Two months after kidney transplant, life looking up for Sherwood man
Eight weeks to the day that Lisa Marshall donated her right kidney to Theo Yigsaw, the Sherwood woman is just as enthusiastic as she was before she allowed the life-saving procedure to occur.
"I'm doing great," Lisa said during a recent interview, displaying the 10-inch-long scar left by the procedure. "Everything went as planned except I stayed in the hospital a couple more days (longer) than expected."
On April 17, doctors at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital removed Lisa's avocado-sized kidney and transplanted it into Theo's right lower abdomen following several hours of surgery, a procedure designed to save his life.
For Theo, his scar is a little smaller and the new kidney doesn't go in the same place as the old one, rather it's been placed on the right hand side of his stomach below his belly button.
Theo said the transplant has changed his life as well, noting that he's amazed that someone would go through all the pain and trouble Lisa did to give someone a new chance for a longer life.
"What a great gift," said Theo, a computer architect at Intel. "I don't even have words for it."
When he awoke in the hospital, his creatinine level, which tells how well his kidneys are functioning, went up. He said he felt better almost immediately – attributing that partly to the painkillers – but also to his new kidney. While still a little tired as he continues to recover, he said it's nothing compared to before the surgery when he wore out quickly.
For Lisa, there are no regrets at all for what she calls a literally life-changing event.
And to think it all started on the birthday of Theo's wife Erika who went out on her birthday with a group of friends (one being Lisa) to celebrate. During the night she mentioned how her husband was doing (being friends, Lisa already knew).
"And I said 'we need a kidney,'" recalled Erika Yigsaw.
A short time later, Lisa told Erika, whom she had known for more than a decade since they met in the Sherwood MOMS Club, that she would be happy to be a donor.
The fact that Lisa was willing to donate a kidney was something Erika still finds heartwarming.
"It gives you hope for human nature," she said. "It's just so nice to know there's these amazing angels walking around."
Born with a hereditary kidney disease (five of his six siblings suffer from the same disease), Theo said he was told at one point that he might not last a year without a new kidney.
Theo and Lisa joke that when they talk about how well Theo's new kidney is functioning, they refer to it as the "KAK," short for "Kick Ass Kidney."
Even before the surgery, both were in good spirits, attending a tongue-in-cheek "going-away party" for Lisa's kidney several days before the operation. The event came complete with a moldable cheeseball fashioned into the shape of a kidney created by Lisa's friends, Liz and Chris Martin. In addition, Lisa's niece made her an "Aunt Lisa, you are awesome" poster with the letters made out of kidney beans no less.
Meanwhile, Lisa, Theo and Erika said they were very happy with the customer service they received during the operation at Good Samaritan Hospital
"That hospital, they were awesome," said Theo. "They are very competent but very compassionate."
They give credit to their team of surgeons including Dr. Viken Douzdjian, director of transplantation at Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital, and Kevin M. McEvoy, a transplant surgeon with Legacy Good Samaritan Transplant Services.
"They had a really big team and it was like clockwork," said Erika. "We give them five stars on 'Yelp.'"
Erika said Theo's employer, Intel, has been fabulous as well with Theo's boss waiting in the waiting room during the operation and sending cards and fruit baskets with Lisa being the recipient as well.
Meanwhile, Lisa said Donate Life Northwest, an organization that registers and educates residents in Oregon and Southwest Washington about organ donation (including eye and tissue donation), was extremely helpful as well.
Lisa said she talked with Nicole Andergard, a volunteer with Donate Life Northwest, answering the many detailed questions she had.
Andergard knew something about donating a kidney, having donated one of hers to her best friend a decade ago in a decision she does not regret.
"We talked for many hours and we had many messages going back and forth," Andergard recalled of her many heart-to-heart conversations with Lisa. Andergard said the conversation about being a living donor is an important one to consider.
"If you look at the numbers, more people are looking for a kidney than any other organ," she said.
Theo said in a world that involves being bombarded with hate at times, "When you see acts like this, you know there's hope."
Lisa too said she's amazed by the support of everyone, noting that she gets support when they find out she's donated a kidney, "people come up and give me a hug." When a friend of Lisa's told a waitress at a local restaurant that lunch companion had just donated a kidney to a friend of hers "she was like, 'oh my gosh, you saved a life.'"
For her part, Lisa has no regrets, noting that the donation has motivated her to become a better person.
"It gives you a whole lot of perspective in life," she said. "It just motivated me to be better and better every day."
Quick stats on organ donationIn the United States, nearly 100,000 people are waiting for a kidney each day and in Oregon there are 830 people on a waitlist for organ donation, 656 waiting for a kidney. Being a living donor offers sick transplant patients a potentially life-saving alternative (instead of waiting for a deceased donor). Living donations of kidneys have the highest rate of life expectancy