  last March when we celebrated our one-year anniversary since the kidney transplant. She is pictured next to her daughter, Sarah, and husband, Mark. I am sitting next to her brother, Jim Walsh.
Nancy, second from left, sits across from me last summer, when we celebrated our one-year anniversary since the kidney transplant. She is pictured next to her daughter, Sarah, and husband, Mark. I am sitting next to her brother, Jim Walsh, my significant other.

By Michelle Rogers, Kidney Donor

I can’t believe it has been two years since I donated my kidney to Nancy Noble. Time has flown by and there have been many changes in my life, from relocating to a new state to a new job and professional successes.

I don’t think about having only one kidney very much because as soon as I healed from the surgery, my body was back to normal. The only lasting physical reminder is a scar at the incision site.

But in the last month, I’ve had occasion to remember and reflect. The former police chief in the city where I now live, Redding, California, is in need of a kidney and his story is a reminder that there are tens of thousands of people in need. As of January, the number of people waiting for kidney transplants stood at 100,791. And there is a five-year wait for those on the transplant list.

Bob’s family has created a Facebook page to help find a donor, “Robert P. Blankenship, let’s save his life.” When I first saw it, I was compelled to share my story and offer support. The Record Searchlight, the newspaper I work for, also published a story about his plight, “Despite his pride, former police chief is ready to ask for help.”

And good news. His family recently wrote on Facebook:

“Another week has flown by. Heard from UC Davis and Sutter, CPMC late last week. Several people have completed the pre-screening process for UC Davis and Sutter. We are so excited about the prospect of maybe finding a live kidney donor match or pairing. We thank God every day for our friends and family who have been incredibly supportive and encouraging. Waiting and being patient is not always easy. Keep the prayers and good wishes coming we truly appreciate them all. More news as we hear from one of both of the hospitals regarding transplant.”

I sure hope Bob gets the positive outcome Nancy has had. I’ve asked her to update this blog, so hopefully she will soon. She’s doing great, though, and recently joked that I couldn’t have my kidney back because it was happy in its new home.

As part of hitting the two-year anniversary since donating, Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, where our operations took place, requires that my regular doctor run a few tests to ensure my remaining kidney is operating properly and has picked up the slack. My doctor has given me the thumbs up and sent the results to Michigan, so I am just waiting on the transplant center to give final confirmation. But no worries here.

Nancy and I plan to celebrate our milestone in August, when I return for a visit. I am looking forward to a spa day and simply seeing her live her life. That, after all, is the greatest gift. I am so grateful I could help and my — um, her — kidney is doing what it was destined to do — save a life.

Here Nancy Noble, my kidney recipient, sits with her mother, Maureen Hirsch, at a gathering in her home last summer.
Here Nancy Noble, my kidney recipient, sits with her mother, Maureen Hirsch, at a gathering in her home last summer.
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Reaching a milestone: One year since the kidney transplant

By Michelle Rogers
Kidney donor

This month marked a milestone for me and Nancy as we celebrated the year anniversary since I donated one of my kidneys to her. It’s a time to celebrate, indeed, since everything has gone wonderfully and she hasn’t had any major complications.

In March, while visiting Michigan for Nancy’s mom’s birthday, we celebrated with a Spa Day. I got a facial and she had a massage. Then we went out for brunch. It was wonderful to see her healthy and with so much more energy.

Beaumont Health System, the hospital that did the transplant, published a piece yesterday written by its public relations staff marking our milestone and the one-year anniversary of another successful transplant. The writer ended the article with my quote:

“A few weeks of healing time and putting my regular routine on hold in exchange for knowing I helped someone live a longer life. Now that’s priceless.”

Read the story in its entirety here.

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7 weeks since the kidney transplant

By Nancy Noble
Kidney Recipient

It has been over 7 weeks since the kidney transplant and I feel really good. The incision is completely healed and it looks really good.

I am pretty much back to normal. I have been able to work in the garden, but while wearing a mask and always wearing gloves. I am walking daily one to two miles at a slower rate than what I usually walk, but that’s OK.

All my lab work is really good except my glucose is fluctuating, probably because we are still trying to adjust my prograf (anti-rejection medication). I am going to the clinic weekly for labs and seeing the doctor every four weeks.

I am looking forward to relaxing this summer as I am not back to work until September.

kidney disease · kidney donation · kidney transplant

Feeling better every day after kidney transplant

By Nancy Noble
Kidney recipient

It’s been three weeks since my surgery and I am feeling a lot better.

Nancy Noble with her husband, Mark. Nancy had a kidney transplant April 2, 2014.
Nancy Noble with her husband, Mark. Nancy had a kidney transplant April 2, 2014.
My pain is pretty minimal and I am only taking one pain pill a day. I have been walking in my neighborhood two blocks twice a day. I also seem to have more energy, probably because the pain is less.

Most of my labs have come back very good. Before the transplant, I was on three blood pressure pills. Now, I check my blood pressure in the morning and at night, and I only take the medicine if my blood pressure is at a certain level. So far, I have only needed to take one of the blood pressure medicines about every third day. Super kidney!

Unfortunately, my glucose level has been high, so I am on a medicine to help lower it. Hopefully, this will help.