It Happened to Me

Dad update

As I mentioned earlier, Dad is the recipient of a kidney from his

sister, my Aunt Beth. The problem with donated organs is that while by

necessity are a close match to your body, they don’t have your unique

genetic code. This would normally cause your immune system to attack it

since it’s a foreign object, and attacking foreign objects is an immune

system’s job. Hence, organ recipients must take drugs that suppress the

immune system, which is done by preventing the reproduction of white

blood cells. As you might conclude, the price paid for  being able

to keep the organ is that you now open the door to all kinds of

infections that you’d normally shrug off.

(Bacteria are everywhere, especially in supposedly benign places like shopping carts and computer keyboards.)

I knew that the infection that Dad contracted in his toe was the result

of having his immune system suppressed. Dr. Sivaciyan, a friend of the

family explained to me what I didn’t know: the blood clot that formed

in Dad’s leg was a byproduct of the infection. Dad was taking

anti-clotting medicine, so it would take something unusual to cause a

clot. The blood clot cut off the blood supply to the kidney, causing it

to go into shock.

Simply put, the measures taken to keep the kidney also put it out of commission. Talk about your vicious cycles.

We’d originally hoped that the removal of a couple of Dad’s toes would

be sufficient to rid him of the infection, but the spread was greater

than we’d realized. A more radical amputation was necessary, so earlier

this week, he’d undergone what they call a BKA — a below-knee amputation.

I can only imagine what Dad’s going through right now. He’s

disappointed that his kidney may no longer work after the major

production of getting the transplant barely two years ago, and losing a

chunk of leg can only compound that heartbreak. Still, as my sister

likes to put it, Dad’s a “tough old war horse”, and if anyone can pull

through a situation like this, it is he.

The good news is that the infection seems to be completely gone. Now we

have to see if that kidney restarts. Once again, the immune-suppressing

drugs are both blessing and curse. They slow the rate of reproduction

of immune cells, but they also slow the rate of reproduction of kidney

cells. The kidney may rebound, but slowly.

In the meantime, I’m doing what I can, which is visiting him as often as possible (the Second Cup

coffee shop in the hospital knows what to make me as soon as I step

into without having to ask). All we can do is wait and see what happens.

12 replies on “Dad update”


I so know how you feel because my mom is going through the EXACT same thing right now. She just had the below the knee amputation done this week. The crappiest part is that she lives in England and I am here in Toronto so I can’t go to see her. (I was there in December but…)

Anyway, my thoughts go out to you and your family.

-a long time lurker

Since I have lost friends and family to the disease of diabetes I know how it must feel to be going through this. Thoughts and prayers will be going out to you and your family.

Joshua Day

Roanoke, VA USA

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. It’s funny, there are about 10 or 20 different thoughts trying to find their way down to my fingers from my brain, but I can’t articulate any of them well at all…suffice to say, I hope that kidney bounces back, and soon!

I have no idea what this must be like, Joey. But may you have the courage and patience you need, and room to lose your cool when you need that, too.

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