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Chicago, Illinois, United States
Make Life Happen! Welcome to all of you who visit. If you are looking into becoming a Living Donor and would like a detailed idea of my journey..scroll down and begin with the older posts first. I welcome any questions or topics that you would like to know more about.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

What is an Altruistic Donor (non-designated) and what is the Process to Become One?

An altruistic donor is someone who would like to donate a kidney but does not have a recipient. This is someone who would like to give the gift of a better life to another human being. This is also known as a Good Samaritan Donor.

The impact of being an altruistic donor (non-designated donor) can be mind boggling as in my case, becoming the domino that set off a kidney pairing where 8 people were able to receive a kidney. I was going to be thrilled if accepted, to help one person. My blood type is O positive which makes me a universal donor. I am able to give to A or B where A cant give to B and vice versa. This is an ideal situation to set up a kidney pairing. When I was asked in the testing phases if I wanted to donate one to one or be involved in a pairing, my answer was I would prefer to be involved in the pairing where more then one person would benefit. But I was willing to do one to one as well depending on the need. Do not be discouraged if your blood type is not O positive. It is still possible to be part of pairing.
If for some reason you can not be part of pairing…keep in mind what the person who receives your kidney is thinking. You can change life for another human being! There is no greater gift than that.

Becoming an altruistic donor more commonly referred to as a "non designated donor" is a decision that only you can make. No one should make you feel pressured or obligated to donate… What I can tell you from my personal experience is if I had ten kidneys, I would give nine.

I was extremely fortunate to have organizations like The Living Kidney Donor Network, founded by Harvey Mysel here in Chicago and The John Brockington Foundation, founded by John and Diane Brockington in San Deigo, California as mentors and a wealth of information. If you are thinking of giving the gift of life, do your research and visit both of these websites to gain a better understanding of the donor process and to gain a stronger understanding of the kidney pairing exchange process.

You should investigate and decide what hospital in your area has a Kidney Transplant Program and ask them to send you the initial application to become a kidney donor. The following are the phases of testing that you will you go through before approval. How quickly these steps transpire all depend on the facility. I have heard the average is 6 months but from the time I started my medical testing to the time I donated was only a period of 9 weeks. Don’t be afraid to be pro-active and call the facility to find out where you are in the process.

Keep in mind every facility has a bit of difference in order but this is what you can expect.

Phase 1
Find out what hospitals in or near your area have Kidney Transplant Program. Be sure to ask them up front if they are willing to consider an altruistic donor. There are actually some hospitals that will NOT, which is yet another topic I’d like to attack. They will send an information kit along with an application for you to complete. You will be asked to sign a medical release form to obtain records from your primary physician(s).

Once the facility has received the application and reviewed it, you will be asked to come in for an initial blood draw to determine your blood type and for rule out any conditions that could prohibit you from donating. You will also be asked to do a 24 hour collection of urine to bring with you for your initial lab tests. I made sure my appointment was on a Monday so I could have Sunday to do the urine collection at home.
You will most likely be contacted by the Independent Donor Advocate (IDA) to explain all four phases of the donor process. Your assigned IDA is your main point of contact for any questions, needs or concerns that you may have.

Phase 2
Will include more general lab testing as well as radiology tests to determine overall health, renal focused evaluation to determine the presence of any underlying kidney disease and screening for transmissible diseases.

Phase 3
You will have a general History and physical by one of the medical facility Doctors. You will also see a social worker and possibly a psychiatrist to review your psychological history. If these exams are okay you will then have a CAT scan (with and without dye) of your kidneys to be sure that both are functioning well and also an EKG.
Between phase 3 and 4 you should receive a call that will determine if you are approved to donate. If you are a suitable donor and still want to donate there is usually a 7 day “cooling off period” that is required by all living kidney donors. This must be your decision for all the right reasons and any medical facility wants to be sure that this is what you truly want to do. Remember, the facility is as concerned about your well being as well as a recipient.

Phase 4
Is geared more around Pre-surgery preparation. One to two weeks before the surgery is scheduled you will most likely have to have updated blood tests. You will meet the surgeon(s) and transplant nurse(s) who will answer any questions that you may have as well as going over your
Pre-op instructions.

Make Life Happen!!

WTTW, Channel 11, May 19, 2010 Interview:

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