How often do you hear people complain about their in-laws? The relationship can be complicated and in order for it to be successful, it requires a delicate balance of give and take.
Nate Bush, a longtime Saline High School teacher, has gone above and beyond the normal realms of generosity and has donated his kidney to his mother-in-law, Alisande Read.
“It’s amazing,” Read said. “The fact that he would go through surgery for me and donate one of his organs so that I could have a more normal life, it is just incredible.”
Read said she has been dealing with kidney disease as long as she can remember.
“I have had kidney disease since I was 18 and I am 63 now, so I don’t really know what it feels like to feel well,” Read said. “It has been a gradual decline for me.”
Kidney function is measured in glomerular filtration rate or GFR, which is basically a measure of how well your kidneys are filtering the blood in your body. A person with functioning kidneys is usually around a 90 or 95 GFR, but Read’s GFR was just 50 when she was 18 and has only been declining since.
Roughly four years ago, Read’s GFR had come all the way down to 13, which is the point when you can begin to look at a kidney transplant.
“My wife actually went in and got tested and she was a match,” Bush said. “So she went through all of the testing and unfortunately they found out because she had kidney stones when she was pregnant with my son a couple of years ago, she wasn’t eligible to do the actual donation. That was very heartbreaking because you can imagine the emotional rollercoaster of knowing you are eligible but they won’t take it.”
Following the disappointing setback, Bush decided to take the matter into his own hands.
“I decided to give it a try, and at that point I didn’t even know my blood type,” Bush said. “So I went through the two days of testing and found out I was eligible and I was a match.”
After it was discovered Bush was a match for a donation, Read’s GFR rating began to rise and doctors started to think they may actually never need to do a kidney transplant surgery, Bush said.
Then came another negative revelation.
“About a year and a half after that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Bush said. “They caught it early and got rid of it very quickly, so she dealt with that for about two years. Coming out of breast cancer, her GFR number’s started coming back down.”
With Read’s GFR number’s becoming an issue again, it was time to start looking at surgery and Bush was ready to step to the plate.
Bush said once he came to the conclusion to go through with the surgery, the hospital was flexible when working with his schedule.
“There were some logistics to manage,” Bush said. “The good thing about the transplant process is, and it sounds weird but, when you are a donor everything is based around the donor, not the receiver. It sounds totally backwards and I was surprised by that but basically they are saying you are giving a sacrifice, you do it when you are able too.”
The surgery was a success for both Bush and Read and both are now in recovery.
“Recovery time is about eight weeks for both of us,” Bush said. “For me it is going to be about two weeks of active recovery where I need to really lay low and not do much. In total though the recovery is about eight weeks because there is a weight restriction with it being an abdominal surgery so I can’t lift more than 10 pounds while the muscles heal up.”
Bush said if other people find themselves in a similar position, he would encourage them to look at the big picture.
“The process is scary for a lot of people, but it’s not that bad,” Bush said. “It is a couple of weeks where you are down and out but beyond that my life after this is exactly the same, there are no restrictions, there is nothing I can’t do.”
Read was incredibly lucky she found two people in her immediate family who were a match for her kidney transplant.
“It is a pretty rare situation,” Bush said. “The doctors didn’t really say too much in terms of how rare it was but my step-father-in-law, he listens to this podcast called The Odds Must be Crazy, and basically they do odds on crazy stories and they said the odds of that happening where the daughter and son-in-law are kidney matches is 5 million to 1.”
Read said the surgery has provided her and Bush a special bond.
“I felt close to him before, but now I feel even closer,” Read said. “We’re really sharing something now.”
Below is a video from WDIV: