Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hi from Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter. It's my first post on SFR.

Hi everyone, Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter here. I signed up to blog here a while ago and haven’t, until today, due to my oldest son being on kidney dialysis 3 times a week. I never thought I’d be posting this story because our lives have changed radically and I'll soon be more active here on SFR. It proves to me that God answers prayer, at the best time possible. Not all answers go smoothly when you get them, but some are worth the wait. Such is the case for my family.
On July 2nd, my oldest son and I were eating lunch at a local sushi restaurant, enjoying our machi rolls and clear soup. His phone rang at 1:16pm. He hit ignore without looking to see who it was and said, “I’m eating. They can wait.” Well, the phone rang again seconds later. He answered. I watched the expression on his face change radically and heard a few indistinct words as he talked. When he hung up, his mouth hung open, his eyes were glazed over, and he didn’t say a word.
“Who was it?” I asked twice before stuffing a piece of California roll in my mouth.
“Uh, uh, it was OSU Medical Center (for those who don’t know-the Ohio State University Medical Center)…they have a kidney for me.”
My eyes welled up with joyful tears and I couldn’t say much either. He made a statement that stopped me in my tracks, “If you’re going to get all hysterical and cry, go to the restroom, but hurry up!”
How he expected me NOT to get hysterical and cry was beyond me and still is, but I didn’t do either because I knew we had a long drive ahead of us. We jammed in the rest of our meal, paid the bill, rushed home, he packed while I packed my laptop, phone and laptop cords, some clean clothes and toiletries, went on Mapquest, and called or e-mailed everyone I know! He was also e-mailing everyone he knew, which meant overlapping notifications.
After a nerve-wracking drive, during which he encouraged me to speed by saying something to the effect that the troopers “won’t give us a ticket because of where we’re going with the kidney only being viable for four hours and all,” we pulled up to the valet parking at OSU Medical Center at 3:00pm, hot, exhausted, and bewildered that it all was happening so fast.
Our family had waited for this day for almost five years, with one false start when a live donor backed out three years ago, but never really expected it would happen. With work and watching their diet, dialysis can keep a person alive a long time, but it drains the will and the body to the point where some people become depressed recluses. I was seeing this in my son. Needless to say, we were overjoyed at the thought of that ending. At 7:30am on July 3rd, they took him to surgery and he came to the recovery room at 9:00am. Shorter than many transplant surgeries and I’m glad, I was alone and don’t think I could have taken a long operative time! His new kidney began working before they even had it fully hooked up. The surgeon called it a “young kidney, eager to work.”
He came home on Thursday, July 8th and is recovering well. There are obstacles we didn’t know about that he has to face, such as the high cost of the anti-rejection drugs, taking his vital signs every four hours, having blood drawn two days a week, and going to the bathroom practically every hour because he has to drink three liters of water a day, losing weight, and getting his blood pressure down. He’s complaining about not getting any sleep at night due to going to the bathroom constantly, that will end in about three months as his bladder gets used to being used again. Gee-for me as his constant companion and best friend (not to mention being his mother) for the last five years, that sounds absolutely FABULOUS! Things will settle down after three months we’re told.
If you know someone who needs a kidney, don’t be afraid to help, donate now, or mark on your driver’s license and tell your family you want to be an organ donor. A young man from Columbus, Ohio, died a senseless death on July 2nd or 3rd, but the three or more people whose lives he saved or made better know it was the best gift and legacy he or anyone could ever give-LIFE-the young man and his family are heroes to me and my family. Please, be a hero to someone and encourage others to do so. Because of what my son went through, my brother-in-law has marked his driver’s license to be a donor, three more lives will be saved someday!


  1. I'm so happy for you and your family. Thank you for sharing this wonderful happening in your life with us, and reminding us how much checking that donor box could mean to others.

  2. What a wonderful story to share, Sandy. I have checked the box to be an organ donor but ya know, I haven't spoken to my sons about it and you reminded me that it's something they might not have thought about. My oldest is in the Marines and my baby is 17. Perhaps it's time to chat.

  3. What an inspiring story, Sandy. I--with hesitation--mark the donor box on my driver's license each time I renew. Now I'm so glad I do! Your story brought home what a postive impact on someone's life checking that little box can be. :)

  4. Thank you very much, Arlene. So many people don't even think about that box, that I figured if our SFR readers knew someone who'd benefited from a donation they might consider it!

  5. Dawn, thank you for checking the box and for considering talking to your sons! So many people don't want to think about "that time," but I know so many appreciate those who do and check the box or tell their family they want to donate.

  6. Hi, Laurie, I hesitated the first time also. I was a bit older, maybe in my
    30s. I don't hesitate any more since my son started dialysis. I can't wait for him to get a girlfriend now, get a real life, and all that goes with it.

  7. What a wonderful story! So thrilled for you!

  8. Thank you, Pauline. I am thrilled, too! He spiked a mild fever last night but it dropped down.

  9. Your son was very lucky to get a kidney transplant. Over half of the 108,000 Americans on the national waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 9,000 of their neighbors die every year as a result.

    There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.

    Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't prepared to share the gift of life should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

    Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers. LifeSharers is a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

  10. Hi, Dave, thank you for commenting and your congratulations. LifeSharers sounds like a good group to also support with monetary donations if someone wanted to. Such a worthy work the people are doing! We and at least 2 or 3 others were indeed lucky. I will look into the group as soon as my son is healed.


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