It’s normal to be worried when a loved one is going to have surgery. I am having some trouble sleeping myself as K-Day approaches–this Friday! I find myself turning to two different pieces of writing over and over that are very comforting. I would like to share them with the people who are worrying about me.
Remind your friends and family of the following things:
The donation of a kidney is laparoscopic surgery, meaning small incision and quicker recovery. Most donors are out of the hospital on the next day, back at work in two weeks, and back to normal in a month. The surgery is no more dangerous than any procedure done under general anesthesia. The anesthesia is the real risk factor…
There is no scientific evidence in 50 years of living kidney donations that there are any ill effects to living with one kidney. Within five weeks of donation, the remaining kidney swells in size and increases its filtering power (the “glomerular filtration rate”) to match the power of two kidneys. In short, you’ll have a single super-kidney instead of two simply adequate kidneys.
When kidney disease occurs, it nearly always strikes both kidneys at the same time. It’s not like one kidney fails and you find yourself knocking on wood, thankful that you’ve got a spare. If I should develop kidney disease, I will need treatment or a transplant – just like I’d need if I had two kidneys. If a kidney donor needs a transplant, they go straight to the front of the line on the kidney transplant list, which seems like a very fair deal to me.
Tom recommends a really good article by Virginal Postrel, “Here’s Looking at You Kidney.” It is a step by step account of her kidney donation to a friend. I like reading it to see how things will most likely go for me. Some highlights:
Things went pretty much as advertised. One minute Sally and I were on beds being wheeled down the hall. I was nervous for about two seconds.
And then I woke up. My husband and parents were there, looking relieved. The nurse took off my oxygen mask so they could feed me ice chips…I got used to answering a list of excretory questions, starting with “Have you passed gas?” After 24 hours on a catheter, my body refused for a while to urinate on command. When I learned to pee again, the nurse did a victory dance. All in all, it was a very dignified experience.