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In January 2010, Kay decided to donate a kidney and began a life-changing journey. She chronicled her experience in detailed journals, which she is now sharing here.
Jan. 22, 2010
I have just received word that I qualify as a kidney donor. My purpose in starting this blog is to show any reader that this is first of all, a rewarding event, and secondly, not a difficult one, SO FAR. My surgery will be done in about six weeks, in March 2010.
My plan is to tell the story of how I got here, and hopefully inspire others to consider donating a kidney to a friend or relative, or, like me, to some yet undesignated person. My incredulous friends and family want to know how the notion to donate a kidney to a stranger came into my head. My first response to "Why?" is "Because I can." But that's a little simplistic. Everyone has heard of organ donations, and many of us have our driver's licenses marked as organ donors upon our deaths. Or have a notation in our medical directives.
And all of us are vaguely aware of the kidney statistics. October 2009, L.A. Times: 82,000 people across the U.S. on waiting lists; 16,000 of them in California. The waiting time for a transplant can be up to five years. Thousands die every year waiting for a kidney. In 2007, about 16,600 kidney transplantations were performed. A definite kidney gap.
It's important to know that we have two of those kidneys, and can live quite well with one. Thus the concept of a live donor and the first live donor transplant in 1954 in Boston. Also, a kidney from a living donor has a much greater chance of success than one from a cadaver.
Back to the personal motivation. Several years ago, a friend, let's call her "Sal", suffered kidney failure and went on dialysis. I wondered about her future, and finally asked her if she was on a donor list. She stated she was not a candidate, because her immune system was too weak. Still, she got me thinking: couldn't I donate to someone?
Then I became aware of the son of some friends, let's call him "William." He had a kidney transplant at the age of five. He's now about 30 and needs a new one. No, they don't last forever. William will be my target.
Internet research taught me about tissue matching, blood types and other matching issues. The National Kidney Registry has lots of information for donors and for recipients. Some general requirements for being a donor include being in good health, maintaining a reasonable weight and blood pressure, non-smoker, not a diabetic, and so on.
Many of us have read about recent "donor chains" in which donors whose tissues don't match with a loved one will instead donate to someone else, whose donor will donate to your loved one, or another's loved one, and on and on. Some hospitals have reported over 25 transplants in a chain across the U.S. over a period of months!
Sooooo, since I can't help out anyone by going to Haiti, or Somalia, or Afghanistan, why not do something significant right here near home???? Why not give it a try?
Find a San Diego Kidney Transplant Surgeon
To find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego kidney transplant surgeon or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday 8 am to 6 pm.