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.