Mom’s Voice: A ‘Transplant’ Father’s Day

Newport Beach Independent Newspaper | Jill Fales
June 10, 1999 was quickly approaching.

“I will be home from the hospital by June 20, I have to barbeque hamburgers for my family for Father’s Day.”

The surgeon reiterated there was no guarantee. After a kidney transplant a recipient could be in the hospital a couple weeks or more. There could be complications.

“Nope,” my dad replied, “I’ll be home then.”

At 5 a.m. on June 10, 1999, my husband pulled into the parking structure at St. Joseph’s hospital. The still of the chilly darkness seemed to fit the mood. While we joked inside the brightly lit hospital, the seriousness of the situation clung to the air.

Not being a morning person, I remember a part of me was looking forward to the surgery so that I could go back to sleep.

I signed a pile of papers, pulled on the compression stockings they handed me and was given a black sharpie marker to initial my body. I took the sharpie and drew a happy face on my left side, just under my ribs. This was to signal that we were all in agreement that the left side was the correct place to cut. Prior intensive testing with contrast die was used to create a roadmap of how and where the arteries were to be cut so that they could be sewn on without incident, into my dad’s body. Only after they successfully removed my kidney, would Dr. Ruzics, my dad’s surgeon, be given the signal to begin in his OR down the hall.