When the phone rings at quarter to six in the morning, it's usually not good news
That's the time my primary care physician called to ask my wife and me to come to the hospital. When we got there, my doctor told me I was at serious risk for kidney failure. Right then, my life stopped. I thought, "what brought this on, what do we do now, what is our next step." I stopped looking ahead and started hoping to get through the next day.
My dialysis social worker suggested that I receive my kidney care at Einstein based on her positive experiences with them. My wife and I investigated Einstein's kidney transplant program online and decided to make an appointment. In one day, we met the entire transplant team, and everyone was pleasant. They never treated me like I was a number and answered every question I had. We decided then and there that this would be the right hospital for me.
"The surgery was done on Friday and by Saturday I was up and moving. I felt a great sense of relief, physically and emotionally, to know that everything was going to be all right."
- Tim Linzer - Kidney Donor
After my evaluation at Einstein, I quickly developed a new routine. Dialysis became a part of my life, so my wife and I were constantly adjusting. Because of dietary restrictions on dialysis, we planned meals carefully. The days of tossing a last-minute dinner on the table were over.
I will always go with experience
The entire staff at Einstein is excellent, very knowledgeable. Other hospitals were closer to home, but I didn't feel that they had the same level of experience as Einstein, and I will always go with experience. At Einstein, I was treated like a king. From the second I walked into the hospital to the time I left, the security guards, doctors, nurses, and even the people who cleaned my room treated me like family.
"Since I had my kidney transplant, I can go up a flight of stairs and I don't feel like I'm going to pass out; my legs don't feel like they're 500 pounds any more. I don't have to do dialysis, and I can eat normally."
- Lou Cozze
My transplant was done on a Friday, and by Saturday morning I was out of bed and walking around. I felt no pain through the whole thing. I still cannot believe that they put a new kidney in me, and I felt absolutely no pain. I wasn't ready for that. I didn't know how to act. To have surgery and feel no pain—I still don't know how they did that. The transplant did not go as I thought it would, it went much, much better. It was easier than I thought it would ever be. After surgery I was supposed to be in recovery for a week, and I ended up being at Einstein for only four days.
Return to a normal life again
Since I had my kidney transplant, I can go up a flight of stairs and I don't feel like I'm going to pass out; my legs don't feel like they're 500 pounds any more. I don't have to do dialysis, and I can eat normally. I feel like I'm back to where I was before it all started. I haven't slowed down since I got the surgery. I didn't have surgery just to sit around, I had surgery to get out into the world and see what's going on again. Before my kidney transplant, I had stopped doing many things, and now I can do them again.
An easy decision
After my brother-in-law, Lou, was diagnosed with kidney failure, spent a year on dialysis, and was put on the transplant waiting list, I learned about the living donor program at Einstein. After being tested, I was overjoyed to learn that I was a match. When I told Lou, he asked if I was sure I wanted to be his donor, and I said, "Absolutely."
The Einstein kidney transplant program is the best
If you need a transplant, Einstein is the place to go. The Einstein physicians are the people to call because they know what they are doing. They treated us with so much respect. Every time we came in for our pre-surgery prep visits, at least one of the surgeons would stop in to say hello and explain the procedure one more time. They were like family, but more importantly, they did everything they could to keep us healthy. Because of their thorough explanations, we felt well prepared for surgery; we knew what to expect.
"I was able to help my friend and family member get off dialysis and live a better life, without restrictions."
- Tim Linzer - Kidney Donor
The surgery was done on Friday and by Saturday I was up and moving. I felt a great sense of relief, physically and emotionally, to know that everything was going to be all right. I returned home four days after surgery with only one restriction: I could not lift anything heavier than ten pounds. A kidney donor's recovery time can be as little as two weeks, but my job requires me to lift heavy weights, so my recovery period was longer. That's just another example of how the Einstein team looks at every situation individually and comes up with a specific plan for you.
A life without restrictions
My outlook on life has not changed at all from this experience. I see myself in the same way as I did before the transplant surgery. As a donor, I was able to help my friend and family member get off dialysis and live a better life, without restrictions. To be honest, my family has changed more than I have. My kids now see me as a hero. I think this experience has made them more aware of the people around them. They are more giving, understanding and outgoing, especially when it comes to telling this story to others. It's a good one.