Being young and donating a kidney – my experience
On 9 June 2018, my life changed forever. I was out partying with friends when I received a call from the Hospital, stating that my dad was experiencing kidney failure. I dropped everything and rushed to the hospital to be with him. Once I arrived, the nurses were supportive and took the time out to explain my dad’s health and future transplantation options to us. It was heart-breaking to see my dad ill on the ward, I’ve never known him to be sick before this, not even with a flu.
We were told that he would soon need to be dialysed, and for a better quality life, we should look into organ transplant. The kidney could come from a living or deceased donor, but a living donor was preferred as it is more likely to be a match and has higher success rates. I immediately nominated myself as a living donor, I told the nurses “I will give him one of mine, I will do the organ transplant”. I knew that donating one of my kidneys would give him a better quality of life and the nurses reassured me that it was normal to live with one kidney, after all some people are only born with one.
Following our conversations, the ward nurses put me in contact with the transplant team to start the “kidney work up” - this included countless tests and counselling sessions where I was made aware of the surgery risks, organ donation process and lifestyle changes required to be a potential donor.
At only 20 years old at the time, my biggest concerns were whether I would be able to travel again, wear bikinis or possibly die during surgery. My friends and family also had their concerns too, as no one I knew ever experienced or witnessed organ transplant before however the renal team reassured us that I can still have a normal life post operation and we proceeded with a series of psychological and physical tests to ensure I would be safe before and after donation.
I took a test (blood test, scans, psychological sessions etc) almost every two weeks for twelve months, in addition, I also did my own research on donation but there was little to no representative of Black British families. This was frustrating and demotivating because no one looked like me and I had no one to relate to, so I decided to change this narrative.
I began to document my entire donation journey and have since assisted others by sharing a visual diary of “what life it is like to live with one kidney” and “organ donation as a young adult” on my social media platforms. I have dedicated “A Day In The Life Of A Kidney Donor Series” on my YouTube channel “Jaydah Talks”.
In September 2020, I received a phone call to schedule our surgery date, which was the best call of my entire life!
Following my successful donation in November 2021, I also worked with the Gift Of Living Donation Charity (GOLD), to develop and raise awareness in the black community about organ donation through the “Peer Buddy Scheme”. The scheme allows a potential living donor/ transplant recipient to converse with someone from their race or nationality about all things pre, during and post donation.
I hope by sharing my story, I can educate and influence others on the importance of organ donation.
My social media handle is @jaydahtalks on all platforms