To the Editor:
Back in December 2010, I wrote a Letter to the Editor about my husband Kenny and his desperate situation awaiting a kidney transplant. The response we got from friends and strangers was that some were moved to tears, and some were angry we hadn’t told them how bad Kenny’s situation had gotten.
Unfortunately we did not find a kidney donor even though one of our dear friends stepped up and went all the way to Mass General in Boston for testing. She so wanted to help Kenny, help our family. She was a good match, but they ruled her out because of prior abdominal surgeries. We were and are forever grateful for her unselfishness and willingness to help Kenny.
So Kenny’s health took a turn for the worse in February, and he ended up really sick, no energy, lost a lot of weight, no appetite, he missed a lot of work, which hurt financially also. We were away for our older son’s hockey tournament in Orleans for a whole weekend, and that Monday we met with a dialysis nurse in Mashpee.
We were set up to start classes to do home dialysis, but on the way to the boat I suggested Kenny call his regular kidney doctor who had an office in Mashpee. She called Cape Cod Hospital and talked with a surgeon so they could schedule a day to put in a catheter in Kenny’s stomach to do home dialysis. So instead of heading to the boat with the kids after being off all weekend at a hockey tournament, we turned around and headed to Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, where Kenny met with a very nice surgeon who told him he wanted to admit him and do the surgery the next day.
Wow, we weren’t expecting it to take place so soon, but it was time. So the next day the surgeon not only put a catheter into Kenny’s belly for home dialysis, but it seems that Kenny was so sick now he put a shunt in Kenny’s collarbone area so he could start dialysis in the hospital ASAP. After his first dialysis he immediately felt better, taking all those toxins out of his body. He spent a week in the hospital and did dialysis every day for 2–3 hours. When he was released, he had dialysis set up on Martha’s Vineyard, three days a week for four hours, so he did that for a week.
We were set to start at-home dialysis classes the following Tuesday. That Friday was our son Hunter’s tenth birthday, and as he blew out his candles, I could see his face as he was thinking of a wish. I knew it was a special one.
Saturday, March 26, we and the kids drove to Barnstable for our son’s final hockey game of the season. We decided to leave our car in Falmouth at the Palmer Avenue lot, since we would be needing it for our daily dialysis classes in Mashpee. So we were on the boat heading home, feeling down since our son’s hockey team lost their game. Suddenly, my phone rang, and I did not recognize the number, but something told me to answer. Good thing I did. It was Mass General Hospital in Boston, telling me they were trying to get a hold of my husband (of all days, he forgot his cell phone). They had a kidney and a pancreas for him; we needed to get to Boston ASAP.
I will never forget the look on Kenny’s face. Shear shock, happiness and joy. We cried and instantly called our moms to make arrangements for our two older children (our youngest would come with me). The boat docked, and we ran to where our other car was parked and zoomed home. Quickly I threw clothes in a bag for all of us, packed up my kids and fought back my nervousness, fear, and tears.
My mother-in-law brought us to the boat, which we made by seconds. It broke my heart to say goodbye to my kids. I will never forget my daughter’s tears running down her face as she was leaving the parking lot. I could hardly see my way onto the boat through my tears.
Once on the boat, it really hit Kenny what was about to happen. On the long, tense ride to Boston, we cried and prayed everything would go well. Kenny expressed he would not believe this was real until after it was all over. He was scared they would find the donor organs not to be viable or something else would go wrong.
Once we got to Boston, it was a lot of testing and getting Kenny settled in the transplant unit. Originally his surgery was scheduled at 8 pm, then midnight, but finally at 2:30 am on Sunday, March 27, Kenny received his new kidney and pancreas, thanks to a family who decided to donate their loved one’s organs.
Kenny spent a week in the hospital, and for the first month he had to do weekly bloodwork in Boston to check his levels. We had one scare where he was readmitted because they were afraid he was rejecting his organs, but it turned out to be dehydration and readjusting his meds.
I am writing this because we are so happy and grateful to our donor’s family for changing our lives forever. Kenny is a new, healthy man, no diabetes for the first time in 36 years. Our miracle is going on six months, and I see people around town who have no idea Kenny has had a donor for a kidney. Then I see their faces when I tell them of his miracle.
We still cannot believe how our lives have changed for the better, and we say a prayer for his donor and thank his family every day. Maybe some day we can be in direct contact with them. It’s really hard, because we feel such happiness when they are dealing with a loss.
We want to bring awareness to the community about organ donation. When you renew your license, check the organ donation box, save a life. Thank you to the community for all the love and support you have shown our family.
Kenny continues to grow stronger, and he enjoys his non-diabetes life. My older son told me that he had made his birthday wish that his daddy get better. It came true, Hunter.
For more information on organ donation, contact the New England Organ Bank at www.neob.org.
Kenny and Erica Ponte