Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I think the computer will hold long enough for me to be able to document the exciting climax that was Last Tuesday's Kidney Transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. And not a moment too soon, either! I know you all have been waiting for this, and I appreciate your patience. Let's not delay any longer.
The Gift of Life occurred on Sept. 29, but it all kicked off on Sept. 28...
At 11P, I was sitting on the couch watching WWE Monday Night Raw's Main Event. John Cena in a Gauntlet Match against Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Randy Orton. As I watched the then WWE Champion get his ass handed to him, a "Blocked Call" shows up on my phone. At first, I thought it was a friend calling from a blocked number, but then it all became clear as the conversation went like this:
Caller: "Hello! May I speak to Andrew Boyd, please?"
Caller: “Hi Andrew! This is Nicole with PENN Transplant. How are you tonight?”
Me: “I am doing fine. PLEASE tell me you are going to tell me what you are about to tell me.”
Nicole: “Well Andrew, we have a Potential Match for you! Meaning the Blood type is a Perfect match!”
Me: (Running upstairs to continue the call with my grandmother present) “Oh my God! Are you serious? A Potential Match?!”
Nicole: “Yes! At this time, we are going to do a tissue typing to see if your tissue type and the donor’s type are compatible. This usually takes 8-10 hours.”
Me: “So, we are looking between 7-9AM tomorrow, right?”
Nicole: “That’s right. No matter the results, I will call you personally to tell you those results. Try to get some sleep, and I will talk to you tomorrow morning!”
Me: “Nicole, I am not going to be able to!”
Nicole: “Yeah, Exciting Time! Have a Good Night, Andrew!”
Me: “Thank You! You do, too!”
I hugged my grandmother, who was just as excited to hear the news. I chose not to call any family at that time because, What If it did not pan out? So, from 11.30P on, I was jumping out of my skin! I was restless, nervous, excited, and anxious. Hell, All of the above at this point. I couldn’t sleep one bit. I even called my friends Tanya and Joy before they went to sleep, like I do most nights. I then gave myself busy work by packing an overnight bag for the possible hospital stay. I also updated my Contact list on my cell phone so if The Call DID come, I had everyone’s number. After I got all of my busy work done, I remembered not to eat or drink anything after that phone call. The last thing I had was a cup of coffee at 10P. So, for the next 9 hours, I was wired from the caffeine, and wired from the possibility of being a Two-Time Kidney Transplant Recipient. I tried to get some sleep, but wound up staying awake the whole night. I was on FaceBook, getting my Mafia Affairs in order. Afterwards, I played a few games on my phone. When 6A rolled around, I took a shower and got dressed. I went downstairs and sat on the Love Seat and watched the news with my grandmother and 2-year-old cousin. I was feeling tired, so I decided to lay down on the Love Seat at 7.55A. At 8A exactly, “Blocked Call” appears on my phone.
Me: “Alright Grandma, this is it! (Picking up the phone) Hello?”
Caller: “Good Morning Andrew! This is Nicole. How are you feeling this morning?”
Me: “I am nervous as Hell, and waiting on the Verdict.”
(At this time, my little cousin is babbling because I was on the phone. I moved away from him to hear Nicole’s response.)
Nicole: “You are waiting on the verdict? Your donor is compatible with you!”
(A 10 second pause)
Nicole: “Are you doing a dance?”
Me: “No. Trying not to pass out! How soon do you all need me there?”
Nicole: “We will be looking for you around 10-10.30A. Can you make it in by then?”
Me: “I am not too sure. 11A seems to be a more realistic to me, but we will push for that time. Reason I say 11A is because I will have a Battalion with me. But we will aim for your time. I have many calls to make and we will see you soon!”
Nicole: “Alright Andrew, we will see you here!”
I hugged my grandmother and nearly broke down in tears. I kept my focus, and started making my calls.
You know what people? I was HEATED!!! I am here calling you all and NO ONE was picking up their phones! Never dawned on me that hey, People are POSSIBLY at work, dropping off their kids or their phones were on vibrate. So I am here getting mad over your daily routines, and I apologize for that.
I got in touch with my cousin Bill, who in turn called my brother’s job to let them know to have him call me ASAP. I called my mom’s job and left an Urgent message with them. I called my sister and her mom and left messages with them. So around 8.30A, mom called my grandmother’s phone. My grandmother and I are bombarding her with the news, and mom wanted to hear from one of us at a time. I let my grandmother take the call and my mom told her that she and my dad are on their way to pick me up. This is what my grandmother told me:
“They will meet you at the hospital.”
Hearing this, I grab my bag, and get on the El train at Frankford Terminal. At the Tioga stop, my phone rings where my mom tells me that she did not say they were heading to the hospital. They were coming to pick me up! So I get off the train, and made more calls to family and friends. So after a few minutes, I see my parents and I get into their SUV. We were on the same page and en route to the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania, the Battle Ground for Our Second Kidney Transplant.
Before I continue, I want to inform everyone the EXACT length of time we waited on this call. We had our first Transplant Evaluation March 2005, and the Official Call came in Sept. 29, 2009. This will be a wait time of 4.5 years. For my Blood Type (which very few of you know), the average Transplant wait time is 4-5 years. I know a number of people who came into contact with me recently assumed that the wait time was drastically lower. I wish that was the case, everyone. The first transplant on December 9, 1993 was an 8 month wait. This one, with all of the Medical Advances and Blood Type Breakdown, there was a longer wait time.
Along the way, I made many phone calls to family and friends informing them of the incredible news. My family and I received many well wishes as we made our way through I-95 traffic to the hospital. Just before we were out front of the hospital, I updated my FaceBook to inform everyone of what was going on. We arrived at U of Penn at 9.20A, and we were in Admissions until 9.40A. After getting admitted, my mother and I traveled to the 11th floor of the hospital, where we were greeted warmly by the staff. After getting my Vitals checked and gowned up, I was seen by the Surgical Team and was given an I.V. We were in the room from 10A until around 6P while they prepped the OR and the new gift. During that time, I had a Chest X-Ray and other tests ran to insure that my body was ready for the surgery. We were informed of the donor and how this day came to pass. My donor was a 43-year-old woman with no medical history. No diseases, no illness of any kind. There was, however, an issue with the Gift I was about to receive. There was a small lump about the size of ½ of your Pinky fingernail. They performed a biopsy on the lump, and saw that it was a benign tumor. I was approached by the Surgical Rep and was told this. Their concern was that if they gave me the Gift, the tumor could have become cancerous and they would have to go back in and remove my new Gift. At the same time, it could have been just a benign tumor and nothing else. The call was mine to make. I knew my mom wanted to do it, but she knew this was up to me. I told him that, “We waited too long to turn our backs now. We are going for it.”
Was it reckless? Maybe. But for us, this day was long awaited and well deserved. The Rewards were greater than the Risks. We finally departed for the OR waiting area around 6P, and arriving there shortly thereafter. We talked to Anesthesia beforehand, where I taught them a thing or two about their methods. Not my first picnic, people…
Our time came at 7P. I hugged my mom and said the Perfect Prayer to her. I kissed her and said “I Love you.” “I Love you, too. That’s why I am here,” was her response. I was wheeled back to the OR, then we were Red Lighted. My surgeon, Dr. Ali Naji did not like the idea of giving me a kidney with a benign tumor. He had me go back to the waiting area as he fought to give me the OTHER kidney, where there was no presence of a tumor. He was successful in his fight on my behalf. I was wheeled back into the OR around 7.45P, where I finally met Dr. Naji. I thanked him immensely for fighting for the other Gift and told him he will dance at my Wedding. I was told that this surgeon has done MANY transplants. He has performed transplants since the 1970’s and is highly regarded. He is also the same surgeon who trained my first U of Penn Surgeon, Dr. Heidi Yeh.
What I am about to tell you all, simply put, blew my mind. And I can assure you it will do the same to you. Before I was under anesthesia, I observed my surroundings. I saw 2 surgeons working in a silver pan. I look over, and there she was: the Young Lady that was going inside of me. I saw my new kidney!! Never have I seen a sight as amazing and humbling as this! It looked like a chicken breast. I am here thinking, “They are going to put chicken inside of me?” Yeah, I know…
So I am transferred from the gurney to the OR table. They put on a Blood Pressure cuff, attached heart rate measurers and put on leg cuffs to help with my leg circulation. After asking about my name and date of birth, they started the Pure Oxygen, and had me take deep breaths. After a few minutes, the Anesthesia began. I asked for the time (for blogging purposes) as the first injection went into my I.V. Burned a bit, but nothing uncommon. The time was 7.55P when this all started. When the second injection went in, I felt really good! I said out loud, “Alright everyone, Good Night!!” They got a good laugh out of it as the last injection went in.
The surgeons worked on my left abdomen as they gave me our Life Saving Gift. I was told that the surgery was a success as I was wheeled into Recovery at 2.15A. Now, at 2.15A, this was the EXACT time I was wheeled into recovery for our first Kidney Transplant. I found that very sentimental. I was wheeled into my room at 4A. Still out of it from anesthesia, the nursing staff asked if I was alright.
“I need to pee.”
“Alright, you have a Foley catheter that will catch everything, Mr. Boyd.”
“I understand, but I feel I need to push it out.”
“Mr. Boyd, you have a Foley catheter. There is no need to worry.”
I was then shifted to my bed as I slept off the remaining anesthesia. I was assessed vitally through the night and the morning. When 9A rolled around, I was visited by Physical Therapy who wanted me to start walking!! WHAT?! Already!! I was instructed on how to get out of bed. I followed directions, and was on my feet in a matter of seconds! I felt a little light headed, but was ready to take my first steps.
Surprisingly, I was moving like our Transplant never happened, minus the searing pain where they cut me open and closed me up. I did my lap around the 4th floor with the therapist. As we returned to my room, I stopped, looked at her and shook my head No. I did two more laps around the floor, and astounded as well as impressed the staff there. I was even told that I was moving around like someone who did not have surgery. After I did my laps, I was visited by my mom, little brother, and his GF. Shortly after their arrival, my best friend Ric Brazela showed up. He drove all the way from Baltimore after being in court to visit me in the hospital.
I knew there was reason why he has been my best friend of nearly 20 years.
They all stuck around, reminiscing of the first Transplant and talking about the medical advances of this Transplant. They departed after a couple of hours and I was then visited by Baeednah Anderson. After Bae visited me, I was then visited by my aunt Mattie. I was a bit out of it from all the excitement of my visitors. I talked to other friends and family on the phone, and I got a chance to talk to my little sister Latoya Felder who was saddened that she did not get the chance to come to the hospital to see me. I told her it was alright and as long as she got the news of our Transplant, that made me happy. We talked for about an hour and a half that night. After hanging up with her, I went to sleep.
The next day, Ric came in early to visit with me. Such a Great Friend!! After he left, I was given the option of eating food. Those that know me know I jumped at the opportunity. That morning, I received Communion. After Communion I was visited by Tanya Cassup, then had to go down to Dialysis because my Young Lady did not fully awaken just yet and Dialysis was going to be needed until she does. Afterwards, I received calls from family and friends and updated everyone on FaceBook of my progress.
Friday Morning, I was awakened by the Transplant team around 6A. I was told I was going home that day!! When you are half asleep you hear things, but not too sure of what you heard. At 7A, my transplant coordinator came in and reviewed my new medication with me, while I was half asleep. Those that know me know NEVER to wake me up unless someone is dead, dying or the place is on fire. I am looking at her with a fierce Grizzly look as she told me what each medication was and what it did. She told me she would return in a couple of hours to review the medication again. At 9A, she returns. She asked about my meds and what I remembered. I rattled off EVERY medication and told her word for word what they did. She was impressed! Around 1P, I went to Dialysis for 2 hours. After dialysis, I had my I.V.s removed and I took a nice long shower. When I got out, my parents were in my room and ready to take me home with them for Recovery Road. My paperwork was reviewed and signed and I was discharged afterwards. I walked out of the hospital under my own power, showing that I was strong willed and determined.
As of this time, it will be 2 weeks since I have been home. The Love and Support from everyone who has followed me has been very overwhelming and so appreciated. I am seeing my Transplant Team every Monday Morning at U of Penn for blood work and medication review. It will be only a matter of time before my Young Lady becomes aware and functions at full capacity.
Thank You All! I Love You All, And Appreciate Your Support During This Fantastic Series Of Events!!
~© 2010 Andrew Boyd~