2014 Lycoming Winter Magazine - page 11

received my kidney transplant on
July 23, 2013, which happens to be
my birthday. I was wheeled into the
operating room while the doctors and
nurses sang “Happy Birthday,” making
it feel like a strange celebration. The
moment I looked up and saw the surgeon
holding my new kidney was the peak of
this surreal experience.
In August 2012, my nephrologist
diagnosed me with Stage IV Renal
Failure, and told me that I would
inevitably need a kidney transplant. I
contacted Hershey Medical Center and
was given an appointment for December
2012, during which I would be evaluated
for eligibility to be placed on the
transplant list.
At my appointment, I met with
numerous doctors and nurses on the
transplant team. My options for this
procedure were to be placed on the
kidney/pancreas transplant list, in which
case I would receive both organs at the
same time from a deceased donor, or to
receive them separately, with a kidney
from a living donor and a pancreas from
a deceased donor. After undergoing
various medical tests, I was placed on the
transplant waiting list in January 2013.
Several people came forward to be
tested as living donors. Unfortunately,
due to certain factors, they were all ruled
ineligible. At this point, Hershey Medical
Center informed us of a program called
“Donor Swap.” This program is based on
paired donation, which involves two pairs
of incompatible donors and transplant
candidates. The two candidates trade
donors so they each receive an organ
from a donor who is a match for them.
In my case, my husband, Chris, donated
his kidney to the program and I received
one from an unknown donor. To be listed
in this program, all parties must sign an
agreement stating that the risks involved
are understood and a promise that they
will not back out of the program. After
the agreements were processed, we were
listed in the program. The next day, a
match was found for me. Two days after
that, we had a surgery date.
With the support from my family
and friends, including my coworkers at
Lycoming College, I was able to maintain
a positive attitude throughout this
experience. Without their support, my
positive attitude would have wavered. All
of these wonderful people were with me
every step of the way. It meant more to
me than they will ever know.
There are more than 98,000 people on
the kidney transplant waiting list, making
the wait for a deceased donor up to five
or even 10 years. One major benefit of
the Donor Swap program is that the wait
time for a donor is much less, usually
anywhere from a few weeks to two
years depending on the circumstances.
Chris’ recipient had been waiting seven
years for a kidney and had an 88 percent
chance of never receiving one.
Being a donor can be very rewarding.
My donor is a 38-year-old teacher
from Arkansas, who said that donating
was something he always wanted to do;
Chris also told me that donating was
the best thing he ever did. Knowing you
helped save or improve someone’s life
is extremely gratifying. Being a donor,
whether living or deceased, provides a
second chance at life for thousands of
people each year. A deceased donor may
help to save or improve the life of up to
50 people.
Living donation is becoming more
popular. In my case, my relatives and
friends were not compatible, and therefore
unable to help me. This is where the
paired program came in. Without this
program, I might have waited up to 10
years for a kidney and had a greatly
diminished quality of life. At the time of
my transplant, my kidney function was
down to 7 percent. Within two days of the
transplant, it was more than 60 percent.
Each day, about 79 people receive
organ transplants. However, 18 people
die each day waiting for transplants that
can’t take place because of the shortage of
donated organs. By deciding to be a donor,
you give the gift of hope: hope for the
thousands of individuals awaiting organ
transplants. Please consider giving that
gift of hope and, even more importantly,
that precious second chance at life.
Editor’s note:
Masse serves as
Lycoming’s assistant director of
financial aid.
Missy (Smith)
Masse ’01 with her
husband, Chris, and
daughter, Katie
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