By Nate Rudman
Three days before Thanksgiving, surgeons from Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles will be cutting through my stomach muscles to give me my father’s kidney. If the thought of receiving a kidney from your dad sounds strange, don’t worry – you’re not the only one feeling a bit weirded out.
I need the transplant because I have Alport’s Syndrome, a disease that gradually causes kidneys to fail. I was diagnosed with the syndrome in seventh grade, and it has also impaired my hearing by making me 50% deaf in both ears.
Living with this disease isn’t an incredibly hard thing to do. Alport’s has played an important role in shaping who I am, but I no longer define myself by it. It has made me enjoy my life far more, making me realize that every moment is precious for what it is, not what it could be. It has also made me more impulsive, and I often find myself rushing into things without thinking.
The most terrifying aspect of Alport’s is that it changed my responsibilities and priorities, and there is nothing I could do to avoid that. For me, however, this has been positive. I have improved my diet, I get daily exercise, I am more devoted to my music, and I think more often about what I can do to improve my life. Unfortunately, it has also made me more self-centered and concerned with my own happiness.
I feel like a very fortunate individual to have an extremely proficient medical team behind me. To have a family that can support me through recovery. To have the economic security to actually go through with the procedure. I am deeply grateful for that opportunity.
So yes, I would assume that living without a kidney disease is easier than living with one, but I am thankful for the life I have, not the one I want. The kidney transplant is coming up quickly, but it just makes me more excited to start my new life, afterwards. Yes, I am absolutely terrified. But that’s okay. That’s life.