The gift of life
I have been a renal patient since the age of 6. I had chicken pox, and that lead my already diseased kidney’s
to not work. So I went on peritoneal dialysis. Every night while I slept, I had dialysis at home. I was doing ok but I wasn’t doing great. When you’re that age, you don’t want to take your tums (yuck!), or eat if you don’t feel like it.
So at the age of 8 I had my first transplant at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (via the Ottawa General Hospital.) It was a great solution, I started eating more, and gaining weight. Unfortunately, I only had that transplant for five years. Fortunately, at the time you didn’t need to go back on dialysis to go on the transplant list, so a few months after I was placed on the list…
I got my second transplant. That was very fortunate, as I was in grade 6 at the time. Two years later I had to have a follow up surgery to repair the connection between my kidney and bladder. That kidney, thankfully, lasted 7 years. At this point my doctor’s started asking questions, mainly about why my kidney isn’t lasting the 10 – 20 years they expect.
I was born with Nephrotic Syndrome. You can click the link for more detail, but the laymen’s version is scarring on my kidney. The current theory is that this syndrome will continue to attack future kidney’s, meaning it’s possible I may only keep a kidney 5 – 10 years.
In 2002, I had my third transplant which also lasted 5 years. I am on the transplant list, to be one of a handful of people worldwide to have a fourth transplant, but so far I have been on the list for 7 years. I may have a long wait. Why? Due to the number of blood products (transfusions, transplants, etc) I have pretty much every antibody there is. So they are very careful which kidney they will match to me, to ensure it is a success.
This is why a living donor kidney would be most beneficial to me.
Living kidney donation has revolutionized kidney transplantation and many studies have confirmed the longer survival times for kidneys from a living donor. There are many other benefits of having a transplant from a living donor: (Source for this part.)
• Living donation eliminates the recipient’s need to wait for a transplant on the
• Short and long term survival rates are significantly better and provide a better outcome
than transplants from deceased donors. (On average approximately 20 years for a
kidney from a living donor, compared to 13 years for a kidney from a deceased donor).
• You know the donor, his/her lifestyle choices and history
• The kidneys almost always start functioning immediately, deceased donor kidneys can
take from a few days up to a few weeks to start functioning. (Recipient needs to return
• Shortens the waiting time for others on the waiting list
• An individuals health deteriorates the longer you are on dialysis
• A living kidney transplant doubles the life expectancy of the patient, compared to being
• Kidney dialysis is very expensive. The payback for the initial cost for a transplant is one year, even after taking into effect the ongoing cost of anti-rejection drugs.
• You have time to plan for the transplant
• Waiting for a deceased donor can be very stressful.
• The surgery can be scheduled at a mutually-agreed upon time rather than performed as
an emergency operation.
• Perhaps the most important aspect of living donation is the psychological benefit. The
recipient can experience positive feelings knowing that the gift came from a loved one
or someone who cares for you. The donor experiences the satisfaction of knowing that
he or she has contributed to the improved health of the recipient.
If you would like to know more, and/or be tested, you can contact Maureen Connelly, the Living Donor Coordinator, at St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto’s urban Angel) at 416-867-3676. And if you’re not yet registered to be a donor after parting life, I encourage you to visit beadonor.ca
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post.
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