Mike Kueber's Blog

May 19, 2015

Donating a kidney – 2

Filed under: Kidney donation — Mike Kueber @ 12:24 am

A few days ago I blogged about contacting a transplant hospital to donate a kidney. During that initial contact, I was given a brief telephone interview and was sent a specimen bottle for collecting urine for 24 hours.  The specimen had to be refrigerated, so imagine my perverse feeling in going to the refrigerator every time I felt like going to the bathroom. Today, I brought the specimen bottle in to the hospital and had about a dozen blood samples taken.

If not red flags come from the blood or urine, my next step in a couple of weeks is to have a comprehensive 5-hour examination/evaluation.  This will include several medical tests and a psychological one.  And then the transplant would be scheduled.

The news today was mostly bad, but with a silver lining:

  • The silver lining – I was told that most “undirected” donations, like mine, trigger a chain of multiple transplants that are currently precluded because donating relatives/friends don’t match with the recipient.  A 17-link chain that was reported in the local newspaper last year is what prompted me to consider donating, but much smaller chains are more likely.
  • The bad news – 1 – The people in the waiting room were mostly obese, and when I got home, I confirmed that diabetes is the leading cause of chronic kidney failure and being overweight is the leading cause of diabetes.  I guess I would prefer doing this for a younger person struck down by bad luck than for older persons who let their weight get out of control.
  • The bad news – 2 – Kidney surgery is not as simple as I thought it would be.  I thought a kidney was a small organ, but learned it is about the size of a fist.  Thus the incision to remove it is pretty big – 3 to 4 inches – which results in 2 or 3 days in the hospital.  (I was only hospitalized one night to replace my knee!)  And finally, the at-home recovery is 4 to 6 weeks, with no lifting over 10-15 pounds.  Weight-lifting is obviously out; what about cycling and yoga?

Who would have thought that simply retrieving a superfluous organ would be more formidable than replacing a complicated, essential knee?  I’m still leaning toward going forward (guys hate to turn around), but my commitment is a bit shaken.

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