A Conversation with Fr. Malloy - After kidney donation surgery

Notre Dame fans are gearing up for the football season, and President Emeritus Father "Monk" Malloy plans to be there with them.

The big difference -- he is recovering from major surgery.

I sat down for A Conversation with Father Malloy Friday, just a week and a half after he donated one of his kidneys to help his nephew.

When I sat down with him, he described his kidney donation surgery much like many of us would describe a visit to the dentist.

Last fall, he made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to his nephew Johnny Rorapaugh, who was living on dialysis.

Then three weeks before his August 11th surgery, doctors asked Fr. Malloy and Johnny to swap with a mother and son who weren't completely compatible.

Everything went well, and Fr. Malloy told me "they're off dialysis -- that's a tremendous freedom."

Fr. Malloy also shared some of his pre- and post-operation photos with us.

He says he was never in pain

"I almost have a feeling like there's a hole somewhere inside of my left side of my innards, where the kidney would be. It's not something I worry about, since that's a natural function -- it has to fill in."

In fact, this former athlete started walking two to three miles a day five days after surgery.

"Yesterday I walked around the lakes, although I did sit down five times along the way, for prudential reasons," he explains.

While Johns Hopkins has done other kidney swaps with incompatible donors, the swap he and Johnny made with mom Bev and son George was different.

"This is the first time in human history that they've ever done a compatible pair -- I could have donated easily to my nephew. With an incompatible pair -- so that the combination of the two expanded the swap potential -- what they're trying to do is use our example as a way of motivating others."

Everyone involved was anonymous, so finding out who the donors were provided some post-surgical comic relief.

I asked Fr. Malloy if the woman he donated his kidney to had known, going into the surgery, that she was getting the kidney of Notre Dame's president emeritus. "No, nor did she need to know," he answered. "It was just a good kidney, I hoped."

"When she found out who I was, they were saying that, because she had a holy kidney, she had to behave better than she usually did," Fr. Malloy recalls. "I said, ‘it doesn't work that way.’"

But that doesn't mean this wasn't a holy experience.

"I really do believe in providence," says Fr. Malloy. "So I see God's hand in all of that. It's not something I ever thought about or planned for -- nor did, I think, any of us -- but since the results have been so good, I see God in it all."

Fr. Malloy is humble about donating a kidney and only shared his story in hopes of helping others.

"I've only shared it selectively, but if it serves a good purpose, there's nothing about what I've gone through that is not worth it," he says. "I can clearly say it's one of the most important things I've ever done in my life."

Fr. Malloy says he never gave thought to the fact that his father had one kidney, or that in his early years at Notre Dame he taught a class on transplantation in a biomedical ethics class.

For our previous conversations with Fr. Malloy concerning his kidney donation, click the following links:

A Conversation with Father Malloy - Part 1: Donating a kidney
A Conversation with Father Malloy - Part 2: The need for kidney donors
Fr. "Monk" Malloy leaves hospital, feels "amazingly well"

Also, my entire uncut conversation with Fr. Malloy can be viewed by clicking the video link at the top of this story.

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