Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2010 Study Results-Good News for Live Donors!

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study last year, in which they examined the long term mortality of over 80,000 live kidney donors from 1994 through 2009. It is the first study of its kind-evaluating live kidney donors-post transplant, on a national level. The study found that 15 years post transplant, the death rate among the kidney donors was no higher than that of those who had not donated a kidney.  

"Whatever happens when people donate kidneys, on average, it doesn't affect the rest of their lives, and that has never been shown before in a study of this size and scope" said study author Dr. Dorry L. Segev, a transplant surgeon at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

While there are risks in the transplant surgery itself, as with any surgery, the risk of death for the donor is actually lower than other more common surgeries! Live kidney donors face a death rate of 3.1 per 10,000 surgeries, compared with 18 deaths per 10,000 gall bladder removal surgeries! Less risk combined with such good results in the long term, must be reassuring to any one contemplating being a live donor. 

The fact that there are so many people on the kidney transplant waiting list (more than 90,000 in the US) demonstrates that there are not enough cadaver (deceased) donor kidneys available to meet the need. Often, patients wait 3 to five years, their health declining as time progresses. This is why over 4000 people on the US Kidney Transplant Waiting list die each year, without ever receiving the transplant. For that reason, live kidney donation becomes critically important.

My brother Kevin has been on the transplant waiting list through Penn Transplant Institute, in Philadelphia, for 3 years. His condition is worsening every day. As I am not a live donor candidate, I'm using social media in hopes of finding a live kidney donor for him. At this stage, that is the best option to prolong his life.

As of this moment, Kevin is well enough to undergo a transplant. But as his health declines, so does his chances of being a transplant recipient. Time is of the essence!

If you're interested in becoming a living donor for Kevin, please complete the Live Kidney Donor Referral form and then fax it to Penn Transplant Institute to begin the evaluation process.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Live Donation-the Gift of Life!

Since the first live kidney donation was performed in Boston in 1954, there have been many improvements in tissue matching, in the surgical procedure and in anti-rejection medications.

By 2010, 37% of all kidney transplants were from living donors!  According to research by the US Department of Health and Human Services Organ Procurement and Transpantation Network, 22% of live kidney donations were from non-related, directed donations.  Meaning there were 1,388 good Samaritans who directed their gift of life to a particular unrelated recipient.

I want to dedicate this blog to those heroes.  Some donate anonymously, some give their kidney to a virtual stranger. In my book they are all angels for their selfless gift of life!

Consider Lora - the "good Samaritan" who donated a kidney to a stranger, a 71 year olf grandmother named Dee, so that Dee could live to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary.  So that Dee would be alive to witness the marriage of the first of her nine grandchildren.  The most common question Lora got pre-transplant was "why would anyone donate a kidney to a stranger?" Lora just thought of the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help a traveler in need after others passed him by.  Lora said "Good Samaritan donors do not know any particular recipient but decide to donate to a stranger because it is the right thing to do." 

Meet Diane, who's comment in a store about her son needing another kidney transplant, was overheard by a stranger-an employee of the store. This young man, a total stranger, told Diane he wanted to be tested to see if he was a match for her son.  The donor was adamant and said: "I want to do this. If everyone in this world would do this, our world would be a better place to live". The stranger WAS a match for Diane's son and on the day of surgery told Diane: "It gave me such joy to do this for your son." 

My online efforts on behalf of my brother Kevin, to help find him a live kidney donor, have made me aware of the great need for organ donors in the U.S.  Over 120,000 people are currently on the organ donor waiting list. More than 90,000 of those are waiting for a kidney.  Unfortunately, more than 4,000 die each year, without receiving the kidney they so desperately need.

To start the living donor process for Kevin, simply fill out the Live Kidney Donor Referral form and fax it to the Penn Transplant Institute in Philadelphia.

If you haven't already registered through your driver's license to be an organ donor, please do so through this link to the US Health & Human Services so that even in death, you can be a hero! 

Monday, April 11, 2011

April-National Donate Life Month

  donatelife_logo                  kidneygift of life
April is National Donate Life month! If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to register as an organ donor via the US Health & Human Services department!  Once there, just enter your state in the upper right hand corner to register!  Then share the link to this blog with your network of friends!

There are so many people who are waiting for a life-saving donation, the data is almost overwhelming. Each day, 18 people die, still waiting for the Gift of Life! Another person is added to an organ transplant waiting list every eleven minutes! Each registered organ donor could potentially save 8 people’s lives!  Given the number of deaths each day among those waiting for an organ, it is clear that there is a shortage of cadaver donors. That’s why living donations are so important.

My brother Kevin is one of those waiting.  He’s been on the transplant waiting list for 3 years.  His kidney function is abysmal – just 10%.  His greatest hope of living out a normal life span is to receive a living kidney donor transplant.

There are so many angels on the Internet So many to thank for their help in getting the message out about Kevin’s plight!  Literally hundreds and hundreds have blipped, tweeted, shared on Facebook & even added to their personal websites and blogs!  Too many to list here, have done so much to increase awareness of Kevin’s plight & for all those who wait!

If you’re interested in becoming a living kidney donor for Kevin, please fill out the Live Kidney Referral Form and fax it in to the Penn Transplant Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I know that a donor will be found. Maybe its you? Maybe it will be whomever you forward this blog to. 
And finally, be sure to register as an organ donor-The ultimate gift of life! 
You can make a difference!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Evolution of Hope

          OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA                                      donatelife_logo
The first thing I would ask of you is that you share the link to this blog to all of your email contacts & by posting on your blog & social media contacts!

My brother Kevin has been on the kidney transplant waiting list for three years, to no avail.  As the time to begin dialysis quickly approaches, the best hope for his recovery is to receive a kidney from a living donor

Can you imagine being in such a position?  Every day, feeling the further decline of your body, as your kidney’s function continually decreases. The symptoms of kidney failure become more acute when your function falls below 15%.  Kevin’s is at 10%. Some of the symptoms include:
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss  
  • A build-up of phosphates in the blood which in turn causes itching, severe muscle cramps & bone damage
  • A build-up of potassium because the kidneys cannot filter it, causing abnormal heart rhythms and muscle paralysis
  • Build-up of fluids causing swelling of the legs, ankles, feet, face and/or hands & shortness of breath due to extra fluid on the lungs
  • General lethargy and weakness

For the first 2 years of waiting, there seemed to be little hope.  But in 2010, a potential donor came forward, offering her kidney.  Blood tests determined the candidate was the correct blood type! Hallelujah! Further tests confirmed her to be a tissue match! Amazing!! In January, Kevin flew the potential donor & her family to Philadelphia to proceed with the pre-transplant evaluation.  We were all so hopeful that he would be healthy again and could stave off the potential risk of dialysis. There was finally hope that he’d be able to live out a normal life span. 

However, all hope was dashed when during the pre-transplant evaluation process, the candidate changed her mind.  Do not misunderstand – NO ONE could fault her for her change of heart!  This is a monumental thing to ask of someone-giving the ultimate gift of life as a living donor!

None of Kevin’s siblings, including myself – are candidates as a kidney donor. Nor is his wife. The only hope now is to find another living donor!

This is why I’m doing all I can to tell Kevin’s story, in hopes someone will be motivated to save him. I have no doubt that a living donor will be found! Already there have been heroes who have stepped up to see if they were a match. I will not stop until Kevin receives a new kidney.  The more who read this blog, the more likely we’ll find that donor! Hope does spring eternal!

The fastest way to start the process of being a living donor for Kevin is to fill out and fax the  Live Donor Referral Form from the Penn Transplant Institute.

If you can’t be a donor, please spread the hope by sharing this blog link with all of your contacts!