My 2-year anniversary is April 2, 2016

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.


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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.

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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Poll: Do you know someone with kidney disease?

March is Kidney Disease Awareness Month, and as Nancy and I celebrate our successful one-year anniversary since I donated one of my kidneys to her, I was curious how many people know of someone with kidney disease.

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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.

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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.

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Beaumont Health System features kidney donor, recipient on website

By Michelle Rogers
Kidney donor

I became acquainted with Beaumont Health System’s media relations coordinator, Mark Geary, on Twitter just before he started his job with the hospital. He was searching what people were saying on the social networking site about his new employer and I happened to be tweeting about my and Nancy Noble’s upcoming surgery. The relationship has resulted in a fantastic piece, coordinated by Mark, on the hospital’s website that gives Nancy and I a platform to share our story in an effort to encourage more people to consider live kidney donation.

What I like about the story and video, packaged together here, is that, contrary to the WDIV Channel 4 news piece, it incorporates information from one of the doctors, Dilip Samarapungavan, involved in Nancy’s kidney transplant.

“People doing something special purely out of the goodness of their hearts, purely because they know it’s the right thing to do, on a human level, is so incredible,” Samarapungavan is quoted as saying in Mark’s piece. “The data is actually very clear. If you’re healthy and all of your testing is normal at the time of donation, people who donate kidneys do excellent. It doesn’t have any long-term impact on their health, in general.”

Information from the experts and specialists involved is critical to a well-rounded piece, and improves the understanding of readers.

It’s my and Nancy’s hope that we will inspire more people to consider live kidney donation. For more information on Beaumont’s transplantation services, visit the hospital’s website.

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Going back to work after donor nephrectomy

By Michelle Rogers
Kidney donor

I’ll be going back to work Monday, 19 days after donating my kidney to Nancy Noble April 2 at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. It’s about nine days earlier than expected and to the surprise of many people around me, but not me. I’ve been determined since the beginning to go back as soon as possible, but needed to wait for my doctor’s appointment April 15 to ask for the go-ahead.

My follow-up appointment was Tuesday with Dr. Steven Cohen, the surgeon. Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 9.48.21 PMI had to give blood and urine samples, and he checked my incision site and asked me how I was feeling. It was a little rough driving the hour to get there — hitting all of those potholes and being jostled around while still healing — but otherwise I felt fine. He agreed to let me go back to work the following Monday, giving me Wednesday through Sunday to continue to recover and ease back into my daily routine.

And get back into my routine, I did. Immediately.

Later that same day, I had an appointment to have my hair cut, colored and highlighted. On Wednesday, I went shopping at the mall, but didn’t find anything that fit right, probably because I am still a little swollen, or at least that’s what I told myself. On Thursday, I went grocery shopping and did some housecleaning. Friday was more shopping, but this time with a friend, and I had a great evening with friends at the Tigers’ baseball game at Comerica Park. More shopping and cleaning today, and tomorrow is Easter, so my boyfriend and I will spend brunch with my mother.

As you can see, I am feeling like my old self — doing more shopping than laying around in bed — and now I am ready to dive into work.

I am ready to get out of sweats and back into professional attire.

I am ready to get out of sweats and back into professional attire.

I am a little nervous about what that will entail since the community media lab I was running was shut down just as I was going on medical leave, and I’ll have a new gig going back. I am still waiting to find out exactly what that will entail. I am usually excited about change and new endeavors, but I’ve been out of the loop and not involved in the planning process while on medical leave, so I don’t feel as confident or in control as I usually do.

I keep telling myself whatever will be, will be, and not to sweat it. I take comfort in my decision to donate one of my kidneys to my boyfriend’s sister, my fast recovery process and opportunity to finally get out of pajamas, leggings and workout clothes and back into professional attire, even though I didn’t end up buying anything new.

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Recouperating at home after kidney transplant

By Nancy Noble
Kidney recipient

I have been home from the hospital for a week now. It is nice to be home. I think each day is a little better than the last.

It’s kinda hard to tell if the pain is better or not. I am able to get around the house better and have been walking on my street. Today I walked from corner to corner, which I think was pretty good!

I am also doing more things for myself — taking my blood pressure and my meds on my own. I have been making my own lunches and breakfast, too. Sarah helped Mark out today and vacuumed. First time ever! I vacuumed for my mom all the time. Kids are different these days. I’m sure Sarah thought it was a big deal, but she did a great job without complaint.

Sarah goes back to school tomorrow, so we will be back into the schedule of school. Mark goes back to work, also. So far, all my blood work has come back great and even though I need to go to the lab twice a week for blood work, the doctor doesn’t need to see me for two weeks. I guess that’s a good sign that he is happy with my progress. My blood pressure has been really good, too. I haven’t had to take blood pressure medicine for three days. Yeah, Michelle’s kidney is supercharged!

Stay tuned for further updates.

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Recovering from nephrectomy

By Michelle Rogers
Kidney donor

Yesterday marked the one-week anniversary since my nephrectomy as I donated my kidney to my boyfriend’s sister, Nancy Noble. I came home on Saturday and the last five days have been pretty uneventful. For the most part, I’ve stayed in bed, keeping entertained on my iPhone. Today, I decided to pull out my laptop and finally write an update.

Jim Walsh, my boyfriend, has been serving as my caregiver, which basically means he’s making my meals and taken on all the household chores — for now. I don’t think this is going to last much longer as he has seen I am pretty capable of doing all of this myself, I just haven’t felt like it. I feel a bit lazy, but I keep telling myself I have every right to milk this as long as I can because, after all, I just donated a kidney to his sister.

My pain has been relatively light. I can take hydrocodone every three hours, so up to eight a day, but I’ve been taking two or three per day.

This incision looks worse than it feels. It's about 4 inches long and was closed with surgical glue.

This incision looks worse than it feels. It’s about 4 inches long and was closed with surgical glue.

My incisions, where the surgeon cut my torso for the laparoscopic surgery, are healing fast, but don’t look very pretty. I am glad the doctors went with laparoscopy because, from what I’ve read and experienced, the amount of pain medication required, time in the hospital and time to return to work is significantly shorter, and cosmetic results are supposed to be better.

I have my first follow-up appointment with the doctor on Tuesday. I think everything is going pretty well. I haven’t had a lot of pain and the incisions are healing fast. I don’t expect there to be any problems.

For having undergone this major surgery just eight days ago, I am surprised to feel almost totally back to normal. I want people to know this wasn’t a big deal. Yeah, it’s a little more involved than donating blood, but probably equivalent to giving birth, maybe even easier — and you don’t have an 18-year commitment ahead of you.

Please consider the gift of life.

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