On a December morning in 2005 at 0450hrs Dorothy Hannan received a phone call she was unprepared for.
The call was from nephrologist Dr John Collins at Auckland City Hospital telling her there was a kidney available for her.
“My head went into a spin and I had a total overload of a variety of emotions. I was excited, overwhelmed, disbelieving and then I thought about the donor family and what they must be going through at this very same time, and that part was extremely difficult as they had lost their family member only a few hours prior,” says Dorothy.
With a limited time frame to get to the hospital, Dorothy had to gather her thoughts as best she could and phoned her dear friend Patsy who took her to the hospital. After arriving at hospital and completing the necessary paperwork, Dorothy said it didn’t feel that long before she was heading to the operating room. “It was such a surreal feeling when I was being wheeled along, as I had no idea what I was in for, and it had all happened so fast that I hadn’t had time to think about it.”
After spending a couple of days in the Department of Critical Care Medicine after the transplant, Dorothy was transferred to Ward 71, the Renal Transplant Ward. “The road to recovery started and it still continues today, and always will do as my body is forever changing.”
Dorothy was first diagnosed with renal failure in 1996 after she mentioned at a regular check-up with her GP that she always seemed to be thirsty and woke up each morning feeling tired. She was sent to have a blood test which showed an increase in her creatinine so her GP suggested another blood test in a month. With the results still not looking good and monthly blood tests not showing any improvement, Dorothy went to see the nephrologist. A biopsy showed that her kidneys were showing signs of failing.
Dorothy was able to manage her health until 2004 when it became necessary for her to start on dialysis. Throughout the whole experience, the most difficult thing for Dorothy was accepting that she had renal failure, mostly because she knew absolutely nothing about it. “The second obstacle was realising that I couldn’t fix it myself and this made me feel totally powerless.”
Dorothy started peritoneal dialysis and found it helpful to learn as much as she could about it so that she had a better understanding of what was happening to her body. “This in turn took the mystery out of it, gave me more confidence and control and I could slowly start to accept things.”
“The most positive aspect of the treatment for me was feeling better and regaining some control back. Also, I can’t emphasise enough how having the great support from the Renal Dietician Lyn Lloyd, the pre-dialysis team and the dialysis teams made things go so smoothly, as they were very positive, reassuring and comforting. I certainly couldn’t have handled things as well as I did without them.”
Now, over six years on from her transplant, Dorothy is continuing to live life to the fullest and is eternally grateful for her transplant.
“I feel like I am just so blessed and the luckiest girl in the world. I constantly feel grateful to the donor family for this amazing gift and never take if for granted.”
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