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 “The Choice” with Michael Buerk.

This can now be listened to on BBC iplayer  BBC iplayer The Choice Di Franks

 One to one chat with – Di Franks –  about my choice to altruistically donate a kidney and the consequences of that choice. Produced by Dawn Bryan this series has been aired for several years now and is hugely popular.

 I hope some people will be inspired to consider donating themselves. It is truly a far greater experience than I ever imagined it would be went far beyond the donation itself – and if I could I would donate all over again.

If anyone has any questions about donation, please feel free to either comment on this post or to contact me  via the contact form, link top of page.

Di Franks

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21 Responses to “Featured on Radio 4 “The Choice” – Altruistic Kidney Donation”

  • Miranda:

    Hello Di,
    I saw you on BBC Breakfast a few weeks ago and heard bout giving your kidney to someone you dont know. I kept thinking about it afterwards, couldnt get it out of my brain! I found this blog and guessed it was you. I read up on your experience. the more I read the more I felt I wanted to help someone in the same way. A good friend of mine died from liver failure so I know the importance of organ donation. If you can give a kidney now, then why not. I wanted to say what a wonderful thing to do and if I decided to donate could I contact you and perhaps ask for help if I am confused about anything or just want to chat to someone who has already donated?

    I will listen to the radio programme with great interest.

    Best Wishes
    Miranda

  • Diane:

    Hello Miranda,
    Wow! …. I woke up to your comment and what a wonderful comment to wake up to. I am so delighted you are thinking of donating.

    Of course you can contact me, I would be honoured to be able to assist in any way. You can either post on this blog or if you want to chat one to one, then initially contact me via the contact form (link top of this page) and then we can chat via email, or can even phone. I can also put you in contact with other donors (past and current) so you can feel part of a network if you want. I look forward to hearing from you if you want to be in contact.

    All the very best
    Di
    x

  • jackie:

    Hello Di,
    My brother has end stage renal failure and is currently having dialysis three times a week. He is still able to work and seems quite fit and healthy (on the outside). I started tests to see if I could donate a kidney to him, but then my mother became unwell and I needed to help her for a while. She is fairly stable now and I am considering continuing with the tests soon.

    I am aprehensive about the whole thing and that’s why it would be very helpful for me to hear your interview. I want to help my brother but I do not know anyone or have be able to talk to anyone who has already gone through this.
    I am looking forward to the interview very much.
    Best Regards
    Jackie.

  • Diane:

    Hi Jackie,
    I am so sorry that your brother is in need of a kidney and then your mum being ill. Seems a lot is happening in all your lives at the moment that takes courage, strength and plays on the emotions.

    The interview was about my choice to donate and why and the thought process behind my decision to donate and the effects on family etc. To be honest I spoke about so much a lot has been edited out, so I am not sure how it is going to come over to other people.

    Jackie, you should not have to go through donating or the evaluation or any part of it on your own as far as knowledge and being able to chat to someone.

    I would love to be there for you. If you like we can be in email contact and I can support you and be there for you to chat to all the way. I have helped quite a few poeple to date with supporting them through their donation. I would feel it an honour if you would care to chat to me as and when you felt you would like to. Just drop me a line via the contact page (link at top of this page) and let me have your email and I will always be there for you throughout if you wish.

    All the very best
    Di
    xx

  • Rebecca:

    Di, my mother phoned to tell me about your interview on “The Choice”. That must be very interesting. I am going to pass the details on to my bereavement group, as I am sure some of them will want to hear it. I expect that even the overseas ones will be able to hear it on iPlayer. Isn’t technology wonderful!

  • Diane:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Hope things are going okay with you.

    Well I hope people find the programme interesting. I did 1.5 hours of recording which the producer has to chop down to 30 minutes. It was very exciting being asked to do the programme and the interviews beforehand etc all leading up to the recording. It was great meeting Michael Buerk also who I have admired for many years.

    Keep well,
    All the best
    Di
    x

  • Rebecca:

    It sounds as if it must have been an interesting experience, Di.

  • Rebecca:

    Jackie, if you want, I am happy for you to contact me privately, I would be very happy to give you any information that you would like. Being a directed donor seems a bit different from being an altruistic donor.
    How far did you get with the tests?
    Rebecca

  • jackie:

    Hello Di and Rebecca,

    Thank you both very much for your offers of help, I am very grateful.
    I didn’t get too far with the tests. I had an initial chat with the surgeon and had my weight and BP cheked. I then had to have a substance injected into my blood steam which checked blood my circulation, I am not sure exactly what the tests where called, this was around six months ago. I am just waiting for the right time to contact the team to start the tests again. My mum has just moved house and I need to make sure she is settling down before I can commit.
    I’m glad to be able to chat with someone about this though :-)

    Jackie xx

  • Diane:

    Hi Jackie,
    Anytime … always here to help
    Di
    xx

  • Rebecca:

    After six months, you will probably need to start the tests again, as things do change, particularly as the hospital will regularly need to check compatibility between you and your recipient. The tests do take quite a lot of time (or at least did in my case) so be prepared for that. And be prepared to give lots of blood!
    Feel free to ask any questions
    Rebecca

  • Diane:

    Just a thought Jackie, but which hospital will you be donating at? It might be I have names of donors who have donated at the same hospital and can ask them if they didn’t mind if you contacted them. Then if you like you will be able to exchange views on the hospital and staff and waiting times and whatever else. Let me know if that would be of interest.
    All the best
    Di
    xx

  • jackie:

    If all goes well I will be donating at Belfast City Hospital. My brother lives in Northern Ireland but I live in Scotland near Edinburgh. That’s another problem too, the distance. Not sure how long it would be before I could travel back home again.

    Jackie xx

  • Diane:

    Hi Jackie,
    Nope, sorry. Noone I know from Belfast Hospital. I know three from Edinburgh area but not N.I.

    Let us know how you get on when you are ready to take up the evaluation again.

    All the best
    Di
    xx

  • Lisa Burton:

    Hello Di – I have been reading everyone’s comments with interest. I gave one of my kidneys in December 09 as part of London’s first 3 way kidney donor pooling. I thought people might like to know how rewarding doing something like this is. Although my kidney didn’t actually go to my brother, he benefited greatly from the exchange with a kidney that was as near a perfect match as possible (which mine wasn’t) so it didn’t really matter that he didn’t receive mine. The medical teams involved are amazing and make you feel as though you are the most important person in the hospital – can’t praise them enough! I would be happy to talk to anyone who is thinking about doing this if it would help. Lisa x

  • Diane:

    Lisa,
    Thanks for posting about your donation. It is great when kidneys can be pooled as more people benefit. Must have been great to be a part of that.
    Di
    x

  • Rebecca:

    Hello Di
    How do you feel that the radio programme went? Have you had much feedback yet? I hope you were pleased with how it was presented.
    Rebecca

  • Diane:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Considering the time constraints, yes it went well and I have had a lot of positive feedback. If it can inspire one person to put themselves forward to donate, that will be wonderful.
    Di
    x

  • James:

    Hello Di,
    I just listened to the iplayer for The Choice and your kidney donation. What an ambassador you are for living donation. Very moving listening to you. You seem very excited by the whole process you went through as MB suggested. What advice would you give anyone who wanted to donate altruistically like you did. Anything you wish you knew about either before you went ahead or that you found out afterwards? I am donating to my brother next week. I still cannot get my head around someone donating to a complete stranger. Was there anything that would have made you not donate.
    Well done Di, I hope lots of people listened to the programme well worth hearing it.

  • Diane:

    Hi James,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment and thank you for your comments re The Choice. It was quite emotional at times making the programme I have to admit.

    The whole idea of living kidney donation does excite me. I remember so clearly back in the 1960’s when the headlines around the world were full of Dr. Christiaan Barnard who had performed the very first heart transplant on a human being. I was an impressionable teenager back then, and the whole idea of transplanting organs was something I found very exciting. Even now I find it hard to believe that living people can give up an organ and not only can it give someone another chance at a normal life but the donor can lead a perfectly normal life also. Heck I am getting all excited just typing about it. The scientists, doctors and everyone involved in making this process possible deserve so much recognition, yet we hear so very little about them.

    What advice would I give anyone who wanted to donate? Gosh … I would say really make sure this is something you not only really do want to do but something that you should do. The two do not always go together.

    1. Your heart may tell you that this is something you so want to do, but make sure your brain agrees.

    2. I would also say have patience. When you start the evaluation process the wheels turn slowly, sometimes very slowly, but they do turn.

    3. Ask questions. Just because you read something on the internet, or a friend told you something about donating, don’t take the answers as the full picture. Ask your donor co-ordinator or the consultant or someone on the Live Donor Team. Even info you read on my blog, get it confirmed with your own donor team.

    4. Don’t be put off by people who may try to persuade you out of it. One of the reasons I did not tell any friends or family (apart from immediate family) was that a) it was none of their business, but also I did not want to be made to feel guilty if they did not approve. On the other hand, if you do tell close friends/family – listen to what they have to say as someone may just say something you had not considered before and it may just be important.

    5. For me a major concern was how I would cope emotionally with the process and any negative aspects. It is worth thinking through various scenarios and working out how they might affect you and how you would cope with them.

    6. If you have children at home, ask yourself the question – do you really have to donate now? Or can you wait until your children are independant of you. There will always be someone out there wanting a kidney. The risks may be low donating a kidney but there are still risks. Think of the scenario should you become one of the statistics.

    Not sure how much that helps anyone, but they were considerations that were important to me in my decision to donate.

    Your next question is whether there was anything I wish I knew about before donating or found out afterwards.

    Well … I wish I had known just how long the whole process would have taken. It took a lot longer than I was told. Though in fairness to the donor team, they were not really able to set exact dates on this. But during the process when it should have been clear to them that the process would take much longer, I wish I had known that, as I would have organised my own life a lot differently. But apart from that nothing springs to mind.

    Was there anything that would have made me not donate.

    If I still had children at home I would not have donated. There would have been plenty of years ahead to have donated once the fledgling had … fledged! Had I found out about a risk that was too high, I would not have donated. For example, I believe the risk of death from donating a lobe of your liver is 1:200 – to me that risk is too high when considering donating to a stranger. Close family and serious consideration would be given. So if that was the same for kidney donation, I would not have donated. Having said that, you cannot donate lobe of liver to a stranger (you can in USA) in this country, you can only donate to family, and I would imagine we cannot in the UK because the risks are considered to be too high ??? A donor must always come before the recipient. And of course, had my son not wanted me to donate I would not have. Although he is 31 years old, he is still my son and I believed he had a right to take part in the decision making of whether I donated or not. His objections would have had to be valid ones. I am not sure if there would have been anything else. Until something presents itself to you, not always easy to think of potential problems!

    But you know James, to me you have a much harder time donating than me. Donating to a stranger does not involve the emotions that donating to someone close would. To me it is so much harder to donate to someone close because you must keep worrying that you would be suitable. I am sure I would be stressing the whole time wondering if the team will turn around at some point and say I can’t donate. Then of course the worry when you do actually donate ….. I don’t know, I just feel donating to a stranger is a less stressful route.

    I wish you the very best of luck next week. My prayer are with you both.
    Di
    xx

  • Diane:

    James (known as Jimmy) wanted me to post this on his behalf. He is using a strange browser and there are no “comment” links to post. So he sent this through the contact page.

    I quote directly from his contact with me:
    quote
    I was not expecting such a lengthy response. Thank you very much. I still do not think I would donate to a stranger. Not that I am against it. I have nothing inside me saying I want to. I need that emotional tie you talk about which I have with my brother.

    Thank you for this blog. I learned a lot about what to expect even though some aspects were different as I was donating to my brother. Your blog also gave me questions to ask which I would not have thought of.

    I will be in touch.

    Jimmy
    unquote

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