Lisa promises to catch up on blogging soon – some lame excuse like both twins having diarrhea – that really should be an outlawed subject in a blog. (see – don’t like body fluids!) Last time I shared the why, and you can now read “about Lisa” to find out more about why she’s in kidney failure. There are decision points all through the donor process, and I have to say that just choosing to be cross-matched as a possible donor was one of the hardest. Some things one has to consider:
- Impact on health
- Impact on lifestyle
- What will your family/friends think about it? Will they support the decision?
- What happens with dependents
- Will there be any impact on finances or career (it’s illegal to sell body parts in the U.S. in care you are interested.)
So, once I even started thinking about donating, I started doing research. Looking for things like: living with one kidney, the donor evaluation process, expectations post-surgery, etc. Information is all over the place – transplant center information seems purposely vague, blogs or home-built websites don’t have scientific/medical review so you need to ask a bunch of questions. But once I did some fairly basic searches and learned that people with one kidney live just as long as someone with two provided they maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure – I felt ready to be tested. The testing process is fairly straight-foward, you contact a living donor coordinator at the center the recipient is working with – they send you a long health questionnare for preliminary screening and if you are deemed appropriate, you’ll get a testing kit in the mail. You take that to a lab, have your blood drawn and get your blood to the transplant center (for me – that was via fed-ex). It takes a few days. However, and I can’t remember exactly what happened – but sometime that week of my draw I spoke to the donor coordinator or Lisa did and was told it was unlikely I was a match. Lisa would surely reject. I have to admit being bummed. Thinking maybe I should consider a paired donation, or some other way to help. But then 2 days letter – get an IM from Lisa – call Vonnie (the coordinator) you’re a match. Craziness! The center was quite certain I WOULDN”T match, but I did. So -on to evaluation. Quick and dirty story on evaluation is that you have to have a bunch of blood tests, pee in a jug for 24 hours x2, depending on gender you need to have age appropriate cancer screening (for me a mammogram), a history and physical – fun fun fun. Goal – make sure the donor is healthy enough to donate, that one kidney will be sufficient, and that there is no hidden disease. At this point, while all my tests looked really good – even if I wasn’t eventually approved to donate to Lisa – I’d know I’m darn healthy! Next step is the transplant team meets to determine approval for surgery. Uh oh! Things get pretty real at this point – and there’s typically a week lag for more thinking. I think this was when I finally told my family…..