Sandra Reed was going to need a new kidney at some point in her life, and her daughter, Nicole Miller, was going to give it to her.
After Reed had two short stints on transplant lists and more than a year of dialysis, Miller was tested and found to be a matching donor, allowing her to make good on a vow she made when she was 15 — to give her mother one of her kidneys.
“She’s kind of hard-headed, like her mother — there was no way to talk her out of it,” Reed said with a chuckle.
Reed was born with one kidney. It declined over the years, bringing Reed to face end-stage renal failure. Four years ago, Reed had applied for a transplant and was placed on the massive waiting list for transplants, but taken off after being diagnosed with leukemia. Reed would have to wait two years to be able to apply again.
Not long after that, she was placed on dialysis, a treatment she said was very trying on her body.
When Reed applied again, her daughter, who lives in Georgia, was tested and found to be a suitable match for the procedure. The surgery was performed Nov. 27 at a hospital in Fort Worth.
“I never really thought she would do it. I was more worried about her going through the process and the surgery ... concerned with her having this humongous incision and scars, but it was something she wanted to do,” Reed said.
She said everyone was preparing for her daughter to return home before she did, but Miller had complications that required a second surgery.
Miller, 30, was released Dec. 3 and a few days later was back on her way home, where she’s recovering and slowly getting back into her normal routine.
“She [Reed] has healed a lot quicker than I have,” Miller said. “I had a couple complications — it’s a slow healing process — but I would do it all over again without question. It’s my mom, so I would do anything.”
Miller was never tested the first time her mother applied for a transplant but made sure she was tested the second time, leading to the discovery that she was a match.
“You don’t often get the chance to do something great for your parents when they do so much for you,” she said.
Miller said her husband was scared to death for her, but he knew she was set on donating even before they began dating.
“He kind of went into it always knowing,” she said. “It became very real when I got tested and I was a match. We had a lot of emotions going on then, but he was extremely supportive. He spent the night every night at the hospital. I couldn’t get him to leave.”
Her husband continues to do all he can to help.
Miller said her long-term health outlook is great.
“They do say in a healthy person, when you do take out one kidney, the other picks up the function. As long as I take care of my body — healthy diet, low sodium — there really should never be issues.”
Miller said she could still have children, though those will possibly be high-risk pregnancies. “There’s a lot of people out there who have gone through this, people live with one kidney every day,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful journey. There’s been a few bumps and curves in the road, but one I am glad I went through.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6889. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.