One donor's story: Carol Miller

  • Red Wing
  • Organ
  • Living Donor: 2001

My name is Carol Miller and I live in Yuma, AZ.  I am originally from Red Wing, MN, and still live in Red Wing during the summer months.

The most important thing to me is family.  I am so happy that God and HCMC gave me the opportunity to give a gift of my kidney to my sister, Rose Diercks.  I thank my husband, Lenny Miller, for giving me the opportunity and the countless hours of appointments and driving that he did for both my sister and me.  Also, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my children, Sue Robertson, Troy Miller, Amy Braford and the support of my sister’s family. Thanks to the wonderful staff at HCMC who made it possible.

I started out by talking with my daughter, Sue, who was a registered nurse about donating my kidney.  I also talked with my husband Lenny and together we made the decision to hopefully let me  donate a kidney to my sister, Rosie Diercks.  She had been on dialysis for about 1 year and had diabetes for about 10 years.
APRIL 12, 2001- Maundy Thursday I called Rosie from Yuma to tell her I wanted to donate my kidney.  My Easter gift to her.
MAY 8th –  First appointment with HCMC
MAY 22nd – Watched videos.  Met with Patty Evans, who was our transplant coordinator for the whole procedure. Also talked with Dr Odland our surgeon.
MAY 26th –   They have sent our blood to the University of Minnesota and will take about 2 weeks to see how many antigens match.  We each have 6 (3 from mother/3 from father) antigens.  The more we have matching the longer Rosie will keep kidney and less rejection medication.  Now we wait again.
JUNE 12th – We got the call only 1 match.  It is disappointing but they said no problem we can still go ahead.
JULY 27th – Rosie finished stress test
AUGUST 3rd – Patty called and I am clear to start.
AUGUST 16th – list completed for medical exams
SEPTEMBER 7th – Patty called Rosie  and said she was done with her part of the testing.  This is Step 2! Wonderful!  I will get my result Monday.  The waiting is horrible.
SEPTEMBER 10th – Patty said she had an opening for arteriogram this Friday and wanted to know if that was too soon.  I said there is no such thing as too soon and that would be great.   She has tentatively set October 31st for a surgery room for us.  Friday will determine what kidney, as they make map for surgeon’s.  Called Rosie to tell her news.  I am so happy and excited.
SEPTEMBER 14th – I took my IVP records along that were done in Willmar.  I got to Hennepin about 7:30, appointment was for 8.  They took me right in and put a needle in hand for IV feeding and meds if needed.  I waited for Dr. It took him 15 min. to find artery.   It didn‘t take long after that, about 1 hour.  I had to lie still for 6 hours.   I have just one vein to kidney so able to use left kidney.  Hurrah!  Patty stopped to see me and said it would probably be October 23rd for final physical and October 31st for surgery.  She will be sending us a letter for confirmation on it.  I am now also finished with my testing.  This is Step 3.  Fantastic!
SEPTEMBER 24th   – I received a letter from Patty with confirmation for the 23rd and 31st
OCTOBER 31st – The Day Has Finally Come!!!  Went to my daughter Amy’s the night before.  Not too much sleep.  We left Red Wing about 3:45 and got to clinic at 4:50 am.  We checked in at 5:40 and went to first station at 5:50.  They did blood first, blood pressure and paper work.  Said our goodbyes to Rosie.  Then we went to surgery floor at 6:40 am and said my goodbyes to Lenny and Troy.  Part of the team and the anesthesiologist came to talk to me.  He said he would give me something to make me comfortable.  I couldn’t believe it was almost time to happen, we waited so long.  I asked “what time is it?”   He answered “7:30” and I answered back “do you think I will remember that time when I come out?”  I don’t remember a reply or anything after that.  Then I felt someone put her hand on my arm and said “Well, Carol, it is all out and everything went fine.”  I could hardly believe it.  It felt like just a few minutes.  At 9:45 am Patty came out and told Lenny and Troy that the kidney was out and it was big and healthy and that they had to finish sewing me up.  At 10:45 Dr. Mandall came out and said everything went good and would be 1 – 2 hours in recovery room.  When I woke I said can I go to my room and then they called Lenny and Troy and said to meet me around the corner as they were bringing me out.  I came out into the hallway, lifted my head and gave them a big wave.  I  was so happy.  They were surprised to see me so awake.  I got to my room at noon.
Rosie got to her room about 4 pm.  And yes I did remember that I asked for the time and that it was 7:30!
NOVEMBER 3rd – Lenny was in my room by 7:30 am.  I am able and willing to go home today.
NOVEMBER 5th – Rosie got to go home today.

Rosie was so sick so many times and also came back from whatever the problem was.  Rosie’s whole family and Lenny and I went to Hawaii the following year.
Also Gerry and Rosie both came to Yuma, AZ to see us.  I was so happy that they got to at least see our home.  So there was many good things with the problems.  She got to see her Granddaughter, Kate.  Although, she was not able to make it to Dwight’s wedding, she was so pleased to know that he was married and so happy with Dian whom she got to meet.  Also her family and other grandchildren.  She loved them all so much.

Rosie gave up the fight on August 13, 2006.  I was so sad but knew that she had gone to a far better place than here on earth.  I have felt little brushes or tickles when nothing was by me and I have no doubt that Rosie is still letting me know that she was watching over me.

So until we meet again, goodbye to a wonderful sister, friend and confidant.

Carol Miller