My best friend is giving me the gift of life

It’s official: I have a living donor.

There have been very few times in my life that so few words have held such tremendous meaning and have brought such profound change to my life. I have said these words with tears flowing and I have said them while jumping up and down laughing with friends. No matter what the circumstance, there is still a part of me that hears the words but cannot believe what I am saying. My best friend is willing to save my life and give me the opportunity to feel well again so I can live life to the fullest.

Sue and I have been friends since meeting on the soccer field 19 years ago. Our children have literally grown up together. One day, while watching our children practice, I casually mentioned that I have PKD. In that moment, Sue became an advocate for all PKD patients and their families and friends. After many conversations over 19 years, you would think it would be easy to say thank you, but I have yet to come up with the words to express my gratitude. In the weeks that I have had to contemplate what this means to me, I believe that living my best life will demonstrate my gratitude for this gift.

As soon as I made it onto the transplant wait list, Sue began her evaluation—a process that took about eight months. To protect the donor, the transplant center does not share information about donor evaluations with the recipient. I was aware of the process because she shared information with me. We knew the call was coming because we knew that all of the required tests were complete and that her team had met to review her records. There was no way to anticipate what the outcome would be or how we would react. The living donor coordinator contacted Sue first and then he called me. The moment my phone rang, I knew that Sue already knew the outcome, and she knew that I was about to find out. What do you do when you get a call and find out that you are receiving the gift of life? I saw the call coming in, stepped out of a meeting, answered the phone, walked back in and sat down like I hadn’t just been told the biggest news of my life. That five-minute conversation was the most surreal moment I have ever experienced.

Being able to share this news with my husband, my children, family and friends has been a stunning experience. The joy that we have shared is just the beginning of living the rest of my life filled with a gratitude that I could never have imagined. I am fortunate to have an amazing support system of family, friends and so many fellow PKD patients who have shared their journey with me and given heartfelt encouragement throughout this process.

As we prepare for surgeries that will change us forever, we continue to celebrate this gift and look forward to the future with much anticipation and gratitude.

To hear more about Nicole, how she learned about her PKD diagnosis and how she got involved with the PKD Foundation, visit Voices of PKD.