Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So I'm back to continue my story, and if you haven't read the first part, definitely do so by clicking HERE. I had left off on the night before the surgery, when my husband had offered me the opportunity to back out and I simply and calmly said that no, I could not, because I just 'felt' and knew that the kidney was no longer mine, that I had been holding it for Orly for the last 43 years and now it belonged to her.

The previous Monday I had gone into New York for my pre-op checkup and to meet the surgeon. Previous to that my stress levels were running pretty high. I was trying to do research as to exactly how dangerous the procedure was and what it would feel like after. Many people told me it was comparable to a c-section which I had never had. Some people I knew were fine right after a c-section and some people suffered terribly for weeks. Another wonderful and very brave 'new' friend of mine, who had just donated a kidney a few weeks before me, told me it was much worse to her than her c-section. I honestly did NOT know what to expect.

That Monday, when I got the hospital for my pre op appointment, I saw a cute young woman in the waiting area and just had this 'feeling' that this was the recipient. She smiled at me as I got called in to have more blood taken and to meet with my other coordinator, Marion. When I sat down with the Marion I asked straight out, "Was that the recipient?" She smiled and said, "I'm not going to lie to you, it is. Would you like to meet her?" I was so taken aback, I didn't really know what to say. Was I allowed to meet her before the surgery? What would it be like? Marion told me she thinks I should meet her and went to ask Orly (the recipient) if she would like to meet me.

When she entered the room, the emotions were completely overwhelming. She tried to thank me but she could hardly get the words out as they were interrupted by streams of tears.  I stood there feeling awkward and humbled and completely unworthy of her gratitude. The magnitude of what was happening here was way more than my brain could comprehend in that moment and I just struggled for the right words to say. I have no recollection what I did say but I remember hugging and crying. And as she explained to me her gratefulness of not having to go on dialysis, never did I understand more than in that moment what real relief from real fear felt like. I cannot explain to you the gratefulness I felt for my health. Hashem truly gives us EXTRA doses of health so we can help those who have less. There is no doubt in my mind about that!

During that day, so many of my fears were eased. The first thing I said to the coordinator and to the surgeon were, "Whatever you do I CANNOT die because my family will be really pissed at me if I do!" Humor definitely is a tool I use to get me through my scary moments. Both of their reactions were the same. They laughed and said that was not going to happen...they could not break their records of success! They both reassured me that the procedure was safe and easy. Easier than a hernia operation or a c-section. I even asked if it was easier than a tummy tuck. I mean, think about all the people that voluntarily go under the knife for reasons of vanity! They both told me the recovery for plastic surgery is much more painful and the surgery much more difficult. I was feeling much better now, I'm not going to lie, the thought of plastic surgery had on occasion entered my mind (not that I would actually do it but I highly doubt it's not a fantasy of many women.) If I would consider that, and this was easier, how could I not do this?

My coordinator explained exactly what  I would feel after the surgery. She said I would wake up groggy and drugged and not feel any pain. She said I may be a little nauseous from the anesthesia (I was NOT), and my throat might be scratchy from the breathing tube (it was NOT). She said my worst pain would be on day two and three and mostly from the gas that they pump into you to make room for the surgery. Once the gas pain passed it would feel like extreme achiness as if I did 1000 sit ups or something like that. And I can honestly say that they did not lie to me. Everything they said was either easier or exactly like they said.

After I met him, I googled the surgeon and found out he is a top Urologist who heads the department and practices the most cutting edge technology in laproscopic and robotic surgery. By now I was feeling really confident and happy about the whole process.

Thursday - Surgery Day: 

(times are approximate)

4 AM

The alarm goes off. I hear my husband say,  "Sharon get up it's time!" I'm seriously not awake. I tell myself, "Get up, you can't just not show up for surgery. Okay I'll just close my eyes for a second."

Next thing I know, a little more urgent, "Sharon wake up we have to leave!" Okay it's time.

5:15 AM

We are driving into the city, I'm eerily calm.  We cross Manhattan and drive through Times Square, the lights and colors all feel so vivid and surreal. I feel more alive than ever.

6:30 AM

I am changed into my scrubs and chilling with my hubs in a waiting area. He's trying to take pictures of me with my puffy blue surgical hat to post on Facebook. My heart is beating pretty fast so I take some deep breaths. The people from Renewal come in to give us support, then the surgeon comes in to mark off the area of surgery. I start asking for tequila shots or valium from anyone that enters the room even though I am fasting and know I cannot eat or drink anything.

7:30 AM

It's time! First I get escorted to see Orly and meet her family. She is not nervous at all. She looks beautiful and is smiling from ear to ear. Then I say bye to my husband, something like, "See ya soon....luv you!" and walk right up to the OR where I'm greeted by the cutest looking girls in scrubs. I'm like, "Hey are you girls going to be assisting with the surgery? This all looks so cool, like a real life Greys Anatomy." They laugh and say yes, it is really cool and it's exactly like Grey's Anatomy but without that shall not be mentioned here. We all laugh. I climb up on the warmed table and say, "This is actually really nice, I feel like I'm about to get a massage or something." They laugh and say, "Yes we treat our donors like real VIPs" I make another joke about someone getting me some tequila shots and they are like, "We have something much better for you than that." Next thing I know I'm all happy and lala, then...lights out.

10:30 AM

I wake up and I'm fine! I vaguely try to remind myself how grateful I'm supposed to feel that I didn't die, but I'm really just too tired and relaxed. I see my husband hovering before me and I'm really happy to see him. He comes over and reminds me that I promised people I would pray for them when I first woke up from the surgery. (Supposedly this is a very special time to pray.) He assists me in what I'm supposed to say...I'm half alert but I feel good. I sleep.

Later I'm moved into my room. I am fully alert and was able to transfer into my bed. When I feel any pain I call the nurse and she gives me meds. People come to visit me throughout the day and evening. I'm in good spirits and tell people this is easier than having a baby. By Thursday night they take me off morphine and give me percocet. I'm good to go!

This is me three hours after surgery!


I wake up and feel like a truck ran over me. Okay this is what they were talking about. Like my coordinator had told me, the pain was mostly in my shoulders from gas. That little fact takes the entire fear factor out of the pain and makes it completely bearable. My nurse comes in to bother me about getting up to walk. She tells me, "The more you walk the faster the gas will come out and the quicker you'll feel better." Nice. As I lay in bed I listen to people walking up and down the hallways burping really loud. Nice. I push myself to get up and walk. I'm thinking, if only the fashion people could see me now...

Five days later...

It's Tuesday afternoon. My ten year old just came home from school and is making banana cake with my 16 year old while I laze it up in bed writing this post on my laptop. Since Friday, may pain has been truly minimal. I have cut my percocet dosage in half and am slowly weaning myself off. Actually I feel amazing.
I'm eating regularly, going to the bathroom regularly and enjoying all the positive feedback and connection I have been receiving over the last few days via phone, email, my blog and facebook. I am secretly relishing in the fact that all around me women are rushing around to get ready for Pesach and I get to take it easy.

And here's the best part: I have been in touch with my new friend, Orly, who is doing amazing too. Her numbers are unheard of...HER new kidney is BH working great!

Kidney disease is a terminal illness and without the kidney's ability to effectively filter one's blood the body becomes toxic and deathly ill. Dialysis is the process of removing the blood, cleaning it and putting it back in the body. It is painful and takes hours out of people's lives. Life on dialysis is hardly life at all. Receiving a kidney is receiving a new life.  This is what Orly wrote on Facebook today:

"I just want to let everyone know that Sharon Langert saved not only my life, she saved my 7 years old and my husband's life.....Sharon is amazing person from inside and you Sharon"

If you have any thoughts at all of possibly donating one of your kidneys or even considering this amazing Mitzvah, please come forward. Contact me at, message me on FACEBOOK or contact Renewal HERE. I can explain to you why you can live with just one kidney the same way you've been living your whole life, and also ease your fears about what the process will feel like.

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  1. I am tearing up out here in are one amazing woman, Sharon. And I rarely say "amazing" unless I really mean it.

    I had an appendectomy several years ago and had the very same shoulder pain from the gas as you had. Not fun but not excruciating and it passed fast. One word of caution - rest even longer than you feel like you want to. You may think that you're ready to get back to normal activities but you're really not. So take it easy on yourself and allow your family and friends to pamper you.

    Am sharing on FB - this is too wonderful not to.
    xo, Adrienne

  2. Hi! so good to see a picture of you looking great! Hope your recovery is speedy and effortless. I am humbled by your prays for others as you heal.

  3. You are clearly a very special person and truly inspiring!

  4. Wow....I'm in tears <3

  5. You are an amazingly inspirational person. Definitely there is place in heaven for you.

  6. Sharon I am sitting here in tears...from being so moved and also from laughter! The way you relate to this whole experience is so admirable. May G-d continue to bless you and Orly with good health and strength and abundant blessings! Wish I lived closer so I can visit or do things for you, I so would! REST REST REST! Big hugs!!

  7. Sharon, you are a true inspiration! I'm amazed by your selfless act of kindness. You have a great way of writing and I truly enjoy reading your blog.

  8. Sharon,

    I can't believe how brave you were. Not knowing about all it took to do this, you went through so much. I'm not sure if I could have even gotten through the first tests.

    Writing about your experience doing this encourages others that they can do it too.

    Take care of yourself and take it easy for a while.


  9. You don't need all of us to tell you what an amaaazing person you are- it is very clear and I think you know that! Your story of selflessness, of compassion, of gratitude to Hashem, makes this blog way more than just fashion. Thank you Sharon.

  10. You probably have no idea what a huge thing you have done. Goofing a piece of yourself to anyone else must be the most selfless thing you could do. Your story was so inspiring, and I thank you for sharing it with the world. I hope that this can be a light for other people, perhaps not to be as courageous as you are, but to start a like filled with giving. I hope that you and all your readers live a life a giving and never taking. Thank you!

  11. Goodness Sharon!

    You look gorgeous three hours after surgery -

    This is so touching. I can't imagine how you feel now as well as the recipient. What a rush of emotion and love.

    Take care of yourself and rest, be with your family.

    xoxo leslie

  12. Sharon ...; I loved reading your post (went back and read part 1) and the warm fuzzy feel that occurred with each new paragraph and turn in this journey. I would definitely say you were "chosen".

    As, someone who has many, many, many people to thank for donating blood (doctor's stopped counting at around 54-56 units of blood I received ~ and I still required much more)... I can tell you, you didn't give a kidney ... you gave someone, her child and husband a new life!! Something that no amount of thanks or words are enough...

    From the bottom of my heart - you are a blessings to the world!! Blessings, C (HHL)

  13. Speechless!You have a special ability to be so normal and relate-able yet inspire and light up the world!

  14. I'm sitting over here, in tears as I read about your incredible journey. Sharon, you're one of the most inspiring and amazing women I've ever(sort of) met. All I can say is how amazing would this world be if there were more people like you!! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you recuperate! xoxo

  15. Truly amazing! Blessings on you and your family! What an inspiration you (and your husband) are! Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Your are amazing and an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story. Blessings on you and your family!

  17. Thank you for sharing your journey. I could not help but tear up for you and Orly. It is truly remarkable what you have done. May you go from strength to strength! xoxo, Oksana

  18. WOW Sharon, I'm speechless. I've read both stories just now and am beyond amazed at your bravery and selflessness. I could always tell what a kind and generous person you were by your comments, but are wonderful!!

  19. What a beautiful, selfless thing to do. So inspiring - you are a wonderful, wonderful woman!

  20. You are incredible! Your selflessness is truly inspiring and your story was touching and humorous ...

  21. All the best to you and your family Sharon. The world needs more people like you. Thank you for sharing this inspirational story.


  22. I'll say it again Sharon you are truly God sent and an amazing person. I'm glad to read Orly is doing so well and I wish her a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself and I can't belive you were on your computer three hours after surgery!

    Enjoy your day!

  23. Sharon, I'm overwhelmed reading this post. What a brave & responsible woman you are. May God continue to bless you & Orly, and may everyone else learn a very important message from this. Sending love....

  24. Amazing. I sit here in tears at this beautiful gift that you have given.

    Big hugs to you and your family and to the other amazing woman and her family!


  25. Again Sharon, you made me sob....There is no words to describe how brave an amazing woman you are...
    I feel privileged to get to know you, your story is just so touching and inspiring!
    I wish you a restful recovery
    Sonia xo

  26. Wow i am amazed that people could reach such great levels of good, to do such a kind thing. You took the time and effort to give away a part you to someone you dont even know.

    You should publicize this more, you are likely to encourage others to do such great deeds.

    How in the world does one thanks someone for giving them a kidney and saving their life?! Truly amazing ...

  27. You my friend are just AMAZING AND SOOOO INSPIRING! And to think you look that beautiful and glamorous in your hospital bed and! You are just something. What a wonderful story this is. Can I share it on my kind of random post tomorrow? I would love for others to read about what you have done...I am so touched and inspired, its sooo worth sharing! Hope you are feeling better, sending you a great big HUG!

  28. Much like the other comments...
    I am crying at my computer thinking of how selfless and courageous you are! Most would ONLY go under the knife if they had to save themselves, not voluntarily to save another.
    Bless you and your donor! So glad to hear she is doing well...
    You are an incredible woman Sharon!

  29. What an unselfish gift.
    You are a light - a bright, happy light.

  30. wow...what an inspirational post, well done on this blog!

  31. the most beautiful and meaningful post ever! you are amazing! Yasher koach and you should see only simcha in your life

  32. Your story is inspiring! An amazing act of generosity and selflessness. I've never heard anything like it. I hope you recover well! Sending you warm wishes from Ireland,


  33. I have been a follower of your awesome blog for some time now but this is my first post. I am so amazed at your will and vision to do something so special...orly is sure lucky to have a piece of you in her!

  34. I love checking in to your blog to hear more about you and your story! You are AMAZING!!!!! Wishing ALL the best for you, because you deserve it!


  35. what a touching story! You are an amazing lady!

  36. may your recovery be swift and painless! This post brought me to tears-you are a blessing on the world! :-)

  37. may your recovery be swift and painless!this post had me in tears-you are a blessing on the world!

  38. To give the gift of life to another human being is one the most selfless things one can do. You are truly an inspiration, Sharon. Orly is truly a blessed person to have received this gift from a very special donor! Love to you and the many others that offer so much kindness and compassion to others. May all of life's joys come your way.

  39. I cried reading this. You are an amazing person, so selfless. I wish that half of the world could be this way, it would definitely be a better place. God bless you and you family.

    Sheila, new follower

  40. Than you for sharing your story. I'm donating a kidney to my mom this Friday and I admit that I'm terrified!

  41. September 5th 2014 I donated my kidney to my sisters husband. It was probably the easiest decision I have ever made; but I must commend you because I don't think I could have gone through all this for someone who I didn't know.

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