Posts Tagged ‘organ donor register’
I donated a kidney to someone I did not know. All I knew was that there were thousands of people out there in need a new kidney as their health was really suffering. I had two kidneys – one of them was a spare. Why wait until I am dead, in the hope my organs would still be viable. I wanted to make sure at least one person benefited now.
It is not just the recipient who benefits from a kidney transplant. It is their whole family! What must it be like to be the spouse, parent, child, best friend etc of someone who you know, just watching them day after day ….. praying they get the life saving phone call to say there is a kidney available.
What must it be like for the person knowing they cannot have as much water as needed when thirsty – because their kidneys cannot process it. Even foods with liquid have to be monitored – fruit, vegetables etc. I am no expert on what is required to keep alive when on dialysis. I just know, having spoken to some people who are – it reduced me to tears. I said to one person “I don’t think I could live the life you live, year after year, with such limitations on what you can eat/drink. Spending three days a week travelling/hooked up to dialysis, week after week, year after year. The fact you cannot stray too far away in case that life saving phone call comes”. I felt humbled, and ashamed, when he said “you have no choice – you either want to live or you don’t”!
People ask – why should I donate when the family are not! Very simply, just because they have family, does not mean the family are a match. It is more than just being a compatible blood group. Also a lot of people needing a new kidney is because they have a hereditary illness that causes the kidneys to fail. So family members also can have this. Many reasons why someone, other than family, needs to be the donor.
A question I am sometimes asked is why does someone need a kidney when they have dialysis to replace the kidney?
I have to say I was so guilty of that assumption pre donation!! You see pictures in the media of people on dialysis, and to be honest, so often the person looks very healthy as though dialysis is the perfect solution. I still feel so guilty when I realise how wrong I was. Dialysis is a life support machine. No more, no less. It helps keep people alive until they can get a new kidney. It does NOT replace a kidney, far from it.
So if the thought ever crosses your mind about donating a kidney to someone – anyone – JUST DO IT! It will also be the most rewarding experience you could have.
Read the links on the left of this page under “Become a Donor” to find out what it is like and what the process is. Any questions, just comment on this post or send me a message via the Contact Page – link at top of this page.
I take a personal interest in anyone who wishes to donate and will stay in contact with them, and support them throughout the whole process.
My only regret about donating, is that I have no spare kidneys left to donate. If I had, I would – in a heart beat. I just pray when my time comes to meet my Maker – that my remaining organs are viable and can go to helping other people.
Please sign the organ donor register.
Please consider donating a kidney to someone during your lifetime. Don’t think your age will be against you – people in their 80’s have donated.
To all reading this who are waiting for an organ transplant, or know someone who is – stay strong! Your time will come.
Being a living kidney donor is not for everyone. Hopefully my website will show people what being a live donor is like. After reading the links down the left under “Become a Donor” it will inspire some people to want to be a living donor. If that is the case I would love to hear from you 🙂
BUT – there is nothing stopping most people signing up to the organ donor register. It DOES make a difference. Read this story about a lovely lady who received a kidney when she was 19 years old. 31 years later – yes 31 years – that same kidney is working well.
This is truly an inspiring story
Are you on the Organ Donor Register?
If so – thank you!! So many lives could be saved. What a fabulous legacy to leave behind.
Did you know though, that no matter the fact you have signed the Organ Donor Register, the final word about donating will be with your next of kin and/or family. Although the transplant team has the right to veto next of kin wishes, they generally do not.
So please ….. If you want to save some lives you must tell your next of kin and your family. Make sure they understand how important this is for you. That however upsetting it may seem at the time, they need to agree with your dying wish to save someone else.
I know someone who, after their loved one’s death, refused to allow the organs to be used, even though their loved one had signed the register. It came as a shock to them to find this out. A couple of days later, they bitterly regretted their decision to refuse, but by then it was too late.
So please …. sign the Organ Donor Register AND discuss your wishes with next of kin/family, make it clear this is something you really do want to do.
There is no guarantee that our organs will be able to be used anyway when we die. But at least by signing the Organ Donor Register we have offered. Another reason why I am pleased I decided to donate a kidney while I was alive. At least I know I have helped one person and hopefully after my death I can help many more.
If you do decide you would like to find out more about living donation, then please read the links on the left of this page, under the heading of “become a donor”. Those links should answer many questions about living kidney donation and, who knows, it may even inspire someone to donate.
It is important that anyone considering donating a kidney is aware of the risks involved.
Firstly let me say that altruistic donation (the operation and recovery etc) is no different to someone donating to a loved one. Here are some statistics *.
In the UK between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010:
- 3,709 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,021 donors.
- 978 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas, heart/kidney or liver/kidney/pancreas transplant.
- A total of 2,739 patients’ lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant. 160 of whom received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
- A further 3,099 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
- A record number of 552 non-heartbeating donor kidney transplants took place and accounted for one in five of all kidney transplants.
- Living donor kidney transplants are increasing – 475 in 2004-05, 589 in 2005-06, 690 in 2006-07, 831 in 2007-08, 927 in 2008-09 and 1,038 in 2009-10 – and now represent more than one in three of all kidney transplants.
- Almost a million more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 17,400,213(September 2010).
As you can see from the above, more than 1 in 3 kidney transplants are via living donors. There may only have been a small amount of altruistic donors so far, but the law allowing that only came into force at the end of 2006.
Did you know that a kidney transplant from a deceased person – the kidney has a life expectancy of only around 10 years. A kidney transplant from a Living Donor – the kidney has a life expectancy of around 20 years!
Yes there are risks involved. There are in any operation. What must be pointed out though is the doctors would not allow this operation to take place on any individual if the risks were not minimal. The rigorous tests a donor is put through prior to being accepted as a donor makes sure they are very fit and healthy. It was explained to me that a reaction to the anaesthetic could occur. Something unexpected could occur during the operation itself. This is very unlikely but no operation is without some risk however small. There could be post op complications but again, very minimal and doctors are on top of watching out for any complications. It is also up to the donor that once they leave hospital to make sure they take care of themselves during recovery and seek advice from a doctor should they suspect anything unusual. Regular checks after the operation will ensure kidney function is performing as it should.
Immediately after the operation there is a small risk of chest infection, being a non smoker certainly reduces that risk …. but it can happen after any operation, even though the risks are small. A blood clot could form – again very unlikely. I asked what precautions are taken to prevent blood clots and was told that my bloods ability to clot was tested before hand. That for the operation I would wear these special long socks – anti-embolism stockings (do a google but I am not sure if they are full length ones or below knee ones). Some special calf wraps that gently compress the lower leg to aid blood circulation. I would be given heparin to thin the blood slightly. I would be constantly monitored. More details on the above can be given by any Transplant unit or your doctor.
As for living with only one kidney afterwards that does not present a problem to me. The remaining kidney will slightly enlarge as it takes on some extra work. There is no reason why I can’t go back to a totally normal life afterwards. Very active people have donated and carried on with an active life afterwards just as before. Some people are born with only one kidney but don’t know it. They feel perfectly well with just one. I am no more likely to get kidney disease becuase I only have one kidney. Generally a kidney problem would affect both kidneys, so having one would present no greater risk. Playing a contact sport (boxing, rugby etc) where a blow could occur to a kidney should be avoided if possible or a protective belt worn. I don’t think I am likely to take up one of those sports! …. me = wimp! After the operation the GFR levels do drop slightly then then rise again. There can be slightly less function with one kidney but one has to remember that we have a surplus of available “function” that is never used. So a slight drop in function and the kidney still works just as good as before. There is an extra risk of hypertension occuring later in life but a good and healthy lifestyle is the rule to follow. I had all the risks thoroughly explained to me and I asked many questions relating to them. I also did a lot of research myself as to what complications donors have had. Some have had nerve pain for a while afterwards, digestion problems and other things that with time disappeared. Every answer given was more than acceptable to me as a very lo risk indeed. With only one kidney drinking sufficient amounts of water each day is helpful. If possible NSAID’s should be avoided as they “may” cause a problem for the kidney. Normally with two kidneys not a great problem but when you only have one then perhaps being that little bit more aware of what does or does not go into our bodies should be considered. There can also be a huge emotional surge within us. Some people have told me they got quite bad depression, rather like post natal depression that lasted many weeks. If that happens to you, don’t just take it. Ask for help in dealing with it.
To me there is a greater risk each time I get into my car and go on the road where I am likely to come across drivers with no licenses, drivers under the influence, drivers that are just plain bad drivers. They don’t wear stickers on their cars saying “avoid me”. Yet I choose to take that risk. People who smoke know they are taking a huge risk and putting their health at risk. People who regularly go out and drink excessively…. they know they are damaging their health, yet still do it! People climb huge mountains; jump out of airplanes; take part in extreme sports – they love the adrenaline rush and the challenge, yet know there are risks. They are hailed as amazing people for achieving these things – yes they are – they have far more courage than I do. We all do things, knowing the risks, accepting them – yet the risks involved in donating a kidney to me are far far far less than a lot of those risks.* Statistics taken from here http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/statistics/statistics.jsp
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