Adventures of a Kidney Donor

May 12, 2010

A Trip to University of Michigan Hospital


I went to the U of M transplant center today for my big tests!  This is the big elimination round. My biggest fear is that they will find something wrong  so I can’t donate. That would be terrible! It’s looking good so far. The committee meets tomorrow and next Thursday so I should know tomorrow or on the 20th. Gulp. The transplant coordinator says so far, so good. They will examine my Cat Scan. He wants the blood test and urine analysis redone. Not a big issue, but my fatty liver deposits (or something like that) are a little high. It wouldn’t prevent me from being a donor but he wants to look at it more. My LDL is a little high so I am sure it is all related. The surgeon said the LDL is not a big issue.

My good buddy Kris went with me.  Jackie had dialysis and couldn’t go–I will be so glad when she is free of that!  Kris used to live in A squared so she helped me, the navigation impaired. She rescued me on US 23 which was a parking lot due to construction–whisked us off on a detour which was a breeze. She navigated me around Ann Arbor and the hospital (I am an IDIOT with directions.) She listened to me babble, sat around for HOURS–she is great. She wouldn’t let me buy her dinner for her trouble so I am going to kick her Scottish ass–ha ha.


I met a son donating to his mother. I met another mother whose son is donating to her daughter so she has two kids to worry about. I thought: I am lucky to be healthy. I am lucky that this hospital is only one hour from my home. I will be very lucky if I can help someone.


I found every staff person helpful and professional. If you look lost in the hallways (story of my life) people who don’t even know why you are there give you directions without you even having to ask. When the staff doing the various tests looked on my chart and saw I was a donor they all said “Great!” and asked me about it.

I hadn’t realized that donors have a separate coordinator and advocate so we have people dedicated just to us and the recipients have people dedicated to them. This helps any conflicts of interest. The ultimate goal is healthy people on each end, not to just perform transplants. I had a list of questions (see below) and most of them were answered without me having to ask. I was treated like a person and not an abstract donor.

The day started with a donor telling us about his kidney donation to his uncle . He had a very positive experience and was he was frank about what to expect. The list of questions (see below) says to ask to talk to a donor who had the procedure at the same hospital you will be going to so U of M was all over that.


Willing donation was the BIG theme of the day. They want donors not to feel coerced or pressured in any way. They kept stressing that you can back out even as they are wheeling you into the OR. They give you a “face saving” medical excuse out of donating if you need it. They want to make sure you are physically ready and to protect your health in the future.   They want to make sure you are psychologically prepared.


First I had a chest xray which was a breeze except for the nipple marker stickers you have to put on. OUCH when you remove them–ha ha. I had blood drawn. No big deal. I was a bit taken aback when I saw the five vials and on the third vial the phlebotomist said “Gee, your blood flow just slowed down” but then it was rolling again.  Urine sample well, you know. They have you drink tons of water the day before and day of so no problemo. One amusing thing, the technician made it sound like I had to run the urine sample up to the lab because they needed it fast. I thought: “PLEASE tell me I don’t have to carry this baggie with my urine in it around this hospital and I will surely get lost and have to ask for directions while holding this embarrassing bag. ” But they ran it up there. Whew. The EKG was a breeze, it took them longer to put the electrodes on than the actual test and it was 10 minutes tops. For some reason the EKG technician and I were talking about the laparoscopy scars (which are minimal) and I said good thing I don’t wear bikinis anyway. Eek,  the world doesn’t need to see my fat ass in a bikini! The Cat Scan was easy. The machine is open like a donut so no closed in feeling. I find humor in EVERYTHING. There was a picture on the Cat Scan machine of two faces. One looked like a smiling face and one looked like it was puking. I HAD to say like a fool: “Why does that picture look like a guy that is going to puke?” The technician was kind to the idiot door. “That means breathe or not breathe when the machine is taking the scan.” AH. But it really looked like a smiley face puking.

The tests weren’t bad. I didn’t eat for 24 hours. The cat scan requires nothing in your stomach for several hours. I could have eaten until 10:00 this morning but I didn’t want to chance anything.  Not eating is worse than giving a kidney… HA HA HA!!! I pigged out at Zingermans after yum! I am now in a food coma.


The Nephrologist, Surgeon, and Social Worker met with me one on one. They were all very nice, spoke frankly and readily answered my questions.  Their focus was on this being OK for me physically and emotionally both short term and long term. I asked the surgeon if they ever have to switch to the open surgery vs. the laparoscopy but this is rare. The actual procedure is about two hours (faster than I thought) but with prep etc. 3-4 hours. Oddly enough, the most common complication is bloating and constipation. As she put it, the colon is the prima donna of the body and it hates to be moved. (They move the colon and and the spleen to get the kidney out) So then colon has to be coaxed back into action but if you keep up your laxatives etc. you will do well. They look at the scans to decide which kidney to take. Usually the left because of the adrenal veins and arteries being longer but sometimes the right.


  • Bring someone with you. even though you aren’t woozy or anything it’s nice to have someone to talk to and in my case, help me navigate. It is comforting. Thanks again Kris!

  • Read as much as you can about donation and the medical tests you are going to have. (See resources below) It really helps to know what the tests are like and why they are conducted. Also, when you talk to the surgeons nurses and others you will know what to ask them.

  • Be proud of yourself even if it doesn’t work out. A lot of people wouldn’t even consider that you are doing.


Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation



  1. WoW! I’m glad that part is over for you. I know you’ll pass. You are a remarkable woman Anne! I am so blessed to have you in my life.

    Comment by jacqsworld — May 12, 2010 @ 10:31 pm |Reply

  2. I am lucky to have YOU. When I told the social worker about you she said “Jackie sounds like a remarkable woman. YEP.

    Comment by anne315 — May 12, 2010 @ 10:39 pm |Reply

  3. Anne you are an incredible friend. And you definitely should be proud of yourself because you are so right a lot of people wouldn’t even consider doing what you are doing for their friends. Jackie is a great person and good friend of mine and she is blessed to have you. Thank you for what you are doing for my dear friend! I hope to one day meet you in person and thank you!

    Comment by Robyn — May 12, 2010 @ 10:47 pm |Reply

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