Adventures of a Kidney Donor

August 12, 2016

My Five Year Anniversary!

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 12:22 pm
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kidney cakeI can’t believe it. It has been five years since my former kidney went to its new recipient at the University of Michigan hospital. I think of the recipient all of the time and hope he is doing well. I always wonder if he has a party today. Sure hope so! Here is what I posted at the time:

August 2011

Please register to be a donor!

Join the Michigan Registry or Join the Registry in your state.

 

August 11, 2014

Three Years in the One Kidney Club

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 8:33 pm
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kidneycakepops12Happy 3rd anniversary to the recipient and me!  August 12 marks three years since the kidney I used to have went to someone else out there.  I celebrated with my good friend Jackie and her husband Doug and my godson Justin. They took me out for dim sum and Jackie even made me a cake!

I always think of the recipient on this day and hope he is having a great dialysis free life and doing the things he has always wanted to do. Maybe he has a party or just enjoys another day dialysis free.

So many lives are touched by kidney disease and donation. I have several kidney heroes in my life. My dear friend Jackie of course. Three people who work with me:  Kiersten received a kidney from her friend Theresa, Larissa gave a kidney to her father, and Jon’s daughter Bridget received a kidney from her mom Amy.

I hear from people all over the world who have donated a kidney or are waiting for a kidney. I am grateful if this blog helps them in a small way. For those waiting, never give up hope!

What can you do for those waiting? My best anniversary present would be that everyone reading this sign up to be an organ donor if they haven’t done so already. Make sure your family and friends are registered. You CAN make a difference!

Join the Michigan Registry or Join the Registry in your state.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

October 5, 2013

Michigan Libraries for Life

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 9:40 am
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mich lib for lifeFor the second time, my library is participating in Michigan Libraries for Life.  The aim is to educate patrons about organ, tissue, and eye donation and to actually help people sign on to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.   Since 2010 this effort has expanded to include public, academic, special, and hospital libraries across the state. From Monday October 7 to Sunday October 13 you can come to participating Michigan libraries to learn more or to sign up with the Registry.  It only takes a few minutes but the impact is enormous!

Bridget and Amy2

Bridget received the gift of life from her Mom Amy

About 3,000 people in Michigan are waiting for a transplant and new hope for life.  Probably someone you know has been or will be impacted by the need for an organ. Here are some of the organ donation stories just from our library employees alone:

• Jon from Information Technology: Jon’s young daughter Bridget was diagnosed recently with the extremely rare chronic kidney disorder Nephronophthisis which damaged both of her kidneys. Fortunately, Bridget didn’t have to go on the waiting list because her mom Amy gave her the gift of life this past summer, donating one of her kidneys to Bridget. A precious gift from mother to daughter!

Larissa from Circulation gave the gift of life to her father two years ago when he developed kidney disease.  She said: “I found out he would have to wait four years to receive a cadaver kidney. Dialysis is very hard on the body, plus it was heartbreaking to see his quality of life decline. So when he went into complete renal failure, I called my parents and offered mine.”

Kiersten and her 10th anniversary kidney cake!
Kiersten and her 10th anniversary kidney cake!

 Kiersten from Circulation was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease several years ago and had started dialysis when her best friend Theresa stepped up to give her the gift of life. This year they celebrated the tenth anniversary of the donation. When Theresa found out she was a match for her friend she had only one thing to say at the time: “Let’s do this!”

  • Wendy from Public Services: “My sister in law needed a kidney last year due to kidney failure and diabetes. Her husband was a perfect match! So the whole family journeyed to Ann Arbor the day of surgery. Took his kidney out and put it in her and she is doing great now… A happy turn out for this family!”
  • Cheryl, Community Library Head:  “At the eleventh hour a close family friend with Cystic Fibrosis received a lung transplant that truly saved her life.  At 46 years of age she has beaten the odds for this disease, in thanks to this transplant.  She is now an avid runner and is a beautiful, brave and strong woman who is forever grateful to her donor.”

Dallas from Public Services: “My mother had a heart transplant at Ann Arbor.  She received the heart of a young man who had died in a car accident.  At the time of surgery, we were told she would live about five more years.  Considering that she was on oxygen and getting weaker every day, this was great news. I remember sitting in the waiting room and watching a team of workers go through with a cooler that held the heart.  Mom’s life quality was pretty bad after the surgery, but I know all of us were thankful for the extra time we had with her.  She was the oldest recipient of a heart at that time…I guess the most amazing part of this is that she lived for fifteen years with a transplanted heart! Whenever I think of the man who gave my mother her extra years, I am thankful.  Every person in our family is a donor!!”

Join the Michigan Registry or Join the Registry in your state.


August 12, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 11:16 am
Tags: ,

2-cakeHappy 2nd anniversary to the recipient and me. Today marks two years since the kidney I used to have went to someone else out there. I don’t say “my” kidney anymore, I say “the” kidney since it is now his. I am glad it is his too!  Hope he is having a great dialysis free life and doing things he always wanted to do.

So many lives are touched by kidney disease and donation. I have several kidney heroes in my life. My dear friend Jackie of course. Three people who work with me:  Kiersten received a kidney from her friend Theresa, Larissa gave a kidney to her father, and Jon’s daughter Bridget received a kidney from her mom Amy.

I hear from people all over the world who have donated a kidney or are waiting for a kidney. I am grateful if this blog helps them in a small way. For those waiting, never give up hope!

What can you do for those waiting? My best anniversary present would be that everyone reading this sign up to be an organ donor if they haven’t done so already. Make sure your family and friends are registered. You CAN make a difference!

Join the Michigan Registry or Join the Registry in your state.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

August 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Both of Us!

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 9:40 pm
Tags: ,

Happy anniversary to the recipient and me. Sunday August 12 marks one year since the kidney I used to have went to someone else out there. I don’t say “my” kidney anymore, I say “the” kidney since it is now his. I am glad it is his too! See  The Kidney, My Kidney. Hope he is having some delicious cake or celebrating a year free of dialysis in some way. I want to blow Weight Watchers points out of the water and devour cake myself. I think of him often, that unknown someone out there. I picture a more active and free life for him. Very cool.

Kidney Cake Pops

My colleague Mari pointed out this article about altruistic/non-directed donors.  “U.S. Woman’s Altruism Starts Chain of Five Kidney Swaps, Extending Lives.” It’s great news that this type of donation is on the rise. We still have a long way to go, but each year seems to be getting better.  From the article:

Donor Honica Brittman decided to be part of a kidney swap after learning she could not donate to a family friend because of incompatibility, represents what experts say is a critical and growing number of “altruistic” or “non-directed” donors, people willing to donate to anyone in need as long as their blood type, antigens and other factors are compatible.

While there is no conclusive national data on the number of donors like Brittman, experts estimate they have increased to between 100 and 200 a year, up from just dozens a few years ago. “After every chain that gets some publicity, there’s a flood of potential donors contacting kidney exchange networks and individual transplant centers,” Alvin Roth, an economics professor at the Harvard Business School said.

The year has gone by quickly! All of my medical checks are coming back normal. Aside from the small scars, I can’t even tell I had surgery.  So happy anniversary to us and here’s to all of the donors and recipients out there! Back to the cake. I have cake on the brain because of stupid bloody Weight Watchers and their Nazi Points Plus system.  Hmmm… not so sure about the kidney cake pops…

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

May 12, 2012

The Organ Donor Experience

Recently I read a great book for organ donors: The Organ Donor Experience: Good Samaritans and the Meaning of Altruism by Katrina A. Bramstedt and Rena Down. The book focuses on altruistic donation between strangers rather than friend and family donations. It covers all kinds of organ donations and discusses the entire process from evaluation beforehand to life after donation.

It cites scholarly research to back up its information but isn’t dry. What I found most interesting were the testimonials from the organ donors themselves. It’s great to see research and writing on this issue, since there isn’t a lot out there on altruistic donation. Although my kidney went to someone I don’t know and was technically altruistic, I think of my donation as more like the family/friend kind, since my first motivation was to get a kidney for a friend. I am doubly lucky because my friend Jackie is free from dialysis and so is the recipient of my kidney–I hope.

Dr. Katrina A. Bramstedt is a noted medical ethicist associated with California Transplant Donor Network in Oakland, California. Rena Down is an Emmy-award winning writer for theatre and television and is the recipient of a kidney from a stranger.

The kidney walks are coming in June! Please give to one of my friends: Freda’s kids and/or Hedke’s Haulers or participate in a walk in your area.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

April 28, 2012

Recycled Organs!

Erwin, Ray and Cera, Courtesy: Northwestern Memorial Hospital

In 2011 Cera Fearing donated a kidney to her brother Ray, who has focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.  FSGS causes scar tissue to form on kidneys. Shortly after the surgery, it became clear that the kidney would have to be removed because the FSGS was damaging it and the transplant was actually making Ray more ill.  Lorenzo Gallon, Ray’s doctor, realized that the kidney could still be viable in another person.  He asked Ray how he would feel about it going to someone else. Ray didn’t hesitate, and the kidney went to Dr. Erwin Gomez, where it is now thriving.  Amazing!

I couldn’t believe this story when I heard it. It’s wonderful that organs can sometimes be saved after being rejected and actually be transplanted into someone else. A friend of mine has a brother-in-law who donated an organ to his brother, only to have it rejected.  What heartbreak. Even just a few years ago all was lost when something like this happened. This story shows us that there is hope even for rejected organs.

How cool when a recipient becomes a donor! Cera, Ray, Lorenzo and Erwin are ALL heroes in my book! I sure hope Ray gets another kidney soon. He is back on dialysis waiting.  Ray and Cera, you are generous beyond words.

Read the MSNBC article

Read the CNN article

The kidney walks are coming soon. Please give to one or participate in a walk in your area.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

December 15, 2011

Happy Holidays to All of the Organ Donors and Recipients!

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 3:57 pm
Tags: ,

As the holidays approach, I am thinking about the person who received my kidney and how this is probably his first holiday without dialysis in awhile. Very cool.  I hope he enjoys the holidays and has great health.

Some good news this season, Michigan’s dismal ranking in organ donation is finally improving. Michigan’s organ donor numbers took a dramatic leap in November, with a 56 percent increase over November 2010. Hooray!  The article about this quotes Tim Davidson, of Highland, who last month celebrated the third anniversary of his liver transplant:

“It’s exciting to know that more people will have an opportunity to get a second chance at life like I did. Joining the donor registry is an ultimate, random act of kindness. You don’t know who may benefit from your gift, but you do it. I think of it as unconditional love for your fellow man.”

Couldn’t say it better myself! In this season of giving, think about signing up to donate your organs and encourage friends and family to do so. Let’s make the Michigan 2012 stats even better!

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

November 6, 2011

Three Month Anniversary

Filed under: Kidney Donation,Medical,Psychology — by anne315 @ 6:24 pm
Tags: ,

This Friday is the twelve week anniversary of my surgery. Hard to believe! A lot of things I have read say that at twelve weeks you feel like nothing ever happened, at least physically. Right now I would say I am pretty much back to pre-surgery level, although I still have a little pain at my incision site at the end of the day.  Nothing major, but I still feel it a little.

After blathering on about it for so long it seems like the surgery and recovery was over in a flash. I am so glad I did it. I think about the recipient from time to time and imagine that he is getting on with his life too. I hope he is free to do a lot of things that he couldn’t do before.

One of my co-workers just gave a kidney to her dad, so the precious gifts of life keep going.  You can give the gift of life too.  Even if living donation isn’t for you, register to be an organ donor and urge your friends and family to register. Go to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry or the donor registry for your state.  As the saying goes, “Don’t take your organs to heaven, heaven knows we need them here.”

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

September 24, 2011

Woman Fired After Kidney Donation!!!

Claudia RendonI can’t tell you how upset this makes me!!!!! One of the most cruel things I have ever heard. Claudia Rendon was fired from her job after giving her son a life saving kidney donation. She was NOT protected by FMLA because companies with under 50 employees do not have to adhere to FMLA rules.  Another story here.

I am seething. Who in the hell would donate an organ just to get out of work??? Seriously, what is the thought behind this firing? We have a huge shortage of donors and people die every day waiting. &*%$ like this only makes this problem WORSE. UGH.

Claudia is back on salary for now, and when a position opens up she can apply for it. Gee, how nice of her company. I am sure they didn’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts, but no doubt due to backlash they received. I sure hope no one in the company (or someone in their family) who made that crappy decision ever needs a transplant. If that happens they will find out first hand the double cruelty of illness and no support.

This story brings out a lot of issues. FMLA needs to apply to ALL employees, not just those in larger companies. Some kind of funding needs to be organized to reimburse smaller companies if putting employees on organ donation leave puts them in financial hardship. And, where is plain COMPASSION? Sometimes I despair of our society today.  Recently Tea partiers applauded when it was suggested that people without health insurance should just die. I am so appalled. When did we take this awful turn??

If something like this happens to you as a donor or recipient or someone you know, FIGHT BACK. Contact your coordinators at your hospital who will be an advocate for you with an employer. Contact the national organizations such as the National Kidney Foundation, Gift of Life etc. Get as much publicity as you can in the media.

Check with your state to see if there are laws that help employees with paid leave for donation or that protect your position while you are off. If you are a federal employee and a donor there are federal laws that cover you.


Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

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