D’Ahn McDonald would give her father anything — do anything for him. That’s not even a question for her.
And even though she didn’t give a particularly memorable gift on Father’s Day, she can celebrate more of those holidays with him because of a gift she did give her father.
A few years ago, McDonald gave her father, Tim Inman, one of her kidneys.
“That’s my dad,” she said emphatically. “He needed one and I’ve got another one left.”
This is how she recalls her family’s situation resulting in the February 2015 organ transplant surgery at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. It’s as clear today as it was four years ago when McDonald and Tim Inman were bonded through transplant.
“My dad had kidney failure; treatment worked for a while, but then it got worse,” she explained about the time leading up to the decision. “It came down to transplant being the only solution. I never hesitated, ‘I’ll do it!’”
McDonald smiled when remembering telling her mother her decision. Cheryl Inman naturally, was “freaked out,” according to McDonald. Both mother and father said no, but McDonald was determined to help regardless of what her parents said.
“My mother reminded me that I wanted more kids, but I didn’t care,” said McDonald, who had one daughter at the time. “I have two brothers, but I knew I would be a match. And, I knew I would be the one to do it. I convinced them I was the one. I even applied to be the donor myself.”
The testing for a transplant surgery takes about a year, McDonald said.
“And of course, I was a perfect match,” McDonald said matter-of-factly. “They had to decide which kidney would be best to take and we finally got a date to do the operation.”
Tim Inman still can’t believe he got a kidney from his daughter. His official diagnosis was hypertensive crisis, a period of severe increased blood pressure which can often lead to a stroke. On Christmas morning 2013, Tim Inman had an episode.
“I thought I was dying,” he recalled the day. “My blood pressure was off the charts. I spent seven days in the ICU. I went downhill from there. I ended up on kidney dialysis — worse experience of my life.”
The four-hour per day and three day-a-week dialysis process prompted Tim Inman and his family to look at options. His were simple: do a kidney transplant or stay on dialysis. Doctors told Tim Inman he could either get on the donor list or have a living donor offer the organ to him, and more than likely, that would be a family member.
“Almost immediately, D’Ahn came to me, ‘I’ll do it!’” Tim Inman said with admiration in his voice. “The donor had to be compatible; and have the same blood type and she was a perfect match.”
But there was one issue remaining: the aforementioned future children for McDonald. After discussing it among family and doctors, the consensus was to wait on a possible transplant in order for a possible pregnancy to occur.
“We had already been trying to get pregnant for three years, so after another year, I decided it wasn’t going to happen,” McDonald explained. “So I told them one child is enough. She’ll be an only child. That’s fine if that’s what happens. We need to do this transplant now.”
With the final decision made, the family began the process of actually making the operation happen. It was set for February 24, 2015, a Tuesday afternoon.
“I kept getting signals that everything was going to be fine,” Tim Inman said. “There we were at Baylor in Dallas, and I run into an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years in the parking lot. Then one of the nurses graduated with me and knew my dad. I hadn’t seen her in years either. Then, the anesthesiologist was an AC (Austin College) graduate. It was such a neat experience.”
McDonald was taken back first to begin the procedure and an hour later, Tim Inman went into surgery. Tim Inman said he didn’t know anything for a day, but was able to get up and walk around right after that. He got to leave the hospital in four days as did his daughter.
“I got to go home on Friday,” McDonald said. “But dad had to stay in the area. They had to check to see if the organ was going to reject. He went to doctor’s appointments every day for a couple of weeks; and then, every other day for a few more weeks. I think he stayed down there near Baylor for a couple of months after the transplant.”
“Once I saw that he was fine — six weeks after I got home — I was pregnant,” McDonald laughed. “I guess there was a time and place for everything and in its order. I now have a nine year old and a three year old.”
“God works in mysterious ways,” Tim Inman said. “She (D’Ahn) saved my life; and he (God) gave life back to her. It was and is still an incredibly neat, neat experience for me and my family.”
Recovery for Tim Inman and McDonald went smoothly and Tim Inman said his new kid functions great.
“I have a working kidney and so does my daughter,” he summarized. “I wish everyone with kidney failure could experience the joy of a transplant.”