Written by Rhonda Powers, Kidney Transplant Recipient
I received my gift of life 12 years ago thanks to my living donor and my sister, Diana.
I should probably start with my journey to receiving a transplant. I was born with a birth defect and one of my kidneys was literally falling apart and barely functioning. I was a very sick kid; in and out of the hospital until at the age of nine. That was when one of my doctors decided I needed the kidney removed. From what I was told, the surgery I needed was so new in the state of Oklahoma that I had to travel to a hospital in Lawton and they filmed my surgery to teach medical students. It was in February of 1970.
After my surgery, I had a lot of energy and acted similarly to a child with ADHD. I did everything anyone else would do. I rode horses, biked, camped, swam, and more. This level of energy continued as I grew up and got married and began to have a family. Suddenly, when my son was born, I started feeling very tired all of the time and constantly wanted to sleep. As he got older, the fatigue got worse. I discovered I was going into kidney failure and I battled with this news internally for several years until my only option was dialysis.
I had complications while on dialysis and was in and out of the hospital with high fevers and developed nerve damage, along with a few other side effects. I did not have the normal reaction to the treatments, but I couldn't expect less since my life always seemed to be a little different.
After a while of these treatments, my doctor said my body could no longer handle dialysis and that it was slowly killing me. I was quickly placed on the transplant list and discovered that if I could get family and friends to be tested it would help speed up the process if anyone a match. After my family and friends were tested, we discovered my sister was a perfect match. My sister soon called me and let me know that she had been thinking and praying about this decision and had decided to give me a kidney.
We were concerned that our age difference (she was 11 years older than I was) but after getting tested the hospital staff agreed she was a perfect match! Following these tests, it all seems like a dream since the whole process went so quickly. On November 6, 2002 I had my kidney transplant. My gift of a second chance at life began.
After the first month I felt so great and had more energy than I felt like I ever had in my life!
Following my surgery, I have completed two 5ks, ridden a 4-wheeler, climbed a rock wall, taken Zumba classes, and currently work out in my local gym 4 days a week. I also participated in the Transplant Games of America and played basketball and bowled, which I won a gold medal! Receiving my transplant has given me a renewed perspective on life and I no longer take it for granted and continue to live out every single minute of it. I will never find the words to express how thankful I am for my new chance at life.
Rhonda Powers is 54 year old wife, mother of two, and a grandmother of two, who received a kidney transplant and is an advocate for organ donation. She competed in the Transplant Games of America in 2014 where she received a Gold medal.