To my law partners, kidney transplantation apparently bordered on science fiction. We sat around the firm's large conference table as I explained that I was undergoing the surgery the next morning. My announcement was met with an eerie silence, shocked stares, and gaping mouths. Sure, I blindsided them with my news; but we lawyers are rarely speechless. I could see they had no basis to understand what a transplant would mean.
The idea of transplanting organs is obscure to many and conjures up visions of the esoteric, as it once did for me. Shifting organs from one person to another, and having both walk away to live good lives clearly is a strange concept.
"What do you mean?" one partner asked. I briefly described my inherited kidney disease, Alport Syndrome, and that my current kidney function had deteriorated to about eight percent, which prevented me from living much longer without dialysis or a transplant. "But you haven't been sick," several blurted. "I'm actually quite ill, but lucky," I explained. "My exercise and eating habits have helped me avoid the woes most patients in end-stage suffer."
"Will you be on dialysis?" another asked. I responded that I should be now, but the transplant will preempt that. They also didn't realize that IU Health is a leading transplant center with an amazing success record, and asked where I would "go to do this," as if it might be Mars.
"Will they swap the new kidney for one of your others?" another partner asked. "No, the donated kidney is placed here," I indicated by placing my hand on my lower abdomen.
One wondered where I was getting the kidney, and I said that my daughter was the donor, without explaining more about the gift. "Is she giving you both kidneys," he asked before really thinking. "I hope not," I chortled. "She might need one herself." My very smart partners were as ignorant about kidney disease and transplants as I had been initially.
When I returned two weeks later, I noticed my partners' relief that I appeared normal, despite my freakish, abnormal procedure.