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Kidney Donation

May 22, 2011

So, this post is a complete departure from what this blog is about.  It’s not related to movies, it’s not related to Gilmore Girls, but it is important about my life and something I needed to talk about and this was a great forum to do that.

I recently made the decision to become a kidney donor.  I don’t know my recipient personally, but I had heard about her through a friend of a friend.  I have always been a big advocate of organ donation.  My uncle would not be here today if someone hadn’t made the decision to be an organ donor and give him the gift of a new heart.  I’ve donated blood mostly whenever I can (with the exception of the times I couldn’t after getting tattoos…oops!), and I’m on the bone marrow donor list as well.  When this opportunity came up, in my opinion, it fell in the same category as all of those other things I’ve been so passionate about.  Many people argue that this is on a much larger scale, and I understand that opinion.  I just don’t necessarily agree with it.

The process began with some simple blood tests.  Then the 24-hour urine test, that I will not detail for you.  After those tests all came back well, I was flown to the hospital where the surgery will take place and did some more tests.  I had, unfortunately been hit by one of the most intensely contagious and violent stomach viruses when I  was at their hospital (all of my friends back home were just as sick as me), so a lot of these tests needed to be redone.  But after a meeting with the doctor, a meeting with a social worker, an MRI, an EKG, an ultrasound, and an exercise stress test, I was found to be a match.

Now came my big decision.  I think that during this entire process, I was fairly certain that there was no way I would be healthy enough to be selected as a match.  So, reality set in when I had to make the major decision to donate or not to donate.

Some criticism I had faced was “What if a family member needs a kidney in the future and you already gave yours away?”  My answer for that question is, hopefully, if no other friends or family members can donate, then some stranger will feel the same way I do about organ donation and be willing to help.  It’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that in my decision to do this, maybe it will inspire others.  If more people were willing to donate, then we wouldn’t have as many people waiting for kidneys for years.  Another popular question I’ve gotten is “What happens if one day you need a kidney?”  While the possibility is always there, my family has no history of kidney problems, and I’m healthy enough to donate one now, so I really don’t foresee that happening.  However, God forbid that happens, again, I hope that if no family or friends can donate, someone will be willing to donate to a stranger.

When it came time to make my decision it was up to several factors.  I had a few people in my life that I had to speak to about it.  And at least 2 people whose opinion was so important that if they said no, I wouldn’t have done it.  My sister supported my decision 100%.  After all, she was right behind in being tested for my recipient.  Her husband, aka the best brother-in-law in the world, was supportive, but nervous.  While I’m still not sure if he totally understands it, I know he loves me and wants me to do what I feel is right.  My boyfriend was another important person for me to talk about.  We’re in a serious relationship and we discuss marriage in the future and having a family.  I was concerned about the possibility that donating would hinder my ability to have children in the future.  I felt this was a very important factor for him to understand and weigh in on.  I spoke with my doctors and did some of my own research and found that as long as I’m completely honest with my OB/GYN when I do decide to become pregnant (MANY years down the road), that I would be safe, and many other women have donated and had children in the future.  With the support of these important people in my life, I made my decision.

My pre-op appointment will be on June 14th and my surgery will be June 23rd.  I will stay where my surgery is for a few days and then come back home for my recovery.  Thankfully, my boyfriend is a teacher and has summers off, so he is able to be with me during the whole process.  I also have a very supportive church family who will be there for me during my recovery.

Organ donation is a very controversial topic and I’ve been kind of quiet about it during this whole process, but I think it’s important for my friends and family to get some insight into why I’m doing this and why I would advocate that anyone follow me.

I’ll be posting more about this as more happens with it, and feel free to ask any questions!  This website is one I referred to fairly often in this process.

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2 comments

  1. I admire your decision so much. I personally can’t donate anything (malaria and have 3 kidneys have kinda put me out of the running) but if I could I would.
    My friend is a CF sufferer and I know what a difference a donated organ can make.
    I can’t wait to hear more about your progress.


  2. Either you counted Jarrod and I as one person or his opinion doesn’t really count. I hope it’s the latter.



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