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, 2011

K-Day is Tomorrow!

Filed under: Kidney Donation — by anne315 @ 8:51 am
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After almost a year and a half of yapping in this blog, it is finally go time! The next time I update this blog I will have one kidney and someone will have three. I am a little scared but in the normal range of scared. I am trying to think of it as a long nap and when I wake up I will be missing a kidney. I don’t have any doubts about going through with it.

Today I am enjoying a lovely diet of jello, chicken broth, tea and magnesium citrate. Probably no solid food again until Saturday. Hopefully I will lose a few pounds out of the deal which believe me, I could use.

I called University of Michigan to see what time to arrive tomorrow. My guess is EARLY as in 5:00 or 6:00 am because of course the recipient’s surgery immediately follows mine. I would like to get it rolling ASAP and get it over with.

Of course I am thinking about the recipient. He/she must be so excited! Their last dialysis (for hopefully at least the next 18 years or more) will be today or tomorrow morning. Wow, that is great! My biggest fear about this whole thing is that this person’s body will reject the kidney but I am trying not to dwell on that. Anti-rejection drugs have improved so much that rejection is less frequent than it used to be.

So my journey has come to its most exciting chapter.  It all started as a paired kidney donation for my dear friend Jackie.  She got a kidney in July of 2010 in a different way–hooray! Since there is a great need for kidneys and the surgery is easier than it used to be, I wanted to go ahead and donate anyway. It took awhile to find a recipient but at last one was found.

Kidney donor Sylvia Glaser sums up my feelings:

“People keep wanting to know why, why, why…It sounds very trite but you pass through this world, and what do you ever do that makes a difference?”

Yes! This is exactly it! I won’t make much of a splash in the world but at least I can do this.  I am so happy this person will be free of dialysis. Wish luck to the recipient and me.  Also wish luck to my sis and family who will be taking care of me. Stay tuned to this blog for my surgery and post surgery adventures. Talk to everyone next week!

 Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

July 23, 2011

Yep, I’m Scared

If I sound fearless in these posts I can assure you I am not!  As kidney time gets closer I am starting to feel some anxiety. It hits me at night (Oh my God, they are taking out one of my internal organs!) The other time it hits me is when I get blood drawn. I can’t look when they insert the needle and I think: “How am I going to have surgery when I can’t even look when they take a blood sample???” I have never been in the hospital, never had an IV (until I had kidney tests last year), never had stitches (except for a mole removal)…

I think I will have a few moments of terror as they wheel me down the hallway to the Operating Room. Jackie says you are knocked out before you go into the actual OR so that is good. They also give you a relaxing drug before you are anesthetized. I know there will be pain when I wake up. Several people have told me that they don’t know how much pain medication to give you until you wake up after surgery.  You get a button to press to give yourself pain medication through a pump–but there is a short interval between waking up and getting that going–YOUCH.

Major complications don’t usually happen but they include pneumonia, infection, hernia, bleeding, bowel obstruction, and bowel injury. Adrenal gland problems are rare but sometimes occur.  Some of the adrenal vasculature is altered during a nephrectomy. Usually the other adrenal vessels take over but there have been some documented instances of adrenal problems.

The biggest fear that I have isn’t so much about my pain etc. but thinking that my kidney may be rejected by the recipient. Rejection is less frequent now with the new medications but of course it is still a possibility. What a BUMMER that would be for the recipient and me. Since this is an anonymous donation, if the kidney is rejected right away I won’t know.  I won’t have to recover knowing that it failed.

Having said all of that, I still have no doubts about donating.  It is normal to have some fears before surgery. Dinner with Jackie the other night made me feel even more strongly that this is the right thing for me. She was talking about how her life is so much more free now without dialysis and how wonderful it will be that someone will be free like this after I donate.

My sister has a friend who donated a kidney years ago (via the open method not the laparoscopic method) and she has done very well. She told my sister to tell me her rules of three:  the first three days are rough, the first three weeks you recover, after three months it is like nothing has happened. So in spite of my fears, I know it will all be OK.

 Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

April 21, 2011

Home for a Wayward Kidney?

Filed under: Anne's Ramblings — by anne315 @ 1:32 pm
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Chad called from U of M and is as frustrated as I am about how long this kidney matching business is taking. I had my big tests in May 2010 and entered the altruistic donation program last August after Jackie got her kidney in a different program. He asked if I would be willing to change to a list that isn’t a kidney donation chain, instead I will be matched with a list of people who have been waiting for a kidney for a long time. No chain involved.

Why not?  I am going to do it of course.  At least someone will get a kidney who needs it. It won’t be a “pay it forward” deal but that’s OK. Things should move along more quickly now because they will just match me to one person instead of having to line up a recipient plus another donor to participate in a chain. So…hopefully this Summer I will FINALLY donate.

I saw a news segment this week about a woman who gave a kidney to a stranger and they showed the man being able to swim with his kids for the first time in years. Sniff sniff! Hopefully I can do something like that for someone.

The bigger news is that Jackie is having one (and possibly both if time allows) of her older kidneys removed on Monday. Bummer that she has to experience both the putting IN and taking OUT of kidneys but she has a great attitude.  She wants to do everything she can to ensure the health of her new kidney (which has been with her one year this July.) She will do very well but we are both looking forward to this hurdle being over.

If you don’t know, most kidney recipients have THREE kidneys. The new one is placed in the front and the old ones are left in the body so that the recipient doesn’t have to undergo even more surgery. Usually the old kidneys atrophy and aren’t a problem but if they cause trouble after a transplant they are removed.

So good thoughts to Jackie for Monday!!! My hero!

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

April 9, 2011

Great Advice

Earlier I wrote about Tom Walter and Kevin Jordan. Tom is the Wake Forest University baseball coach who gave a kidney to one of his players, Kevin Jordan.  Tom gives five great tips for kidney donors.

Tom is doing great post surgery! He was back to work after ONE week. He must be in great shape. Kevin has already returned with his teammates to the field and threw out the first pitch in a game. He should be playing baseball this summer.

Here are Tom’s tips:

1 Educate yourself about the process.
The surgery is much less invasive than it used to be, since kidneys are removed laparoscopically in most transplant centers today. As a result, the recovery time is generally much quicker.

2. You can opt out, if necessary.
Understand that at any time during the process if you decide that you cannot go ahead with the donation, it is possible to opt out. Your recipient will be told by the medical professionals that you are not a match. This way, you don’t have to worry about letting the potential recipient down. Some people are scared to volunteer but knowing that it’s possible to opt out at any time if necessary may make them more willing to begin the process.

3. Know that the doctors look out for the donor’s health.
They absolutely will not let you donate unless they are confident that it won’t affect your life or health adversely. Kidney donors are very healthy people. You won’t get to the end of the donation process if there are any concerns about your health. Your team of doctors is dedicated to you and to ensuring that you’re going to live a perfectly normal life post-donation. They are completely separate from the recipient’s doctors.

4. Make sure to take care of yourself.
If you’re thinking about donating, proper diet and exercise are essential. I was in great shape and I watched what I ate beforehand. I think that’s one of the reasons I feel so good post-surgery.

5. Remember that this can be the most rewarding experience of your life.
The simple fact of restoring someone’s health through your donation is an incredible opportunity. I am so glad I did it and know that this act will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

March 14, 2011

Blood is in the Mail!

When I got home on Saturday a box was on my porch. I hadn’t ordered anything so I thought: “Yippee, a birthday present!” It was a birthday present all right, a blood drawing kit for my kidney donation. OK, it wasn’t flowers but I will take it. Hopefully by my next birthday someone out there will be off of dialysis.

Today I had blood drawn for the new donation program I am in. It is with the Alliance for Paired Donation and the University of Toledo Medical Center. This is a bigger pool of recipients so hopefully I can give this kidney away. Who knows, but hopefully it will be late Spring early Summer?

No big deal, but the phlebotomist and I were taken aback by the number of vials in the kit. Yikes! I am used to U of M just wanting a few. U of Toledo needs to keep quite a bit on file to mix with potential recipient’s blood.

Another reminder that the Lansing Kidney Walk is Sunday June 12, 2011  Look for the kidney walks in your area. Come walk or donate to a walker! (Thanks to Kiersten for this info.)

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

February 26, 2011

Will I Ever Get Rid of This Kidney?

Filed under: Anne's Ramblings — by anne315 @ 2:39 pm
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Chad from University of Michigan called and they haven’t found a match for me in the UM database. He suggested that I enter the University of Toledo Medical Center program. UT and U of M are partners in kidney transplantation. UT has been a pioneer in paired and altruistic donation so it sounds good.  UT began the first computer based computer kidney matching and they seem to be reknowned for kidney transplant surgery so I should be in good hands.

I hope the surgery will be at U of M and the partnering just means patients come from Ohio but if it is in Toledo that will be OK. It will be further for my family to drive but it’s not like it is across the country. We are lucky to have two good hospitals so close to us in lower Michigan.

I was beginning to think this was all for naught. I will find out more next week. I started my first tests almost a year ago so let’s get this kidney show on the road!

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

February 9, 2011

Another Great Kidney Donation Story

Filed under: Organ Donation Heroes — by anne315 @ 10:01 pm
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I saw this on the news and just loved this story. From the New York Times:

Wake Forest Baseball Coach Donates Kidney to Player By MIKE TIERNEY Published: February 9, 2011

ATLANTA — When Wake Forest offered him a baseball scholarship, outfielder Kevin Jordan focused his research on what any high school athlete would: the opportunity for playing time.

His father, Keith, had another set of priorities: Who is this coach, Tom Walter? Will he look out for my son?

Keith Jordan dug back to the coach’s previous tenure at the University of New Orleans. He discovered that, even though Hurricane Katrina had left Walter’s home in 12 feet of water, attention to his team’s needs never wavered.

Walter supervised the players’ temporary relocation to the campus of New Mexico State. And he vowed to assist anyone weighing a transfer to another college.

“A lot of coaches wouldn’t have done that,” Jordan said Wednesday.

Far fewer would do what Walter did this week: donate a kidney to a player. Among the many questions Jordan had posed about the coach, one had never occurred to him: Would he part with a vital organ if his son needed it?

“Any player on the team, past or present,” Walter said during a good-news conference at Emory University Hospital, two days after surgeons transferred one of his kidneys into Kevin Jordan.

The coach and the player sat in front of cameras and microphones at a table bedecked with Wake Forest caps — a scene reminiscent of the day last week when football recruits across the nation wore the hats of the colleges they had chosen.

This event was different, distinguished by the white-coated surgeons who flanked the athlete — and by the player’s periodic wincing from the fresh, deep incision in his right side.

“I didn’t ask,” said Jordan, a freshman from Columbus, Ga., who was not a transplant match with family members. “He volunteered. I’m just really thankful.”

Walter’s sacrifice was no surprise to the man who hired him at Wake Forest.

“He loves his players so much, it is unique,” Athletic Director Ron Wellman said by telephone from Winston-Salem, N.C. He, too, had looked into how Walter, 42, treated his players after Katrina. Wellman concluded, “It was remarkable.”

Speaking at Emory on Wednesday, the coach’s mother, Ann Walter, said: “He has a soft spot in his heart for kids. They are like family. He always stuck up for people that didn’t have the advantages he had.”

In high school, Walter sat during lunchtime with a special education student who was picked on by others and threatened to punch anyone who was tempted to be a bully.

Walter said he enjoyed his college days at Georgetown so much that the thought of Jordan sitting in a dorm room tethered at least eight hours daily to a dialysis machine — as Jordan was last semester — was unacceptable.

“It just breaks your heart,” Walter said.

He said that his motivation in donating a kidney was not getting back Jordan as a player, but giving him “just a chance to be a college freshman.”

“I couldn’t believe what he had endured,” Walter said. “It was obvious to me this was the right thing to do from Day 1.”

That day arrived last fall, soon after Jordan, 19, was found to have ANCA vasculitis, a rare kidney disorder resulting from autoimmune swelling. The diagnosis took months to pin down.

Keith Jordan recalled one of many unsettling days at the hospital when his cellphone rang with what would customarily be a joyous call. Given the frightening uncertainty of his son’s health, it barely registered when the Yankees informed him that they had selected his son in the 19th round of the amateur draft.

Kevin Jordan managed to pass all his classes in his first term and practice with the team when he did not have to be on a dialysis machine. His power and speed were noticeably lacking from what Walter had seen during his recruiting trips to Columbus.

In qualifying as a donor match, Walter, a father of a son and a daughter, beat odds of about 7 to 1, according to Dr. Kenneth Newell, who handled the first half of the transplant. Assured that he could resume a normal lifestyle — the original kidney donor in 1954, Newell said Wednesday, lived until last year — and aware that Jordan could languish on a national donor list for up to five years, Walter said he never thought twice about his pledge.

Newell and Dr. Allan Kirk, who operated on Jordan, said that medical advances have increased the success rate of matches and transplants.

A recipient, Kirk said, “receives an extra 10 years of life” over a dialysis patient. “Kevin should live a life that is normal in activity and normal in length,” he said.

Their story has resonated across the country, nowhere more movingly than in Dallas. In 2007, in an action that received widespread publicity, the retired Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls donated a kidney to ex-teammate Ron Springs.

“That was amazing,” an ebullient Walls said by phone Wednesday of Walter’s donation. “Just amazing.”

Walls said he was especially impressed that, unlike he and Springs, Walter and Jordan were members of different age and racial groups.

The transplant raised the inevitable question of whether Wake Forest violated an N.C.A.A. rule by providing an “extra benefit” to an athlete, defined as a special arrangement not made available to other university students. Wake Forest’s Wellman acknowledged that an extra benefit was indeed conferred.

“No doubt about that,” he said. “I dare anyone to challenge this benefit.”

Erik Christianson, director of public and media relations for the N.C.A.A., said: “We wish Coach Walter and Kevin Jordan all the best. This wonderful act of compassion and generosity is truly extraordinary, beyond the scope of any rule.”

Walter said, “We answer to a higher calling on this one.” He said he plans to attend practice this week and to fill out the lineup card at the season opener Feb. 18.

Jordan can expect to pick up a bat in eight weeks for practice swings, Kirk said.

“I’m definitely going to play hard for Coach,” Jordan said. “I can’t say no to him. I’ve got his body part in me.”

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

January 21, 2011

No One Wants My Kidney!

Filed under: Anne's Ramblings — by anne315 @ 4:31 pm
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Not really, it just seems that way. Chad, the coordinator from U of M emailed and the kidney match isn’t a go. I know it’s best to have a good match rather than an iffy one but I am disappointed. There just isn’t anyone in the database for me at this time. Gee, sounds like a dating service! I know it will probably happen eventually.

Right now I feel like I am have been opening up my big yap for nothing. I figure I will wallow in self pity for awhile then get over it. I have no right to complain. The potential recipient has to go back to the drawing board and stay on dialysis longer. Why am I whining?

Go to List of Resources on Kidney Donation

January 20, 2011

Organ Donation: Hope After Tragedy

No news for me yet in 2011. I have a feeling that the last blood tests are not showing a match for the recipient and me. A bummer if this turns out to be the case, but it would be better to have a good match than one that is looking iffy. People will think I have been making this whole thing up! I started my tests in March last year. Chad, the coordinator at U of M told me that this whole process can take a year.

Christina-Taylor Green, the little girl tragically murdered in Tucson, saved another little girl’s life when her organs were donated. I hope it comforts the family. They sound remarkable! They are urging others to consider organ donation. 

It breaks my heart every time I see her beautiful face in the pictures we have seen in the media. She sounded like a wonderful little girl. Her legacy is a speck of hope in a sometimes very sad world.

Consider living donation or donating after you are gone:

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