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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. 28, 2010
Sure enough, the Sharp Memorial Hospital transplant center found my tests to be encouraging, so it was on to the next test: glucose tolerance. Many people take this for diabetes testing, and although it involves fasting and drinking stuff and waiting around for a few hours in the lab, it's no big deal.
Another week or so waiting for the results (good, of course) and THEN, an ultrasound on the kidneys. This was more interesting because one gets to actually see the kidneys on the screen and get acquainted with these coveted organs. The technician was non-committal, of course, but told me what to look for in a good kidney (even coloring, no blotches, etc.). Then a few more days' wait to get THOSE results. Toni, the transplant coordinator at Sharp, reported I had "beautiful kidneys." Wow, looks like this may really happen...
Over the summer, The New Yorker had an article on organ transplants, mostly kidneys, but the thrust of the article was the buying and selling. Although it was interesting to read about the ethical problems, what interested me most were the pros and cons of the donor and recipient actually knowing each other. I hadn't thought about this aspect, because I was always hoping that William would somehow be involved.
When transplant donors/recipients know each other, even if it's a family member (which it usually is), there is often emotional undercurrents that can affect the relationship: Is X really grateful for my kidney? If there are problems in the recovery of either, is there guilt? Does one side expect a special bond to exist? Does that bond carry obligations? X didn't invite me for Christmas. Or remember my birthday. Or keep up a correspondence. X doesn't appreciate what I did for him/her. Why didn't X name his daughter after me? After all, I gave him/her a new life. On and on.
So I decided that I do not want to know the person who gets my kidney. Unless s/he really wants to meet me. I'd like to know the age, gender, and length of time on dialysis. I would also be interested in knowing if the kidney "takes" and if so, how long it lasts. Someone said, "Well, it will be hard NOT to see your recipient, as they are on the same floor, probably in the next room, walking up and down the same halls." Good point. Well, meeting one another does not mean you have to exchange email addresses or phone numbers. I hope we can keep our distance.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's transplant services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about transplant, visit Transplantation in Adult Health or read the Transplant News archive.