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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