"Mother and daughter are doing fine," has been my partner Shelagh's response to many well-wishers these past few days.
October 20, 1998, "a gift of life" was offered as doctors transplanted my left kidney into my seven-year- old daughter Alia - an act which created both excitement and apprehension deep within me. Would there be complications? Would the kidney be rejected? Would I wake up to see another day? These thoughts drifted in and out of my head during the final moments as we ventured to the operating room on the second floor--Shelagh's left arm around my shoulder, her right hand grasping me tenderly, and Alia gently snuggling in her papa's arms.
Medical personnel appeared and disappeared around us. Alia needed one last trip to the "little girl's room" and I had to don support stockings to reduce blood flow to my legs. We excused ourselves. I closed the door, and heard an orderly (I think) ask Shelagh if she was the donor. "If I am," she replied, "I'm slightly overdressed for the occasion." After final preparations, Alia was sedated, taken from her papa, and carried down the hall. Hugs and kisses all around. Words of encouragement. See you when I wake up.
My vision was blurred. I was moving down a corridor back to my room and there was Shelagh, camcorder in hand, capturing the moment. I was shaking. Couldn't seem to stop. Tears flowed. "Alia?" I chattered. "She's okay," Shelagh answered. "Minor complications. Nothing to worry about."
Shelagh stayed by my side for two days. She was my emotional and spiritual surrogate, visiting Alia, talking to her, and videoing her image for me to see, as I was too weak to stand. Alia's papa checked in several times a day as well. Friends and family came and went. The pain medication made it difficult to remember our conversations.
The surgeons came and visited. "You've done a fine thing," they said. "The kidney is functioning beautifully." They told me she was awake, her colour was good and she was starving. Shelagh wheeled me to ICU. Alia saw me and reached out, held back by the numerous tubes and wires. "Mommy," she whispered, "I have dinosaurs in my room." We followed her gaze and saw the tiny images near the ceiling. "Get better, sweetie," I said, "see you later."
A few days later Alia was moved to an isolated room; her mood incredible and her appetite voracious. Immuno-suppressive drugs have been given to ward off possible rejection. Alia will have to have repeated blood tests three to four times per week. She has a central line in place to assist with the frequent drawing of blood. It will be a few months before we feel up to speed again and able to get back into the swing of things.
Alia asks if she will have to have needles anymore. As far as I am aware, she will only be required to take oral medication, some of which will continue throughout her lifetime. I hope that the central line will not become infected like the last one and she will not have to suffer any more "pokes." I would like to thank the following people: Shelagh who, through thick and thin, has been by my side all along--my support and bravery pin go out to her; Tynan, even with the trials and tribulations of being a teenager he has helped me out tremendously; Kilian, for just being himself (Mr. Jiggs), enabling me to laugh at times when I only wanted to cry; Alia, for being the brave little girl she is; and Stephen for my morning coffees and for being a true friend. I would also like to thank all of you who have given us support during these hard times.