Laughter and Tears, Surgery Day for a Kidney Donor

The few days leading up to the procedure were a total roller coaster.

Even during my appointments the day before I had a melt down in front of one of the nurses for a good 45 minutes. She told me I had to start fasting at 4pm, even though the materials that were mailed to me said midnight… which meant I wouldn’t be having my dinner with the handful of close friends I was planning on. Those dinner plans were my anchor, my last hurrah before I put myself in the most vulnerable position ever. The nurse tried to be empathetic, but she clearly didn’t know why I’d cry so much about fasting at 4pm.

I looked irrational. And I didn’t care.

The transplant coordinator gave me a nice bag with goodies, including Life Savers! Get it? Life saver? 🙂
Dr. Foley’s drawing of what he had planned for me. (It turned out WAY better than this.) 🙂

The morning of the procedure I was extremely ready to get it all over with. The anticipation of planning something for more than a year takes a toll on a person, and I just wanted to be healing already.

Last moments in the waiting room before being officially called into pre-op!

In the last half hour before getting wheeled to the operating room I was crying again (very convenient that you aren’t allowed to wear make up when going under the knife so I didn’t have any raccoon eyes to think aboout). As if right on my cue my surgeon walked in the room. I was relieved to see him and it only took a few sentences from him to make me feel at ease again. Well, that and whatever kind of drug they gave me that morning to help me relax.

I remember kissing my sweet boyfriend goodbye with a nurse saying ‘awwww’ as she stood and watched, then telling doctor Foley ‘let’s go save a life!’ followed by a fist bump or something.

Then it was me on a bed getting wheeled to the OR with what felt like a posse of really cool people. I was DREADING this moment, thinking it would be so scary, but with the help of the drugs already in my system I felt like I was going off to a private party with a bunch of really cool friends. They were all making it so much fun for me!

In the OR I tried to help the best I could to easily get myself onto the operating table and not freak out when they tied the strap across my legs. I was curiously looking around the operating room and said ‘hey guys, is there a Cousins next door to this? This feels like a Cousins store room to me.’ I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, other than there were some metal racks that I thought would be perfect for holding fresh baked bread.

I did my best to look around and compare the actual OR to all the episodes of Greys Anatomy I’ve seen when I remembered that some surgeons like to listen to music when they operate.

Me: ‘Hey Doctor Foley! Do you listen to music when you operate?’

Dr: ‘I do sometimes – you want some music on?’

*I was just aware enough to notice the staff and Dr Foley smiling as he asked this question*

Me: ‘Yeah!”

I remember hearing the music that I think was Journey or Boson or something like that, and I was laying on the table tapping my feet and smiling thinking ‘how freaking cool is this moment right now’ when a hand with a mask came over my face.


What felt like 5 seconds later I remember my eyes opening in a dense fog in the recovery room. I could hardly open my eyes, and I remember a person asking if I felt nauseaous. I said yes, though I’m not even sure I was, and they promptly gave me what looked like a blue plastic windsock to puke in if the occasion arose. (I didn’t need to use it, but it served as a good security blanket.)

I also obsessively checked to make sure my teeth were still in tact because I was certain they would break on the breathing tube. (They didn’t, but I still checked them probably 100 times.)

I apparently spent about two hours in recovery, and I remember maybe 3 minutes of it. Flash forward and now I’m in my room, and I’m thinking to myself how pleasantly surprised I am that the hospital bed is so comfortable, and in walks my boyfriend.

After that I have only four memories of the rest of the day.

1 – A work friend leaving after dropping off a great care package and a beautiful purple orchid, and Chad saying ‘Laura was just here’. I felt guilty that I wasn’t a good host in the hospital.

2 – Trying to stand on two separate occasions with the help of Chad and some nurses. It didn’t work. I was too doped up to walk on my own the first day.

I had no clue what the hell I was doing.

3 – Dr. Foley stopping in, and Chad asking some specific questions about an incision of mine, and the doc drawing it on the whiteboard.

I would have lost a first grade spelling bee after surgery.

4 – Tying to Snapchat and being surprised how blurry my vision was.

I’ll blame the vision and drug combo for more stellar spelling errors.

I didn’t have any pain, though I had an awareness that things were tender. My brain was faded enough that there was no fretting, over analyzing, or obsessing. I’ve never been a bigger bump on a log. And it was a blessing.

There was so much anticipation around this day, the procedure, and the unknown. To be on the other side of it now I really am amazed by modern medicine, and how easy the process was. It’s unreal to me that such a big event can happen to my body and I only remember about 20 minutes of the day post surgery.

I’m so thankful for the surgical team, and my amazing surgeon. I was so anxious and nervous about this day, and they made it incredibly easy on me. More updates to come on the rest of my hospital stay and my recovery!


  1. Thanks for sharing your road! Although I can’t imagine what you have gone through I’m happy to be a part of it! You are such an amazing person.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tracey – you are amazing!! Thank you so much for donating your kidney to a stranger. Two months ago my little sister donated one of her kidneys to me. Her selfless decision has given me a second chance at life. I’m determined not to waste it and I’m focused on becoming happier, healthier and more productive. I’m sure your decision has had as remarkable a change on your recipient and his / her family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


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