Adventures of a Kidney Donor

June 28, 2011

Another Trip to U of M Hospital

Filed under: Medical — by anne315 @ 10:12 pm
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Today my sis and I went to the University of Michigan hospital. I had to have a repeat of the some of the same tests from May 2010 since it has been so long. I had blood and urine tests, an EKG, and a chest x-ray. Everything is looking good. I was shocked by the number on the scale when they weighed me. Eek, need to try to get that down before surgery. I ALWAYS say that.

The social worker talked to me again. They are very careful at every step to follow protocol to make sure that I am psychologically ready and they keep checking to make sure that I want to proceed. It’s nice that they look out for the donor so much. I am not worried about missing the kidney or anything like that. I am ready!

We also talked about me meeting or not meeting the recipient. When it is an anonymous donation, University of Michigan doesn’t have the donor and recipient meet before surgery. This is a good idea, if things go wrong i.e. rejection etc. the donor doesn’t know while trying to recover. I told the social worker I am fine with whatever the recipient wants to do. The hospital will handle communication between us instead of us communicating directly.  It looks like people usually exchange at least one letter after surgery. I am really fine with just knowing that someone out there in the world is free from dialysis. If meeting is too much for this person, no problem.  In a lot of ways I think it must be so much harder to be on the receiving end than the giving end. Chad the coordinator said the person is excited. Cool! I wonder if they are thinking “I only have a few more weeks of dialysis left.”

A nephrologist talked to me about living with one kidney. It’s pretty much like trying to live a healthy life for anyone, follow a heart healthy diet, exercise etc.  My primary care physician should do kidney function tests every year. One interesting thing he and the social worker both noted was that creatinine levels in people with one kidney may rise but they will still be normal. Sometimes doctors who are not nephrologists don’t understand why the creatinine goes up a little.  My sister and I noted how young the nephrologist looked, I am getting old!

The next step will be another physical about ten days before the surgery. The recipient will be there (we won’t meet) but they are going to match our blood again. I meet with one of the surgeons too. Woo-hoo, getting close.

I am soooo tired. Don’t know why.  I suspect lack of caffeine due to fasting today. Also, with all of the WONDERFUL restaurants in Ann Arbor I managed to pick the WORST Chinese food in town, Bummer! Sorry sis…

Go to Resources on Kidney Donation

August 6, 2010

A Curveball But in a Good Way

So…the story is, when Jackie got her kidney it was from someone who had passed away. The Paired Kidney Donation program we were in involves four living people. Right away we suspected that she had coincidentally gotten to the top of the OTHER donation list she was on. Yes, that is what happened. The most important thing OF COURSE is that she got a kidney and she is doing GREAT! Hurray!

So now on to plan B.  I called my transplant coordinator and he said that it was cool that I stepped up to help but now I wasn’t needed in the paired program with Jackie because she got her kidney a different way. I asked him if I could still donate to help someone. He said that if I wanted to, I could participate in what is called a  “non directed altruistic donor”  program.

If I match someone in the paired exchange database who needs a kidney, I donate to that person. Then the donor that they brought with them to the program (who doesn’t match them)  agrees to donate their kidney to someone else in the database. This creates  an “altruistic donor” chain. University of Michigan has a chain now that will hopefully result in a fifth person being transplanted as a result of one altruistic donor!

Why am I doing this? Some people are trying to talk me out of it. I know they are worried but when you read the facts about the laparoscopic method of the surgery, the normal life span of donors and the great need for kidneys it is an easy decision for me. If I can do for someone what has been done for Jackie, I am ready! It’s a wonderful thing to give someone a whole new life free of dialysis. I still can’t describe how wonderful it is to see Jackie walking around with her new kidney.

I have to go back to University of Michigan to talk to a psychologist. I already talked to the social worker when I was there before so they could make sure that I am not being coerced or paid and that I am psychologically up to this. Since this is a different program, their rules require that I go through that interview again. No problem.

I told Jackie and the social worker months ago that even if I wasn’t giving a kidney to Jackie directly or indirectly (turns out I am not) I would still donate because of the great need. Why should someone die waiting if I can help? Jackie told me I was still part of the process of her getting a kidney, psychologically if not literally. SHE deserves the credit for being so brave and taking on that big surgery on such short notice, but I am glad we are in this together.

Here are some definitions from the National Kidney Foundation:

A NEAD™ chain (Never Ending Altruistic Donor chain) begins with one non-directed (altruistic) potential donor. In this program, the non-directed donor gives to a person waiting for a transplant, and that recipient’s willing—but incompatible—donor gives to another person waiting, and so on. Each living donor in this system gives to a stranger, and the chain of donors is kept going as long as possible.

Non-directed Donors. Someone who donates a kidney to anyone in need of a kidney transplant. Non-directed donors are not related to or known by the recipient, but make their “gift” purely out of altruistic motives.

For more information on altruistic donation go to:

Go here for Resources on Kidney Donation

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