Monday, March 28, 2011

Giving the Ultimate Gift As a Living Donor

kb Marathon2
The first thing you can do if you’re reading this blog, is please share its link across all of your social media outlets!  The more who read it, the more hope that a donor will be found for my brother, Kevin. He’s been on a transplant waiting list for three years.  The best chance of living a normal life for him is to find a living donor.  His kidney function is only at 10% and he will HAVE to start dialysis imminently.  The urgency is that a new kidney will function better and last longer IF transplanted before dialysis begins. 
Another benefit of live kidney donation is the increased survival rate.  Live donor transplants increase the survival rate significantly of the recipient vs. cadaveric donation. 
For anyone contemplating being a living donor, you can fill out the Live Donor Referral Form from Penn Transplant Institute.

Being a living donor is a monumental decision. It is normal to have fears, concerns & a sense of trepidation.  Therefore I’m devoting this post from the perspective of a living donor.

First of all I wish to reiterate what I’ve stated in previous posts, there is NO COST to the donor for the pre-qualification medical or the transplant surgery!  The insurance covers it all. If you need to travel for pre-screening and for the surgery itself, all travel expenses are the responsibility of my brother. 

LivingDonorsOnline offers these considerations to those contemplating becoming a living donor:
“Living donation involves significant invasive medical procedures. Please make sure you are ready to donate. Being ready means:
  • I am intellectually ready: I have studied living organ donation, and I understand the process including the risks involved.
  • I am emotionally ready: I have prepared myself emotionally for living donation, including the possibility that the donation may not be successful and that I may be harmed in the process.
  • I am physically ready: I am in great physical shape because I need to withstand major surgery, I need to have a healthy organ or marrow to donate, and I need to live with less than my full complement of organs.
  • I am financially ready: I have the financial resources such as savings and paid time-off (vacation, sick days, short-term disability, etc.) to tide me over (and my family, if I have one) while I am being tested, in the hospital for surgery, and away from work while I recover. I also have insurance protection in the event I die or am permanently disabled by the donation.
  • I am spiritually ready: I am driven to donate by the right motives.”
ScienceOnline has a great article One Kidney is More than Enough you might want to read. It states in part; “Kidneys are one of the few organs that people can donate while living. A new study shows that kidney donors generally live long, happy lives"

Consider the words of living kidney donor Keith Langston: "There are 80,000 people on the kidney donor list, and we could wipe that list out through live donation," Langston said. "I want people to know that it only takes five or six days to help someone live a full and happy life." Langston also described the transplant surgery in this way:  "I don't think many people realize this, but the donor surgery is done laprascopically now with the exception of removing the kidney," Langston said. "I have four puncture wounds and a three-inch incision line." A week post surgery & Langston returned to work!

The Facebook group Gift of Life-Live Kidney Donors is a wonderful resource to read the comments from actual live donors who relate their experiences. 

There are certainly risks associated with being a live donor, the same as with any surgery performed under general anesthetic.  The transplant team will thoroughly review these risks with the donor. With laprascopic techniques the surgery is less invasive and the recovery time is much quicker than the old method.  And according to the Penn Transplant Institute, studies have shown that there is no long-term effect on the health of the donor or the remaining kidney. Donors are at no greater risk of developing kidney failure after donating than anyone in the general population. Studies have shown that donors typically live longer than the average population because they are selected on the basis of good health and are thoroughly screened prior to donation.

There is so much need in the United States for live donors. According to US Dept of Health, as of March 18, 2011, there were 93,791 patients on the kidney transplant waiting list! In 2010, there were only 16,898 kidney transplants performed in the US. Only 6,276 were from live donors. Becoming a living donor is truly the gift of life!


  1. My daughter started dialysis at 18 years old and 3 years later was fortunate to get a kidney from an altruistic living donor. Here's our story - best of luck in your search!

  2. Hi Karol! I am so happy to learn of your daughter's transplant! Thank you for sharing the story with us & for reading & commenting!

  3. What are the precautions to be taken while donating the organs?

  4. We may get the organ donors by giving good publicity. It will be more useful.

  5. I agree @krishnacardiac, there needs to be more publicity about being an organ donor! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. @Global Hospitals-I am not a physician, nor a transplant expert, just a sister hoping to find a living donor for my brother. But thank you for reading the blog!

  7. Hi Pam,
    In Australia we also have the dire problem of a lack of registered donors. Seems too difficult to register one's absolute wishes. Perhaps an opt-out system where everyone is considered a donor unless they fill in the required forms etc. would boost donorship levels.

  8. Great publicity , i will share this link to all

  9. Thank you both, Yang Brand & Adam Mark. I appreciate your reading!