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Kidney Donation - A Journal


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#1 KeepCoolNY

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:04 PM


For many months now, I have been letting the idea of donating a kidney sink in and building up the courage to do so. Over the past few weeks I have begun the long process of donating a kidney.

I hope to use this topic as a journal of the experience. I think it will help me, keep me on track, and if it's as easy and fulfilling as I think it will be, it may encourage others to donate as well.

The story begins more than four years ago when I was dating my wife and we went to donate blood on one of our dates. I had never donated blood before and found it really easy. I have good veins (making for a quick and easy insertion) I didn’t feel faint or week after donating blood. Our date helped save lives and it cost us nothing. No training, no money and very little time.

Since then we have donated platelets and blood on more than one occasion and I discovered that since I have O negative blood I am a universal donor, my blood is in demand!

A few years ago Shira wanted to donate a kidney. While I didn’t think I would want to donate mine, ever, I admired her for wanting to give so selflessly, and undergo major surgery for a complete stranger. I went with her to the orientations and presentations at the hospital, listened to the process and the risks, and in general tried to play the role of supportive husband.

During this time I could not understand why some family members were trying to discourage Shira from donating. While I didn’t want to donate myself, I couldn’t understand why someone would discourage a family member from doing something that, while a risk to the donor, will undoubtedly make a huge positive impact on the recipient’s life. Nobody should ever donate under pressure but nobody should be pressured not to donate either.

Fast forward a few years, after Shira was advised by the transplant team not to donate for medical reasons, I began considering it in earnest. I had been reading a lot about the controversy and arguments over organ donation after death and how death is defined and all that and it got me thinking, I can make a live donation. Just like I donate blood or platelets to help save lives, I can donate one of my two kidneys.

I started talking to people I knew who have received or donated kidneys. One acquaintance had donated one of his kidneys to his brother, another to a stranger. Their stories were very different. One spoke of pain and one referred to it as discomfort. One did it out of a sense of duty to his brother; the other, like me, simply graduated from donating blood to donating an organ.

A person is born with two kidneys when one can do the job. Kidney disease, when it occurs, affects both kidneys. The only instance only one kidney would fail is if there was physical trauma to one kidney. Here are all these people who cannot lead normal lives because they need machines to do the job their kidneys are supposed to do and here I am with two perfectly healthy kidneys when I only need one. Were my kidneys to fail would I not want someone else’s kidney? Why should I not donate a kidney when I don’t need both?

In the next post: Who would I be willing to donate to? Do I even have the right to say one recipient is more deserving than another? And, then the forms begin. Endless forms with endless questions…


#2 brianna

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:27 PM

Kidney disease, when it occurs, affects both kidneys. The only instance only one kidney would fail is if there was physical trauma to one kidney.

Source?

Here are all these people who cannot lead normal lives because they need machines to do the job their kidneys are supposed to do and here I am with two perfectly healthy kidneys when I only need one. Were my kidneys to fail would I not want someone else’s kidney? Why should I not donate a kidney when I don’t need both?

Because one kidney needs to work a lot harder to do the job of two kidneys. You don't know what your own future holds or if a family member might need the kidney at some time down the line. Also, kidney removal is major surgery and all surgery has risks. Something could go wrong, and you could die on the table. Even under the best of circumstances donating a kidney is a much, much bigger deal than donating blood.

In the next post: Who would I be willing to donate to? Do I even have the right to say one recipient is more deserving than another?

It's your kidney - you could give it to whoever you wanted. The waiting lists have standards - I see no reason why you couldn't as well.

And, then the forms begin. Endless forms with endless questions…

The forms can be intimidating but it's the surgery that's the big deal, not the endless paperwork.

All in all I think you're romanticizing the whole thing. I would definitely examine my motives before donating. If you're doing it to get thanks or to feel like a hero, it's a bad idea. The person would be appreciative but it creates an uncomfortable situation in which nothing the person could do would make up for the enormous gift you gave them. They might have little in common with you and would only stay in touch for a short time after the surgery. If you're going to donate a kidney, make sure you're being completely and totally selfless.
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#3 KeepCoolNY

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:58 PM

Source?

This is a persona journal of my experience, not an encyclopedia article. I will not spend time finding sources and linking to articles that support every statement I make. Renal failure happens to both kidneys at the same time. Make sure to find a source for that before you ever consider donating one.

Also, kidney removal is major surgery and all surgery has risks. Something could go wrong, and you could die on the table. Even under the best of circumstances donating a kidney is a much, much bigger deal than donating blood.

I was not trying to equate kidney donation to blood donation, I was merely explaining the path I took to get to where I am. I understand that kidney donation is major surgery carrying major risks. Yet just like someone somewhere would do it for me if my kidneys failed...

All in all I think you're romanticizing the whole thing.

I don't think I am romanticizing it as much as I am rationalizing it.

#4 comfortingsong

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:17 PM

Because one kidney needs to work a lot harder to do the job of two kidneys.

This is so blatantly not true. Read any scientific journal or article on kidney donation or kidney function. Having one kidney does not affect you in any way at all, including the fact that it doesn't "work harder" because it lost its pair. The only danger in having one kidney is if that one kidney gets punctured (i.e. you are a pro-football player and get slammed with something pointy while being tackled or you get into a car accident and something punctures your single available kidney). Donating a kidney is actually the safest way to prevent kidney issues in the future: Once you donate, you are automatically moved to the top of the kidney waiting list, should you need a kidney. Therefore, one may argue, that donating a kidney can be selfish thing to do, because it protects you - should you ever need a kidney yourself.

From The National Kidney Federation UK:
If we are capable of living with one kidney, why do we have two?
"It is not clear why there are normally two kidneys. The human body does not need two kidneys, it could manage perfectly well with one kidney. It may just be that it has been useful for us to develop some parts of the body in pairs (arms and legs), so other parts doubled up as well. It is also possible that there is an evolutionary advantage in having a "spare" kidney, and this is certainly important in modern medicine, because people can live live normal lives with one normal kidney."

You don't know what your own future holds or if a family member might need the kidney at some time down the line.

Yes, you could go through your life with this attitude. Why should you ever give charity - maybe you should just hold onto all your money in case you might need it one day because something goes wrong. Hopefully, someone with such a selfless personality shares a similar selfless spouse or other family members that would be willing to donate to another family member, should the need arrive.

Also, kidney removal is major surgery and all surgery has risks. Something could go wrong, and you could die on the table.

Yes, many daily activities have major risks. "The donor surgery has a .03% mortality rate (i.e., 3 in 10,000)." Walking out of your house every day, especially in the hood in Far Rockaway, is a serious risk to your life. I understand that it's major surgery, but the risks are not that major when you compare it to getting into your car everyday, or G-d forbid skiing. Seriously, every person who volunteers to risk his/her life on skiing should be morally obligated to donate a kidney. That's how I see it, anyway.

#5 Razie

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:31 PM

...


Welcome! Nice first post. Stick around. IQ of this place will double :D

#6 comfortingsong

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 10:36 PM

Welcome! Nice first post. Stick around. IQ of this place will double :D


LOL! I heard that you're the local genius around here! :)

#7 accolade

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 11:35 PM

The story begins more than four years ago when I was dating my wife and we went to donate blood on one of our dates. I had never donated blood before and found it really easy. I have good veins (making for a quick and easy insertion) I didn’t feel faint or week after donating blood. Our date helped save lives and it cost us nothing. No training, no money and very little time.

Love the idea!! Wow.
דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד

#8 kravmaga

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:05 AM

ive been tested to donate and hope someday to do so. i too have been discouraged and it amazes me. if you dont want to give your kidney thats fine but why be bothered if i do?

#9 politico

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 09:03 AM

if you dont want to give your kidney thats fine but why be bothered if i do?

:stupid:
zinh.

#10 Sweet

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 12:41 PM

If you're doing it to get thanks or to feel like a hero, it's a bad idea. The person would be appreciative but it creates an uncomfortable situation in which nothing the person could do would make up for the enormous gift you gave them.

This handy diagram should make the decision easier.

Uncomfortable > Dead
The world has too many stupid people who are full of confidence, and smart people who are full of self-doubt.

#11 Natanel

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:57 PM

Although counter-intuitive it does seem that there isn't much long-term risk to donating a kidney.

http://www.nejm.org/...TOC&#t=abstract

Of course there still are risks of the surgery.
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#12 israeli4ever

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:43 PM

I think that if you have someone to donate to, and you are psychologically/emotionally prepared to do it, Kol HaKavod!!
Why would anyone try to dissuade someone from donating their kidney?

(maybe I'll come back to H.com just to follow this... ;) )
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#13 Guest_Shuli_*

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:07 PM

.

#14 KeepCoolNY

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:24 PM

Part II

The next decision I needed to make was who would I be willing to donate to? I decided I would donate to someone young and that I would not donate to someone who has family who can but don't want to donate. If the person's own children won't take the risk why should I?

In my first conversation with Renewal we played Jewish Geography and he promised to send me some forms. I got the forms and went on vacation. When I got back from vacation I sat down to fill out the forms. Do you or any family members have a history have a history of kidney stones? I don't know. Turns out my father was hospitalized for kidney stones in '83 but has been ok since. Not a problem says Renewal, they'll just do a study and make sure you're not at risk.

A day later, on a Friday, I get a call from a Program Director at Renewal. In addition to all the standard questions (who is your uncle and why do you want to donate etc.) he starts asking the tough questions. Who do you want to donate to? I decide on the spot that my age limit is 55. I also mention that I don't want to donate to someone who has family who can but don't want to donate. Since I am O Negative he starts looking at his list, looking for Os since they can only receive from an O. The only O on the list that is below 55 has children who are afraid to donate, I say no.

"Would you donate to someone who is mentally disabled?" Now that's a tough question. My kidney will most likely not save someone who is about to die, it is far more likely to drastically improve the quality of life of someone with failing kidneys who now has to go for dialysis a few times a week. The person can't hold a normal job, can't travel, is in pain and so much more. How can I decide that a mentally disabled person's quality of life is less important than another's? I don't answer the question.

As I ponder this on the train home with some acquaintances some interesting questions are raised. One says "don't you need to be buried with all your organs?" This makes no sense to me. This is not my Judaism. My Judaism does not prefer someone suffer so I can be buried with all my organs. As we discuss the mental question a friend raises another question. Where is my line? If I find out that the person I am about to donate to is an abusive husband, would I still donate? What if he's a white collar criminal? Playing God is scary.

This past motzai shabbos I get an email asking if I would contact the donor coordinator to test for a 33 year old mother. This is now real. This is the same hospital and the same coordinator that my wife was working with when she was considering it... Good thing I have until Monday to let it sink in.

#15 Belle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:30 PM

I am impressed. I am glad that you're doing this. If I were allowed to donate a kidney, I think I would seriously consider it. As it is, I was kicked off the bone marrow registry and most blood centers won't accept my blood. It's really frustrating, because I'm not squeamish, not afraid of pain, and it's all free, so I wish so much that I could keep donating.

:thumbsup:

As an aside, I don't believe that anyone can donate completely altruistically. The donor will definitely be made to feel like a hero, and that's inescapable. There is NOTHING wrong with saving a life and being proud of yourself for having done it. Geez.
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#16 Razie

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:42 PM

My uncle had PolyCystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

He spent half his life on dialysis.

His kids did not donate to him. He did have 3 transplants which lasted for various lengths of time.

Of his 5 orphaned kids, 1 for sure has it, and 1 for sure does not. The big question is whether at least 3 don't have it so there are enough siblings to donate to the affected ones.

Don't judge so quickly if people won't donate to their parent. They may also be unsure of their own health and whether they might need to donate to a young sibling rather than an old parent.

Change your rules to "healthy unafflicted" relatives with no one else to consider. If you knew you had a 55 year old dad afflicted and also a 25 year old sister new mom also afflicted but not in late stages yet, would you for sure be donating to your dad if you were possibly your sister's only hope?

#17 Belle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:50 PM

Don't judge so quickly if people won't donate to their parent. They may also be unsure of their own health and whether they might need to donate to a young sibling rather than an old parent.


I agree completely.
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#18 KeepCoolNY

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 05:51 PM

Change your rules to "healthy unafflicted" relatives with no one else to consider. If you knew you had a 55 year old dad afflicted and also a 25 year old sister new mom also afflicted but not in late stages yet, would you for sure be donating to your dad if you were possibly your sister's only hope?


Valid point. So far the only one I said no to was a person whose children were "afraid" to donate.

#19 Belle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:09 PM

Valid point. So far the only one I said no to was a person whose children were "afraid" to donate.


I still disagree with that. You're doing it to help someone live, is that not so? Then I see no reason to withhold donating to someone whose children are afraid.
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#20 comfortingsong

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 06:11 PM

My uncle had PolyCystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

He spent half his life on dialysis.

His kids did not donate to him. He did have 3 transplants which lasted for various lengths of time.

Of his 5 orphaned kids, 1 for sure has it, and 1 for sure does not. The big question is whether at least 3 don't have it so there are enough siblings to donate to the affected ones.

Don't judge so quickly if people won't donate to their parent. They may also be unsure of their own health and whether they might need to donate to a young sibling rather than an old parent.

Change your rules to "healthy unafflicted" relatives with no one else to consider. If you knew you had a 55 year old dad afflicted and also a 25 year old sister new mom also afflicted but not in late stages yet, would you for sure be donating to your dad if you were possibly your sister's only hope?

Agree that this point is valid, but I understood that as keepcoolny's point in the beginning. The issue is people who can but CHOOSE to not donate (because of fear or lack of desire to be made uncomfortable - or what I think is the worst... the parent doesn't want his/her child to donate because of the "surgery risk," where it's okay to have a stranger to take that risk for you). If you don't want your child to go through the surgery because you're nervous, then fine. But I think it's wrong then to take a altruistic stranger's kidney.




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