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From the Guardian by an anonymous donor.

“Why I donated one of my kidneys to a stranger – it wasn’t a difficult choice”

Non-directed altruistic kidney donation. An unlovely term that means giving one of your kidneys to a stranger. I’d always known this was a thing but I’d thought it was a bit weird, a bit excessive, like donating an arm. Why not just stick to blood donation?

I’d last come across the idea in Larissa MacFarquhar’s 2015 book Strangers Drowning which had the alarming subtitle “Voyages to the Brink of Moral Extremity”. It’s about ultra do-gooders who make normal people feel uncomfortable or worse. Which may be part of why they do it.

MacFarquhar’s subjects include people whose sense of the world’s suffering leads them to give all their possessions away, live like vagrants, move to impossibly dangerous parts of the world. The help they provide for the poor seems questionable, but there is no doubt about the harm they do to themselves and those around them. Among these extremists are altruistic kidney donors. Many people, she says, “particularly doctors” (she’s writing about US doctors) find this donation “bizarre even repellent”. The brink of moral extremity did not sound like a place I wanted to go.

In October of last year I was in the car with my wife and we were listening to a podcast in which a speaker used kidney donation as an example of a contract that can’t be enforced. Almost irrelevantly he said people’s queasiness about the subject isn’t really rational: we don’t need two kidneys, the operation is safe and the benefit to the recipient huge. I immediately thought: if that’s true, it sounds like a good idea.
Would you give your kidney to a complete stranger?

Read more here —-
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/20/why-i-decided-to-donate-one-of-my-kidneys-to-a-stranger

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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.

 

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So far since altruistic donations started over 250 donations have been made. That is amazing.

In the UK between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013:

  • 4,212 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,313 donors.
  • 1,160 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney or liver/pancreas transplant.
  • 3,052 patients’ lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant, 166 of whom received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A further 3,697 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
  • A record number of 749 kidney transplants from donors after circulatory death took place and accounted for one in four of all kidney transplants.
  • 1,068 living donor kidney transplants were carried out accounting for more than a third of all kidney transplants. ‘Non-directed’ living donor transplants (also known as altruistic donor transplants) and paired and pooled donations contributed more than 130 kidney transplants between them.
  • Almost 1,012,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 19,532,806 (March 2013).

 

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Transplants save lives

[as at November 2011 there had been 88 altruistic donors with the oldest being 82 years old and youngest 25 years old]

In the UK between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011:

  • 3,740 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,055 donors.
  • 1,008 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney, liver/pancreas or heart/kidney transplant.
  • 2,732 patients’ lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant, 156 of whom received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
  • A further 3,564 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
  • A record number of 567 non-heartbeating donor kidney transplants took place and accounted for one in five of all kidney transplants.
  • 1,045 living donor kidney transplants were carried out accounting for more than a third of all kidney transplants. ‘Non-directed’ living donor transplants (also known as altruistic donor transplants) and paired and pooled donations contributed more than 60 kidney transplants between them.
  • Almost 675,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 17,751,795 (March 2011).

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