Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
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1The Shared Gift
Jeanie and Ken Wilson were married in June, 2002. The picture you see was taken in 2004 on their second wedding anniversary. A child, Mildred, was born to the couple in August of that year . She was their only child. At the time of this writing, she is 12, a student in junior high school. She is doing well and is a joy to her parents. Jeanie and Ken had met when they were both employed by the State Labor Department. Ken is still there; Jeanie quit her job when she became pregnant with Mildred.
Soon after Millie was born, Jeanie made an appointment with a gynecologist who took a routine blood test. The test revealed there was a problem with creatinine in her blood. She was informed that she had been diagnosed as having fallen victim to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). She had not been feeling tiptop for some months, but had ascribed her malaise to being caused by the after effects of her pregnancy.
“I’m sorry to give you this news,” Dr. Nadine Wendelkin had said when she gave Jeanie the disturbing information. “I’ll make an appointment for you with Dr. Rudolph Rumstead, a Nephrologist. You should see him as soon as you can.”
“How did it go with the doctor,” Ken asked when Jeanie came home.
“They think I may have a kidney problem,” she responded. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious but I do have to see a kidney doctor. My appointment is next Tuesday. Would you come with me?”
“Of course,” he responded. He knew all too well what this news meant. His mother had died from kidney failure at too-young an age.
The meeting with Dr. Rumstead was depressing. Jeanie’s illness was extremely serious. Her kidneys were close to failing. The couple was informed that when kidney failure takes place, a patient has only a few weeks to live. A process called dialysis could keep a person alive for a period of time that varied with the individual. The doctor told Jeanie and Ken that dialysis would not work well with Jeanie. The only real option that she had was for a kidney transplant. He told the couple that only one kidney would be needed to enable Jeanie to live a normal life.
The bad news was that there is a long waiting list of persons needing a kidney transplant. There was also a compatibility problem that needed to be checked out.
While still in the doctor’s office, Ken stated that he wanted to volunteer to donate one of his kidneys. Dr. Rumstead stated that simply volunteering was not enough. There were many factors to be considered in order to insure that the transplant had a chance of working.
“Go home,” the doctor said. “Talk it over fully. Read the information I’m giving you. There would be no disgrace in your determining not to do it. But if you decide to go ahead, we’ll begin the process right away.”
At home, there was an animated discussion.
Jeanie did her best to convince Ken that she would be all right with dialysis. Or, Jeanie’s family could be looked at to see whether there was the possibility of a donation from there. Alice, Jeanie’s younger sister might be a good candidate. In the end, the two decided for Ken to donate one of his kidneys. The decision was made after Ken had said, “When we were married , we both vowed that our marriage was for better or for worse. We’re facing a bit of worse at this time, but can make it better. I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.”
Tests indicated there was no compatibility problem. The operations were scheduled. Alice agreed to take over the care of Baby Millie during the recuperation period.
They took took place in January, 2005 at Mercy Hospital downtown. It was declared a success.
During the years that followed, a more or less normal life was led by the three members of the Wilson family. Alice, and her husband William, were frequent visitors. Millie would become greatly excited when she heard that Aunt Alice and Uncle Billy would come visiting.
Jeanie needed to take several forms of medicine every day during this period of time but, otherwise than the nuisance this caused, she was healthy and enjoyed caring for Ken and Millie. The donated kidney was doing its job admirably.
Normalcy exploded to smithereens early this year, 2016, when Ken was diagnosed with kidney disease during a routine yearly exam. Giving Jeanie and Millie the news was one of the most difficult tasks that Ken had ever needed to do during his lifetime. A depressing pall fell over the home. His illness was ironically similar to that of his wife.
Dr. Rumstead informed the family that Ken needed a kidney transplant; otherwise his remaining life span would be measured in months. Immediately, Jeanie offered to give back to Ken the kidney he had given her. She said she would take her chances with finding a donor for herself. The doctor said there was no reason why this action should not take place but also declared that it would be greatly unusual and perhaps a first in the medical field.
Ken was adamant in refusing the suggestion. The onus of finding a donor was his, he insisted.
Jeanie reminded Ken of his words so many years before. “I love you more than anyone else in the world. Giving you a kidney is a very small token of how I can validate my love. There cannot be any other option.” She had memorized this verbatim.
An impasse loomed until Alice proposed a suggestion. It was accepted by all. Last week, Millie waited anxiously in the waiting room of Mercy Hospital. Three individuals had been wheeled into the operating room. Jeanie donated the kidney she had received back to Ken; Alice donated one of her kidneys to Jeanie. Millie was informed that the operations had been successful and all were doing well.