Former dialysis patient feeling bittersweet after surgery

Published 11:47 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

Deanna Hunt, Al Young and their mother Diane Shearin on the morning of the surgery, just before they took Young away to surgery. -- Submitted

Deanna Hunt, Al Young and their mother Diane Shearin on the morning of the surgery, just before they took Young away to surgery. — Submitted

NEWSOMS—Deanna Hunt has a new friend for life – Dale.

Dale is a kidney.

She – yes, Hunt calls it a she – “is spunky.”

More precisely, it’s the new one that belongs to Hunt through the generosity and love of Al Young, her donor and brother.

“I named my kidney Dale after my late grandmother, Evelyn Dale Majette Everett,” she said.

Deanna and Dale met on the morning of Jan. 28, which is when the transplant surgery took place at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

“We got there early in the morning, around 5:30. I was down on one end and Al was down at another end of the hospital,” she said.

After Hunt was given a medical cocktail to relax her, she fell asleep and didn’t fully awaken until Wednesday.

“I don’t remember any of it,” she said about what followed. “My brother remembers going into the operating room. I went in at 8 a.m., my mom said, and I was out by 2 p.m.”

What Hunt does remember about waking was the pain.

“Whew! Yes, I remember that pain. There was a lot,” she said. “I felt like somebody kicked me. It was constant – I was on fire. It was some terrible pain.”

Relief came quickly.

“They introduced me to a morphine drip,” said Hunt, her voice sounding noticeably more relaxed with that memory. “It was smooth.”

Her brother, who also benefited from the narcotic, asked her, “Girl, did you like that?”

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did,” she replied.

When it came time to be weaned off the morphine, Hunt tried to negotiate for more, but to no success.

Her brother is doing well, and hasn’t mentioned feeling any different. She also reports he’s getting his appetite back.

That’s taking longer for Hunt. Tubing in her esophagus makes her throat sore and she’s eating foods that are soft or mushy for the time being.

All in all, Hunt stayed in six days, and by Monday was ready to leave. That was the last day she had to do dialysis, even though Dale had “kicked into action” on Saturday.

For the next few weeks, Hunt will get check-ups. She’s also on a schedule of pills, several of which are to keep her body from rejecting Dale. That will be for life.

In the morning, about 20, then one at noon and another at 5 p.m., and 13 at night.

As Hunt progresses in recovery, the number will be reduced.

“It’s bittersweet,” she said about not having to return to the lengthy and uncomfortable procedure. Before the operation she had been tied to dialysis for six years.

“I miss my family there – not just grandmother and dad, but everybody. I don’t get to see them Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“It’s also a wonderful experience,” she continued with emotion in her voice. “I have this new lease on life. Things you would take for granted, but not anymore. I’m so thankful and so blessed that my brother thought enough of me – loved me enough. He didn’t have to do it.

“I cry every day. Thank you, Lord. I’m so beyond appreciative.”