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The Transplant Nephrologist has said that both of my kidneys must be removed, due to their enlargement and failing function, so that there would be room for the new one. The timing must be planned so healing can take place, and so there will be a minimum amount of time I that I will be living without kidneys and on dialysis; the shorter the time the better the recovery. The only way to plan such a sequence is by a living donation.
There are two types of living kidney donations that could help me; the direct donation and the paired exchange donation. With direct donation, you generally know me and donate directly to me and no one else. If you are compatible, your kidney can be transplanted directly into me. You must be tested to see how well we match blood types and “pass cross” matches, so that I won’t reject your kidney. If you are an incompatible match, you could still help me get a transplant if you are willing to be partnered in a paired exchange. In a paired exchange, you will donate your kidney to another recipient in exchange for a compatible kidney for me. Often compatible pairs enter into a paired exchange to get a better match donor.
I am often asked why my siblings and sons are not an option. PKD is genetic and I have been told in the past, that a living donation from a sibling or parent could not be done because PKD could be turned on in the new kidney if the genetics are too close of a match. My sons are also not an option, for they have a 50% of having the disease themselves, and I think a couple of them have.
Ideally, the minimum age is over 18 and no older than the early 70s. You as a kidney donor should have a genuine interest in contributing a kidney. Doctors emphasize that no one should be pressured to become a donor. It’s important that you reach the decision on your own, after consulting with family members.
You must be healthy. Even relatively simple things can keep you from donating a kidney, like high blood pressure, diabetes, fibromyalgia, heart disease, liver disease, or hepatitis. You need to have a frank discussion with your doctor about the risks.
Your costs will be covered by my medical insurance, including your donor testing, surgery, and recovery in the hospital. Sorry, it does not cover any wage or salary shortfalls you may experience due to the surgery or recovery. Some employers and some state governments allow for paid leave when you donate a kidney. Check with your employer about the possibilities.
They plan to do Laparoscopic surgery to remove your kidney. It reduces recovery time in the hospital to a few nights, and you will be out of bed and walking independently before discharge from the hospital. There will be no lifelong drugs, only prescriptions for pain and stool softeners for a short time after discharge. You should be able to eat regularly, and return to all regular activities and exercise at approximately 4-6 weeks following surgery. Sexual activity can return to normal when you feel well enough to do so.
Nearly everyone has a spare kidney. It’s a fact that the remaining kidney will grow until its size approaches the combined size of two kidneys. This helps it do all the work that two kidneys would normally do. In other words, one healthy kidney can work as well as two. In general, most people with a single, healthy kidney have few problems and live healthy, normal lives. The only precautions you should take are kidney function tests and blood pressure checks every year. And if you participate in contact sports, you may have to wear additional protective gear to protect the remaining kidney from injury. If you should have problems with your remaining kidney, you are awarded points for your donation landing you on top of the deceased donor list.
For more information, call 866-439-0480, and ask for Megan McClenny in the kidney transplant center or to find out if you’d make a good Kidney Donor, Click here and select the Donor Screening Form.