Chapter One: Diagnosis
Chapter Two: Donor?
Chapter Three: Dialysis
Chapter Four: Transplant
Chapter Five: Recovery
From My Lens
 Chapter Four: Transplant

APRIL 4, 2000 -- There is no way to fully prepare yourself for an operation like this. It's so much more complicated than a simple hospital stay. There are panic attacks and shaky nerves to steady. It's also easy to underestimate the psychological effects of a loved one giving you his or her organ so that you might live a longer, fuller life.

On Tuesday, March 28, Amber and I packed up her car and headed out to Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where we met my father. We underwent a few pre-operative tests the following day, and Thursday I dialyzed hopefully for the last time.

My dad, Amber and I woke up around 3 a.m. Friday, March 31, as did a couple of photographers who walked with us to Northwestern's emergency room, where we waited to be admitted. After that, the waiting just continued. My dad's surgery didn't begin until around 9 a.m. Hours passed before we heard his operation was taking a little longer than expected, simply because his adrenal gland was more tightly stuck to his kidney than most people's.

A little before 2 p.m., I was wheeled from my room on the 11th floor to the operating room on the seventh, where I was given the chance to question doctors one last time before surgery. Two and a half hours after my operation began, I was taken to the recovery area. Shortly after, I returned to the 11th floor, which was my home until I transferred to Northwestern's Galter/Carriage Outpatient Pavilion on Monday, April 3, where I stayed until Amber brought me home April 10.

WARNING -- Beginning with Photo 13, some of the surgery images contain graphic material.

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