Co-Editor in Chief
On June 27, Susan Dorsey, Associate Director of Student Academic Support Services here at McDaniel College, donated a kidney to her best friend of 40 years, Diane Taylor. The two met their first day of high school and have been inseparable since.
Taylor suffered from diabetes for 20 years and endured dialysis for 2 years. Her schedule revolved around the dialysis, which took place three times a week and wore her out, destroying the natural glow of her skin. Taylor’s only good day was Monday, and she grew tired of scheduling her life around that one day.
Knowing that Taylor would never ask for a kidney and that her relatives were unable to donate because they also had diabetes, Dorsey volunteered and, eventually, Taylor agreed to the transplant.
Blood was draw from both Dorsey and her husband, Jimmy, to see if either one would be a candidate for kidney donation. Dorsey recalled questioning this, “I don’t know why you’re drawing this blood; I’m a match.” Around Christmas, Dorsey found this statement to be true. She was a 6 out of 7, almost a perfect match, and her husband was 5 out of 7. Between the months of January and June, Dorsey had 38 vials of blood taken so she could be thoroughly tested.
Before the surgery, both women met with an array of doctors, including a surgeon, nutritionist, and a general practitioner. Both also lost weight; Taylor lost 60 pounds and Dorsey lost 40 pounds.
The surgery took place at the University of Maryland. Every year, major hospitals do only between 60 and 70 live donations. The majority of donations are not received from live donors; however, the success rate of live donations is much higher.
On Wednesday, June 25, Dorsey went in for a biopsy and was called the next day and told to be ready for surgery on Friday; it was hard for her to believe. “We were so focused on getting there that we never thought it was going to happen,” recalled Dorsey.
The surgery was scheduled for the morning, and the kidney had to be removed from Dorsey before Taylor could be prepped to receive it. Dorsey did not end up going into surgery until 5 pm, and since she had taken aspirin three days earlier, her blood stopped clotting on the table.
The safety of a donor is of upmost importance, and Dorsey was almost unable to donate. She believes that the prayers of both families got her through as platelets began to work and the kidney was retrieved. This turned the typical 3-hour procedure into 5 hours.
The procedure in general is harder on the donor than the recipient. Taylor felt much better upon waking up, but Dorsey did not. Most receivers wake up feeling a lot better, while the donors awake in pain.
“I really did not know the extent of the discomfort involved in those first three days,” explained Dorsey, who vividly remembers walking the 112 steps that separated her room from her best friends 3 times a day. The doctors pushed her to start moving as soon as possible. It was important to keep active to speed recovery. Dorsey believes that 6 weeks off before returning to work is best. After the donation, she was unable to drive for 10 days and could only use the stairs once a day, but it all pales in comparison to saving her best friends life.
After the surgery, Taylor’s sister, who is not an emotional person, thanked Dorsey, grabbed her arm, and began crying.
Within a week after the surgery, Taylor’s toxicity levels dropped from a 10 to a 3 (on a scale of 1-10). A test a few weeks ago showed her kidney functioning at 100 percent. Taylor will always have diabetes, however, the 21 pills she takes each day will keep her healthy and prevent the disease from destroying this new kidney.
Many ask why Dorsey made the donation, and she explains that anyone would do it for someone they loved, “we’re really sisters in another life. Sure it’s inconvenient and there is pain involved, but that’s like anything in life. This is like a privilege to be able to give someone a life.”
Dorsey completely recovered from the surgery and does not feel any different without one of her kidneys. Taylor is healthy and has a natural glow to her skin; the grayish yellow the dialysis caused is gone.
“After 40 years you know what someone is thinking, they don’t have to say it,” stated Dorsey, but Taylor gave Dorsey a plaque acknowledging her eternal gratitude. It reads: “thanks for the best gift I ever got,” and Dorsey keeps it beside her bed.