Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Scoop Re: Kidney Donation

Okay...."scoop" and "kidney" kind of makes a yucky picture in my head, but anyway....

As you probably know, my husband is in need of a kidney transplant and all potential donors in his immediately family (and most in his extended family) have been excluded. Now we must widen our search and pray that one of our friends, extended family, or even a stranger, opens their hearts to the possibility of being his kidney donor.

If you feel led to check out being a kidney donor for Eric the first step is for you to call 918-502-3900 and speak to Kara. She will answer any questions you have, and ask you preliminary questions to make sure that you don't have anything going on that would automatically exclude you. Then she will give you instructions on what to do next if you decide to go forward.

Here are some conditions that would automatically exclude you from donating a kidney:
1. Diabeties
2. BMI above 35
3. High blood pressure
4. Any history of kidney stones or infections
5. History of Substance Abuse
6. Cancer/malignant tumors
7. Gestational Diabetes
8. Smoking (you have to have not smoked in 3 months to start the process)
9. If you are a woman and want to have biological children in the future.

After calling Kara the next step in the process is to go and see your primary care physician. We (I'll say we because I'm getting ready to start this!) tell our PCP that we'd like to be a donor, and the physician has to write a letter giving you clearance to donate. If you're a woman, you must have a pap smear that is newer than 6 months. If you're a woman over 40 you must have a mammogram. If you're a man over 40 you have to have a PSA blood test to check your prostate. Still with me? Yuck!

If your doctor agrees that you are healthy enough to donate the next step is to get your blood type. Actually, if you know your blood type and call the transplant office they can tell you right away if you match Eric (for that part) or not. If you don't know your blood type a free way to get it is to donate blood. Or a blood typing test isn't supposed to be too expensive.

Speaking of expenses...with kidney donation there are very few costs to the donor. Tests that you should have anyway (like a mammogram or pap, etc.) go under your insurance. But tests that you would not otherwise be doing (like a CT of your kidney) is covered by our insurance. The entire cost of the actual transplant is also covered by our insurance. If the donor lives out of state they would need to come to Tulsa two times. The first time would be about a week in order to do a ton of tests and meetings that must be done at the site of the future transplant. The second time would be for the actual transplant.

Speaking of the actual transplant...Recovery time for the donor is longer than for the recipient. Thankfully, 99% of the time they now do everything laproscopically, so there is no huge slicing open your abdomen event! The donor is in the hospital for 2-3 days. The first week can be quite painful. And the full recovery time is 4-6 weeks. There are lifting restrictions during that time, and the first 2-3 weeks the donor isn't allowed to drive. [Yikes! I just thought about how that could complicate things for our family if I'm the donor!] The donor is probably going to be off work for at least 4 weeks (or 6 if the donor has a more strenuous job). Some jobs actually have organ donation benefits where the time you take off work doesn't count against your regular sick or vacation leave.

The actual matching process usually takes from 3-6 months. Then the surgery is scheduled usually 1-2 more months from then.

I want to say again that at ANY point in the matching process you can say you want to stop and Eric and I will not know the difference. Even if I (as his wife) wanted to stop at some point they would tell Eric that I just wasn't a match in order to keep there from being any hard feelings. We will only know you are going through the matching process if you tell us. And honestly we'd probably rather not know in order to completely preserve the relationships we have.

Thank you for your continued prayers.


Rachel 4:25 PM  

Praying for the perfect match, Anita!

Renee 9:56 PM  

Anita and Eric,

We are praying!