JC in SERENA SAYS is a made-up person, but I based her character on my little sister, Jessica. Jess answered a few questions about kidney transplants for the 1000 Black Girls Book Club of Martin County, Florida, and I thought you might like to see what she had to say!
Q: What did you have to do before surgery?
A: I remember that I got a call at 10pm the night before. The person said I needed to be there at the hospital at 5am the next morning. So, early in the morning, my parents took me to the hospital. I took my insurance card and filled out a lot of papers, and then they gave me a hospital bracelet that meant I was a patient. They put me in a hospital room. And then, I had to wait. And wait. And wait! I couldn't eat for hours, because you have to have nothing in your stomach when you have surgery. They put IV needles in my hand and arm to give me water and sugar in my bloodstream, so I didn’t feel as hungry or thirsty. Finally, at about around 11pm they sent me to a new room, where they put drugs to make me sleep and not feel anything in my IV, and then they took me to the operating room. So, it took all day!
Q: How old were you when you got your kidney transplant?
A: I was 17 years old when I got my kidney transplant.
Q: Did your surgery leave a big scar?
A: Nope, my surgery left a medium scar. It's kind of shaped like backwards J.
Q: Can people see the scar from your kidney transplant?
A: No. People could only see the scar if I wear a crop top but I rarely do.
Q: Where did the doctor get the kidney?
A: I got my kidney from a cadaver - meaning a person who died, but on their license they checked a box that said they wanted to donate their body to help other sick people.
Q: How long did the surgery take to get a new kidney?
A: After they gave me the medicine to make me sleep, about seven hours altogether.
Q: What did you have to do after surgery?
A: Most of the time after the surgery I rested and worked on being still so that my body would heal. After they let me go home, which was about five days later, I had to go to the doctor every week, about twice a week, for checkups and blood tests to make sure my body wasn’t getting infections or about to make the new kidney not work.
Q: How long did you have to stay home after you got a new kidney?
A: I stayed home for about 3 months after the surgery because of the medication I am on, which are called immune suppression drugs. I had to be sure I didn’t get a cold or the ‘flu or anything, because my immune system wasn’t working, and I could get really sick and die from a tiny infection or cold.
Q: Did people make fun of you because you had to get a kidney transplant?
A: No, nobody made fun of me. I think people were more empathetic because I went through so much at a young age.
Q: Can you have a baby after you get a kidney transplant?
A: I'm pretty sure I can. I don’t want to yet, though! ☺
Q: Can you live by yourself after you have a kidney transplant, or do you have to live with your parents forever?
A: Once a person heals from kidney surgery, they don't need more help than other people, so they can live by themselves.
Q: Can you drive a car after a kidney transplant?
A: Since kidney surgery doesn't have anything to do with your eyes, or your brain, or your hands and feet to operate a car, yes! You can drive once you pass your permit exam and take the driving test - and have a car!