As many of you may know, I'm using social media to locate a living donor for my brother Kevin. You could help by simply sharing this blog's link across all of your social media sites.
It occurs to me that some of you might be interested in better understanding the importance of adequate kidney function.
The kidneys are the body's filter. They process 200 quarts of blood - EVERY DAY - filtering out toxic wastes and excess water from the body.
The wastes are by-products of your body's activity at every level. When your body uses food for energy & self-repair, waste by-products are created. It's the kidneys responsibility to take up that waste & then dispose of it through the bladder. The kidneys also regulate the levels of various chemicals in the body. It is as if they are intelligent, when working properly, as they actually analyze the levels of potassium, sodium & phosphorus and determine how much of those chemicals should be released back into the body.
I was surprised to learn that kidneys also release 3 hormones to the body!
- Erythropoietinor EPO which stimulates the bone marrow to make red blood cells
- Renin to regulate blood pressure
- Calcitriol-the active form of vitamin D which helps to maintain the calcium necessary for bones and for normal chemical balance in the body
When the kidneys are not functioning properly, the toxic wastes & fluids build up in the body while at the same time, essential proteins are lost as the kidneys are incapable of filtering them out for the body's use.
Various blood tests determine the rate of kidney function by measuring the levels of chemicals in the blood and assigning a degree of filtration.
There are essentially 3 stages of chronic kidney disease:
- Moderate decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (30 to 59 eGFR
- Severe reduction in eGFR (15 to 29)
- Kidney failure - less than 15 eGFR
Once a patient reaches kidney failure - they have to begin dialysis or get a kidney transplant in order to stay alive.
Hemodialysis consists of being hooked up to a machine - an artificial kidney - to do the filtering of the blood that the kidneys can no longer do. Patients may require 3 sessions per week, each session lasting for hours.
While dialysis staves off certain death, it is not as efficient as properly functioning kidneys. That's why the the average life expectancy of a patient on dialysis is only 4 years.
Kevin is currently at 10 eGFR. There is no hope that the kidneys will suddenly start functioning. There is no choice but to start dialysis or have a transplant. He has been on the transplant waiting list for over three years. As his function continues to decrease and dialysis is imminent, he doesn't have the luxury of time to wait for the elusive cadaver donor kidney. The best solution is to find a living donor. A living donor transplant can be directed to Kevin. It will provide the best opportunity for success - by beginning to function immediately, by minimizing the risk of organ rejection, by improving his quality of life & by adding many years to his life.
To become a living donor for Kevin, contact the Penn Transplant institute website & fill out the Kidney Living Referral Form, listing Kevin Bartley as the recipient at the bottom of the form.
Then help spread the word by sharing the link across all of your social media outlets! This is the best way of finding a living donor! The more who read, the more hope that one will be found!