Now that I’ve been added to the kidney transplant waiting list the hard work begins. Finding a donor. On one hand you can sit around, stay healthy, make sure the transplant center has your current contact information, and just wait. On the other hand, you can try to find a living donor and go through all new sorts of levels of stress.
My immediate family has dwindled to a pair of sisters and a daughter. That would not be a good hand to hold in poker. But all three have expressed interest in donating and that closes the odds. They decided they would go through the donor evaluation process before we would ask if we should look to others. All three are currently in the process but at different stages. Two have been determined to be acceptable matches, one still awaits those results, and none is anywhere near completing the battery of tests donor candidates face.
You remember all the examinations and tests I had to go through? If you don’t, type “kidney transplant” in the site search bar and refresh your memory. We’ll wait. … Ok, ready? Well, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Like mine, their first appointment was a phone interview, a few basic questions designed to screen for obvious exclusions like diabetes, untreated high blood pressure, or various cancers. Also like mine, their first on site appointment meant lots of tubes of blood, a chest x-ray, an EKG, and face to face interviews with a nephrologist, surgeon, nurse, social worker, and transplant coordinator. Unlike mine, theirs also includes a donor advocate who is also a previous donor.
Like my first appointment at the hospital they left with a handful of appointments for follow up tests. Unlike mine, theirs were unlike mine. Where mine were targeted to make certain I could sustain the rigors of the operation and maintain the required follow up to prevent rejection, potential donors are tested to make as certain as possible that they are as healthy as possible and will be able to withstand the rigors of life with a single kidney.
Potential organ donors must be at least 18 and not more than 70 years old. That’s quite a range and obviously an 18 year old is going to be and is going to expect a different level of health than a 70 year old. My potential donors are just shy of 29 and a little over 67 years old. The one in between just turned 56. Three different stages of life, three different batteries of tests. Any single test can exclude the person or become the focus of a follow-up test. Surprisingly the youngest has the biggest list of baseline tests. As she explained it, the reviewing nephrologist said a 48 year old who is healthy today has a pretty good chance of still being healthy in 20 years. He has already passed the age when chronic illnesses would have taken hold even if they aren’t obviously obvious. Being healthy today means less to the 28 year old and how she will be at 68, 58, or even 48 so her testing will be more in depth and her expected results more stringent to mitigate missing sign of problems that might develop in the future.
In all cases they are going to get the best physical they’ve ever received. And if they pass all the physical exams they even get to have a go with a psychiatrist.
That’s just in case you thought you were nuts giving away part of your body.
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