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My desire to be a Kidney Donor

in 1967 the headlines were dominated by the first human heart transplant by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.  I was 15 years old at the time and very impressionable (you know, female hormones and all that stuff!).  Chris Barnard became my hero! I remember having crazy thoughts about why we needed 10 fingers (including thumbs of course!) and maybe we could give a couple away to anyone who had lost their fingers and I got carried away in my thoughts of what could be done in the future. Even back then I felt that if I could help someone lead a better quality of life by donating part of me, I would gladly do it.

Kidney transplants have been around for decades. Initially only kidneys from deceased people were used.  Then later Living Kidney Donations were allowed but the donor had to be giving to a named person. Generally to a close relative.

A few years ago I read about a man’s  life that had been saved by his wife donating one of her kidneys.   Since then my ear’s pricked each time there was any news regarding organ donation.   A friend asked me once if I would ever donate a kidney and without hesitation I said “yes”. I saw no reason not to. I had two kidneys, as long as they were both healthy then someone really in need might as well have one of them!

A while back a friend in the USA donated her kidney to a stranger.  Although she had read about him and put herself forward, so in some ways she knew who she was donating to but she  never met him until the actual donation.  I thought this was amazing of her to do and knew that if ever the chance came about that I could help someone regain their life by donating, then I would.

I also read about an amazing  guy called Zell Kravinsky.  A true philanthropist he had given away millions of dollars to needy causes, living only a moderate lifestyle himself.  He also donated one of his kidneys to a needy person.   His reasons for doing this and his general unselfish giving lifestyle attracted a variety of comments about him .  To me he was a truly unselfish, giving, caring person who put other people before himself.   To me he was just an amazingly inspirational guy.  If I had a wish list of people I would like to meet, he would be way up top.

All this just fuelled my desire to help make a change in someones life but in the UK it was not legal to donate to a stranger … at least not then it wasn’t !

Then about a year ago I read about an altruistic donation in the UK, where somone donated their kidney to a total stranger.   I did some research and found the law had been changed and since late 2006 both altruistic and pooled/paired kidney donations were now allowed.  From that moment I knew I had to put myself forward as a potential kidney donor.

It wasn’t quite the right time for me to proceed with this having just been diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes – my sight was quite bad that I had to give up my job and I could not function at home on my own without assistance, so donation was on the back-burner for a while. My grown up son fully supports my decision to donate.   I have never had any kidney problems.  There is no history of kidney problems in the family.  I am sure the doctors would decline my offer of donation if there was even a hint of problems.

The time is now right for me to proceed – cataracts removed and life is settled.  I am as determined as ever to do my best to try and help someone lead a normal life. Being on dialysis is no picnic. Generally people receive dialysis 3 days each week for several hours each time. Their diet and sodium/potassium intake is regulated as is the amount of liquid they can take.  I believe the average time on dialysis prior to a transplant is around 2.5 years. Some people have been on it for years and years.  There are many people who without a kidney transplant would die.

I have two kidneys but can survive very well on only one. Knowing there are people out there desperate to have a kidney.  I do not have a good enough reason not to donate, but plenty of good reasons to donate.  To be honest, knowing that now I can donate I really cannot sit back and deny someone in need the chance of living a normal life.  A while back I did go to add myself to the bone marrow donor list, but I am too old for that now. I felt gutted when I knew I had missed the chance. I can’t donate platelets as they only accept donations from males.  So now I am not going to sit back and wait until I die before I can help someone.

I contacted my doctor who put me in touch with the transplant coordination team. I am now undergoing evaluation.

Please pray that this works out well and that in a few months someone will receive that phone call that will change their life forever.

I hope this journal documenting my evaluation will help people who are considering becoming living donors. Believe me, knowing the change it can make in someone’s life to have a transplant is so rewarding. For them it must be like winning the lottery, only better!

Also did you know that if someone has a kidney transplant and the kidney is from a deceased person … the life of that kidney is around 10 years. After which the recipient needs another transplant and probably goes back on dialysis until then. But … a kidney donated from a Living donor … the life of that kidney can be around 20 years!

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5 Responses to “About”

  • Sharon T:

    I am also in a similar position as yourself and donating a kidney to a stranger. I am much further on with the tests but would like to keep in touch because I find it difficult at times trying to make people understand the reasons why I want to make a difference to someone’s life. It would be nice to share my experiences with someon in a similar situation.

    Regards
    Sharon

  • Diane:

    Hi Sharon,
    Sorry about delay in getting back to you but have had intermittent internet connection.

    I truly believe God has a purpose for us all, and that is to help others. Whether it is helping someone get through the day just by smiling at them or donating a kidney. There are many ways we can help eachother, sometimes we do without even knowing we have.

    I have had a desire to donate for a long time, but it is only recently that the “time” is right for me to do so. The greatest gift for me is to imagine the smile on the face of the person when they receive that phone call .. knowing they will have a chance to lead a normal life. Not just them, but their whole family. That will last me a lifetime. I had my second appointment on 17th and am about to write it up on the Home page. Do keep in contact with me. I have your email address and if you like I can email you direct and we can exchange thoughts. Where abouts do you live? Maybe it is near …

    Di

  • Morgan:

    Good luck with your donation. Hope the rest of your assessments check out. Thank you for posting this blog I have learned a lot about being a kidney donor. I am actually a recipient. I received my kidney four years ago from a deceased person. It is wonderful to know there are people around who care enough about other people that they will offer up one of their organs after death but even more wonderful that they will do it in life. It is interesting to hear what a living donor has to say about the procedure.
    Keeping you in my Prayers – God Bless
    Morgan

  • Elena:

    Good day! My husband needs kidney for transplantation. I can give my kidney, but it is not suitable for him. We want to enter pair exchange programme. Where can I find information about it? Thank you all. Elena

  • Diane:

    Elena, You need to speak with your local Kidney Transplant Team, they can advise you regarding this matter.

    Di

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