The night before
surgery you will be required to get an IV line, which is used for clear liquids only. You will have blood drawn again in your room as well as x-rays. After that is completed I was given a solution (called Golytely or go-lightly) to drink (1 liter) that will clear all your bowels, so that you don’t get an infection after surgery. IT TASTES bad, yuk. Maybe it is just me, but I couldn’t hold it down and kept puking. Not what I was looking forward to with no sleep the night before surgery. It ended up that I didn’t have to finish the 1 liter as I only got half way through it. I asked the nurse if the doctor would clear me and it was ok so I did get some sleep.

At midnight I was given a Heparin shot in the fatty tissue in the stomach. Now I learned SPECIFICALLY that this is to be only given in your stomach and not in your arm, which happened to me! Heprin is a blood thinning agent that they give you to help your liver during the recovery and you will have many more of these during the recovery. From there the IV was hooked up for 5-7 hrs of that.

At 5am the next morning I was given a scrubbing solution that I washed myself with before the surgery. After that it’s back to the room and on to the gurney to be wheeled down to pre-op where the family will get to see me acting stupid from the drugs.

At this point I was aware that I would wake up in the ICU and would be there for monitoring for 24-48 hrs which is normal. After the Anesthesiologist gave me the relaxation drug I was out, and the next thing you realize is that you’re in a room with a nurse or two and your family. That was probably the most nervous thing for me. I’ve never been put under and it was just weird to me that I’d be out one second and the next wake up without ever knowing what happened.

All in all, I was ok. Not as bad as you make it out to be, but that’s just the way things always happen. Your mind makes it out to be a bigger deal that it actually is.

The day that it happened for me, I woke up in the mid afternoon in no pain because you’re still under the effects of the drugs. Your family will no doubt be there as mine was when I woke up. I don’t remember much from those first 2 days after waking up just because you’re so out of it. It wasn’t till about the 3rd day that I started moving around. They want you to get up and walk a little bit because a blood clot in your system would not be good.

The only thing that I hated with a passion was the NG tube that goes up your nose and down into your stomach. It really upset me that they wouldn’t take it out till I passed gas or a bowel movement. It took 5 days for me to have one and I was about to go insane from having that thing in my nose. It gave me a severe sore throat and made me also lose my voice. After having it removed you can start the liquid diet again so that your body can get used to processing foods somewhat again. After a day or so of that then they let me order off the regular menu. Now you have to be careful here as well. You think that you can just eat whatever you want…. Be careful in what you order, I’d recommend no gassy foods like cabbage or anything like that. Not to mention learning how to urinate again after having a catheter in you for 4 days.

These are small hurdles in the over all scheme of things that you will go through. At the time they seem like a big deal but after they happen it’s nothing big. I would say that YES, I would do it all again after the fact. It wasn’t till about the 6th day that I actually wanted to see my nephew because I knew he was probably feeling like me and well, I didn’t want to see him personally until I knew he was feeling better. I went down to the children’s floor at UCLA to his room after they brought him out of the ICU, and after seeing that little Mohawk and the little guy munching on his fingers and smiling it was all worth it.

Now most people are worried about the scar that it leaves, and that really depends on the incision that the doctors intend to make. For me personally, I already have a few scars from other accidents, so it’s not that big of a deal to me. For others it may be, but in the end when you think about what you’re doing for a family member and the little guy, a scar, the short term hospital stay, the 2 weeks it takes from your life is nothing compared to giving someone the chance at a full life.

You will have a few check-ups and blood work in the following weeks, and continual checkups the rest of your life. Since it is a new procedure for living donors they want to make sure that you’re ok. There are side effects and those vary from person to person. But for the most part people return to their regular life styles. Some have even gone back to Iraq twice and come home and they are still running fine!

Now a few days after the surgery I’m still having trouble sleeping as I do not have a automatic bed like they have at the hospitals. The best solution that I’ve found is a lazy boy or a reclining chair at the Tiverton hotel across the street from UCLA, though I’m not staying there, because they don’t have the room. I go over there to my brother’s room and crash during the day, but as for getting sleep in these 2 weeks total up at UCLA, looks minimal. I have yet to sleep for more than 3hrs without being jolted because of swallowing due to the NG tube and intubation as well as waking up sweating due to the pain medications.

I didn’t take the pain medication while in the hospital just due to the fact that I wanted to be coherent and remember what the doctors were saying. Though now in the hotel I’m taking the Vicodin because getting to sleep and in and out of bed is becoming a chore with out those special beds.

Some of the requirements that I have to do are that for the first month I can’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. This is due to an incision hernia and complications with the incision site as there are sutures under the skin which could tear. No soaking in hot water, just a rinse or dabbing, so no decent showers or hot tub which I can deal with for the time being. As for my diet I’m not restricted except for alcohol and double bacon fat artery clogging cheese burgers. My stomach and liver have to get used to processing food after this major surgery. My liver needs to learn to function on smaller meals more frequently until I am better about 3 months later.

In short, A little pain for mucho gain.

I will at some point add more information and photo’s as both of us get better. There’s a lot of information that I will have to post for people that are in the same position as our family was, and still is.

Thank you for reading and hopefully my experience can help someone else make a simple decision to save a life!