- 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, November 14, 2011
After being a Donor and Before - Taking Care of your health
It's been a year and half now since I donated my kidney. I am amazed how quickly the time has gone by. I've had the honor of mentoring 23 people through the process and other than donating, it's one of greatest joys.
I have noticed there are several common threads that come after the donation and are things that all donors should all have explored prior. One of the most important things to ask your transplant center, is what type of follow up program do they have for you as a living donor. If it's just a one week and one month check up there are many issues that you need to stop and think about.
My kidney donation transplant was done at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. They have a two year follow up program for their livng donors. What I am hearing the most now from so many donors is that other than their one week and perhaps a month follow up check up...that's it.
The reality of the situation is that all tranpslant centers should have a uniformed program in following their donors. In my opinion, it should be more than two years but I am grateful that I have the two years compared to so many.
For all of you who are considering donating, ask up front exactly what their follow up program is. As a donor, it's very important to keep up with your blood work and creatine level checks. Since I am not a medical professional, I'll ask you to be sure to take the time to discuss this with your transplant team of what the normal level is...what to expect right after the surgery and how important it is for you to
monitor it on a regular basis. If they don't have a follow up program, understand that it will be your responsibility financially to make sure that you have this test performed with your own personal physician. I am personally convinced that transplant centers should have a much longer period of time that they monitor the living donor.
Make sure that your personal physician has a copy of your complete medical file from the transplant center. Your doctor will find this helpful in future testing needs.
Be sure to ask the transplant center if you have staples internally, ask what type they are. It makes a difference should you ever need an MRI in the future. Mine are titanium, which makes them completely MRI safe. You want to be sure that yours are as well since none of us know if we might need this test for any medical reason in the future.
Although most people are told not to take Advil or any type of Ibprofen, when you are discharged, there really isn't any formal list of medications to avoid..but there are. Certain antibiotics should be avoided...even over the counter common meds can contain ingredients that might not be your best choice. Therefore I suggest that you make best friends with your pharmacist. Mine has even made a notation in my file that I have one kidney. Whenever I feel that I need something from over the counter, i.e., allergy, cold, flu medications, I always ask the pharmacist if they are conducive to taking with having one kidney.
YOU must be your greatest advocate. Do not be intimidated about asking questions and calling your transplant center. That is what they are there for. There are no stupid questions. This is your body and it's up to you take the best care possible of it. Too many people are shy or feel that they are stupid for calling. Don't let this just be just for physical issues, but emotionally as well.
Many people have expressed to me frustration after donating that they just aren't up to par after two weeks. I have to say the majority of people that I have mentored did not in fact feel ready to assume their normal duties in just two weeks.
Although the superficial incisions may have healed and are much better, you must remember that the internal healing process is longer. You may feel more tired. You might not be comfortable driving in two weeeks. This is just very basic time frame.
I have known people who were back to normal in one week, but the majority really not ready for four weeks or longer. Every person is different.
It is my hopes that transplant centers will expand on many of these issues for future and past donors. Donating is an incredible experience and I have positively no regrets. I've never second guessed my decision. I would like to see the living donor experience be even better and it is my hopes that UNOS and the transplant centers will understand how valuable their living donors are and how much information there is yet to be learned from each and every one of them.