My Donor Story: Dave Ashley
I donated a kidney in January 2017 while I was on active duty military service, and donated to a West Point classmate and Army veteran.
Did you know there are over 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a kidney donation to save their life? And that a donation from a living donor has a better chance of doing just that?
During the summer of 2016, while I was an Air Force Colonel working in the Pentagon, I saw a post on Facebook about a college classmate who was very ill. Chris was sick; his kidneys had suddenly failed in late 2015 and the doctors could not identify the cause. He had rapidly gained weight and suddenly collapsed, and following an emergency room visit immediately started receiving dialysis treatments several days per week. His health continued to get worse over the next 13 months due to the dialysis treatments. Chris had almost died on that initial incident and again several months later when he developed a blood infection.
His family members were unable to donate, so Chris faced waiting for up to seven years on the kidney donation waiting list. Many people waiting on dialysis several years never survive to receive a donated kidney.
All that was required from me was a simple blood draw, so I said what the heck and did it. I didn’t know anybody that was a living donor or had received a kidney transplant before. I thought very likely I would not be a match, but I had done my part by getting tested.
Following the first blood test, I was asked to have two more and to urinate into a cup a few times over the next few weeks. It dawned on me that I could be close to a match at this point, and I decided to talk about the decision with my family and my doctor. I researched on the internet and spoke to the living donor advocate at the hospital Chris was visiting as well (in Boston), and in general became educated on becoming a living donor.
After one more series of test done on-site at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, I was officially approved as a match. While I could change my mind up until I entered the operating room for the surgery, there was no hesitation.
Following a successful surgery, we have both recovered our health. I only have a few scars to show from the experience, and Chris takes daily anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life. He has now returned to work, can travel again, and is raising his son and sending time with his wife. In addition to simply being alive, his quality of life is hugely improved into the foreseeable future.
So thank you for reading about my story! I hope you will share this story with others, that you will consider becoming a living organ donor!
David Ashley, Colonel (Retired), US Air Force