About Me

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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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The healing process after donating a kidney

It has been six weeks since I donated a kidney. So many people have asked me to give my view of the healing process. I made sure before going into the hospital to do any errands since I knew I would not be driving when released from the hospital. And of course me being OCD I had to be sure I had exactly what I wanted. God forbid I ask someone to do a me a favor! I stocked up on any foods that I wanted for when I came home as well as magazines, books, anything I might enjoy while recuperating.

The first week was without a doubt the most difficult. For me, when I am not feeling that great, I prefer to just hang out in sweats and not have too many people hovering over me. It is also important to avoid people who may have colds or flu. Coughing or sneezing is not fun right after surgery. If you do need to cough or sneeze, holding a pillow over your tummy will help a great deal. I was instructed to not lift anything more than 10 pounds for the first couple of weeks which believe me...I had no desire to. Although I was hungry I found that I couldn't eat the usual portions I did prior to the surgery. I am sure part of this was from not eating that much in the hospital but I also believe that because there is so much CO2 pumped into you when you have the surgery, there is a bloating feeling and adding too much food at one time makes it more uncomfortable. A friend of mine who is in an incredible cook brought me my favorite...fresh home made soups. I did make sure to eat something every three to four hours.

Sleeping the first week was a bit of a challenge because I am a "tummy sleeper". There was NO way that I was going to lay on my stomach to sleep. I tried a bazillion different positions but I found that putting a pillow between my legs while lying on my side took pressure off of the incision. I more or less gently rolled out of bed as opposed to popping up like I normally would. You will of course receive pain medications when you leave the hospital and most likely a stool softener, as pain medication has a tendency to cause constipation. Honestly, having a bag of good old fashioned prunes is a major help in this area.

The second week was definitely much better. I had stopped using the pain medication which meant it was ok for me to drive. I have to tell you that driving is THE one thing that gave me the most discomfort. I did fine on short runs to the market, etc., but I made the mistake of thinking I could visit friends in the burbs that next week. NOT a good choice! I was literally stuck in the usual Chicago traffic on I88. Forty-five minutes passed and I think I managed to move about 8 miles. I felt incredibly nauseated and I was so uncomfortable around the lower incision, that I pulled off the interstate and went back home.

I think everyone has a good idea of what their own pain tolerance is. I have a fairly high tolerance and I am not one to use pain medications unless I'm really in agony. I'd rather know what's going on with my body in the healing process. By the time I got home I could not WAIT to take a half a pain pill. People who know me will tell you I avoid taking anything but this was misery. Now I do have a car that is sporty and low to the ground. I tried every possible seat adjustment button I could for the seat to no avail in being more comfortable.

I made sure to contact my transplant coordinator to make sure that this was normal and not an issue. One thing I can not stress enough is DO NOT hesitate to call the Transplant Unit, they are available 24 hours a day if you are having difficulty of any kind or have questions. As far as I am concerned, there are no stupid questions.

Now I know that the hospital says that most people can return to work after the first week. Obviously that doesn't hold true for someone who has a position that requires hard labor or lifting anything. But even if I had a desk job, I doubt seriously that I could have gone back after one week and have resumed a full time schedule. Again, everyone is different. I found that if I was confined for any length of time, sitting, driving, attending services that I simply could not do it without getting up and moving around.

I love to walk. So after the first week I started my daily walking routine. I generally walk three miles a day but I took it slow the first week and did one mile and gradually worked up to my usual three miles. I found that walking really helped me work out the "kinks" as well as help boost my energy level.

Remember...you just gave the most wonderful gift you could give...and you owe it to yourself to take care of you!

Link for the WTTW Channel 11 Interview:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Importance of Early Education on Kidney Transplant Options

According to the OPTN, the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, as of today there are now officially over 85,000 people on the waiting list for a Kidney.
I received an email this week that was basically a "scolding" that I was a "newbee" to the Living Donor community and if I was going to educate the public, I should give more detailed research. I would like all of you to understand that I am not a medical professional and this blog is dedicated to MY journey as an Altruistic Living Donor.

I have stated in all of my blogs that it is important for anyone considering this procedure to do their research and homework and visit numerous resource sites.
My mission is to encourage Living Kidney Donors by sharing my personal experience.

Out of 107,529 who are on the National waiting list for a transplant, 80% consist of those awaiting a kidney transplant. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is an average of five years. Five years is a long time and many will become ineligible to receive a kideny even if it becomes available. This keeps the kideny transplant in the number one postion of need. While the waiting list for a kidney has doubled over the last 10 years, the donors list has not kept up with the need. With the number of people waiting for a kidney continuing to grow, our challenge is...where do we get a kidney?

Please understand that I am the first to be a MAJOR supporter of urging people to become an Organ Donor. I think it is imperative to support all organizations who promote and educate on becoming an organ donor. I myself have been a registered organ donor since the 1970’s. But we do face the dilemma that even if all of the organs could be harvested, a majority of them will not be acceptable for numerous reasons. These reasons are the same for those who are interested in becoming a living kidney donor or even a donor of blood. I do believe that organ donation is crucial because of the numerous organs and tissue that can help others including those waiting for a kidney.

With this being said, it is positively crucial for EARLY education to those who may potentially need a kidney transplant. It certainly is not an easy topic to bring up to family and friends, but one that is very necessary.
You absolutely must discuss this need, tell your story. The more people that know, the stronger possibility someone may step up and offer to donate. If they are not a match they may still be willing to be part of a kidney pairing in order to find an appropriate match. For more information on Living Kidney Donors and Kidney Pairings, please go to the Living Kidney Donor Network website;

The second challenge we have is that too many people suffering from kidney failure are not receiving information in the early stages from their physician about the idea of living kidney donor ship. It would only seem natural to me that physicians should be receiving information on this process on a regular basis. It would be ideal to see the topic be included in Continued Medical Education programs for physicians. Too many patients are being placed on dialysis and the national waiting list which means 5 years or more before a kidney is found. Some patients don’t have 5 years to wait.

Receiving a kidney from a Living Donor is the BEST POSSIBLE form of kidney donation according to medical research. It is my hopes at some point to gain funding to make a 45 minute DVD on the living Donor Process. It may take a while but it’s a purpose that I am dedicated to.

We absolutely must find a better way to communicate and educate the need of kidney patients. The reality is that the only way we can reduce the wait for a kidney is to increase the number of Living Donors.

Many people who do not live in a major city may face a difficult time in finding hospitals that have transplant programs. If that the case then I would suggest you that contact major hospitals in a larger city near you. I can not begin to tell you how many people have written to me from my blog saying they only wish they had this kind of information earlier.

These points all lead to how important it is to have a non-profit organization like the Living Kidney Donor Network.
I hope you will take the time to comb this website and listen to the webinars that are available to you by Harvey Mysel, President and Founder. The National Kidney Registry is another invaluable site; http://www.kidneyregistry.org/index.php?cookie=1

Spread the word and Make Life Happen!!

WTTW, Channel 11 Interview: May 19, 2010