The day was April 3, 2014, in St. Louis, CHS junior Andrew Hagood knew this was the day that he was going to get a kidney transplant…and his mom was the donor.
“I was in shock about the whole thing,” Andrew says. “I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was.”
He went to the hospital and waited pensively until the nurses said, “It’s time.” Then, they went down to the surgery room—and before Andrew went under, his dad showed him a video that his mother made a few days before. In the video his mother told him that everything would be okay and that she loved him very much.
The kidney transplant took nearly five hours to complete. Thankfully, there were no complications with Andrew’s surgery—and his mom made a quick recovery.
“I felt extremely fortunate that everything went smoothly during the whole procedure,” Hagood remarks. “I am also very glad that I didn’t have to go through dialysis.”
While Andrew was still living in St. Louis, his younger sister, Anna, was a CHS student. She says she was in class when she found out he had kidney surgery—and that she was devastated that she could not be there with him.
“We chatted on FaceTime every day for two weeks after he had his surgery,” Anna says. “I wanted him to know how much I cared for him, even though I couldn’t be in Missouri to support him while he had surgery and was in recovery.”
When Andrew was diagnosed with kidney disease in the seventh grade, he discovered that his kidneys had been significantly degraded: they only functioned at 45 percent. By the time he finally had the surgery, his kidneys were only working at 3 percent.
For six months before Hagood got the surgery, the first thing he would do in the morning was throw up. His mother, Ashleigh, said that when the doctors first told them that Andrew had kidney disease, they were all completely shocked. After researching Andrew’s kidney disease, the family felt better and had positive thoughts.
Still, “it was really hard for all of us,” Ashleigh says. “The hardest part was watching Andrew get sicker and sicker each day.”
Now, a year later, Andrew is doing much better.
“I feel much better and healthier now, after the surgery, than before,” he says.
However, Andrew still faces obstacles today. Every morning and night, he has to be sure to not skip any of his seven pills: if he were to forget, his body would reject the donated kidney, which could be fatal. Furthermore, Andrew has to drink at least four liters of water a day to keep his one kidney working properly. At least once a month, he also has to drive up to Stanford Medical Hospital and get his blood drawn by kidney specialists. So far, three biopsies have been performed to make sure that everything is working normally.
“[He is] the strongest and most resilient person I know,” Ashleigh says. “[He] handled this very well and we didn’t get super emotional. [He] didn’t freak out and [he] just took things as they came.”
Some of Andrew’s hobbies include photography, reading and gaming. After his surgery, he has had plenty of time to enjoy most of these activities.
“I love photography because it gives me a chance to be at peace with myself and with nature,” he comments.
Andrew first developed an interest in photography two years ago, but he had always thought that black and white photography was riveting. He took a class on vintage photography at his old school in Missouri—and by the time he had finished the coursework, he was hooked. Today, Andrew aspires to become a professional photographer after attending UC Santa Cruz.
Despite the obvious challenges Andrew has faced as of late, he strives for excellence on a daily basis: something that can inspire us all.\