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.
The New Year is already going by so quickly. But with it brings hope, change and new challenges. I have been working with two living donors this past month, one just finished her donation this week and is doing fantastic. It brought a smile and hope to my face after the New Town slayings which truly rattled all of us to the core. So I am again reminded how many wonderful people there really are out there.
I have been so used to working with non-designated donors that I'll call her "Nancy" had a completely different circumstance. She was in another State her brother here in Chicago and ran across my blog as well as the lkda.org site (the Living Kidney Donors Aliiance) which is a non-profit group to support other living donors. She asked if I would contact her and of course as you know from previous blogs I enjoy working with donors more than anything.
She brought a new set of dynamics to me in her donation. She was frustrated with trying to do her testing in another state, getting bills that should not have been sent to her because the facility doing the testing was not experienced in the living donation process. Hence a great deal frustration. I reminded her not to pull her hair out. She knew that she would be coming to Chicago to make her donation to a family member. I told her to reach out to her advocate at Northwestern and explain all of the issues she was having and to let them take care of it she had enough to worry about. I explained to her that she should not recieve any bills of any type for her donation. She followed my advice and Northwestern's staff straightened it out and Nancy decided to come to Chicago and get all of the additional tests needed instead of dragging things out.
I had to stop and think to myself, wow this entirely different! I was a non-designated donor, I didn't have a family member or friend that I was fighting for. Talk about pressure! All of us would like to think that we would do this but you know in truth it's such a personal decision and it's not for everybody and so those who don't come forward should not feel badly. It is scary especially for those who have never had surgery. But this was a family member of Nancy's. I tried to put myself in her shoes and walked her through the processes and the healing process, what to expect as best as I could. More importantly I wanted her to understand that no matter how badly she "wanted" to donate she needed to be sure that she was 100% comfortable in making the decision to donate. This is true for everyone regardless of it being on behalf of someone or being a non-designated donor. One thought that she hadn't played over in her head was if she wasn't a match for her brother. I asked her about her feeling on a paired exchanged if she wasnt'. That brought food for thought to her to be prepared for.
I met she and her husband (incredibly supportive of her decision) for lunch...well I had lunch she couldn't eat because of testing. What was I thinking having that blue cheese burger in front of her? Couldn't help it my tummmy was growling. I knew after meeting that Nancy was going to make this happen and she did on Friday, February 8th. She gave the gift of life to her brother who had been on dialysis for two years.
Of course I am very pro Northwestern. It's one of the top three transplant facilities in the United States. Anyone considering donating should feel comfortable that where they are donating has extensive experience in the living donation process. One thing Nancy mentioned which truly impressed me again about Northwesten, is right before her surgery one of her family members got there right before being taken into surgery. Obviously this would be an emtional moment for anyone (I would be crying my eyes out while trying to make a joke). But as she was being rolled into the OR the Surgeon said to her..are you alright and are you sure that you want to do this. I love this! It was kind and a reflection of responsible, appropriate care. Any donor has the right to back out at ANY time during the process. No one should ever go forward without confidence they are doing the right thing for themselves.
I am so incredibly blessed to have made so many friends from mentoring. I am so happy that she found the sites and researched and educated herself as much as possible before she made her decision. This is what I so strongly recommend for anyone who is interested in donating. Don't let it be an emotional knee jerk reaction. Be responsible to yourself and get your questions answered and find someone who has been through it. Make sure you share your decision with family and friends and form a support network. You owe it to yourself to be responsible in your decision. That is exactly what Nancy did.
Because she was traveling here to make her donation, it was a good opportunity to remind her about traveling home afterwards. It's not easy getting on a plane less than one week after donating! I suggested that she not have any carry-on luggage AT all other than her purse and manybe a comfort pillow. Unfortunately her husband had to leave before she did. I said get a sky cap when you arrive, tell them that you just donated a kidney and make sure they take you by wheel chair to your gate. Lets face it people in the airport can be incredibly rude. Oh did I just hit you with my 10,000 pound back back in your incision? Yes and thank you so much! Here let me run by you at 20 mph so I can get to the gate first with my 3,4,5 or 6 carry-ons. I suggested when she got to the gate to make sure that the staff at the counter knew she just donated and to ask if she could please pre-board not to risk being run over or have her incisions being knocked and bumped. When I traveled right after surgery which was not as quickly as Nancy, the airlines were very accomodating and more than happy to let me pre-board and even made sure I had a more comfortable area to sit. Because sitting for any length of time can be rather difficult after you first dontate make sure that you get up and stretch your legs, walk up and down the isle a couple of times during the flight. Ask the flight attendant if it's possible for your to deplane first or wait until everyone is off the place to exit. Protecting your fresh incision site is important and I honestly avoided crowded places for several weeks until I really felt my incisions were well healed. Dress comfortably I lived in sweats for weeks and frankly I didn't care I wasn't out to impress anyone. I just wanted comfort!
So as I write this blog, Nancy is recovering very well and so is her brother. They are in awe of the entire process and as one of her family member said, it was like seeing a miracle in front you...well it is.