by George Taniwaki
Today, I am going to the University of Washington Medical Center to meet with the surgeon, Paolo Salvalaggio. This will be my fourth appointment at UWMC.
Dr. Salvalaggio reminds me of two facts that I am already quite familiar with. First, unlike most surgery where the patient must balance benefits and risks, a donor nephrectomy (kidney donation surgery) will provide me with absolutely no medical benefits while subjecting me to several risks, including death. Second, this is elective surgery and I am under no obligation to undergo it. I may opt out of it at any time up to the point when I am put under general anesthesia.
Paolo Salvalaggio. Photo from UWMC
He also outlines the risks of abdominal surgery. The most common risk is bleeding, which occurs in 1 out of 200 surgeries. If there is bleeding, it may require opening me up to stop it, even if the original surgery was laparoscopic.
The second risk is infection, especially from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This bacterial infection is highly resistant to some antibiotics and is potentially fatal. This happens in 1 out of 1000 surgeries, but has never happened during transplant surgery at UWMC.
Finally, there is a risk of dying during the surgery from cardiac arrest. This is quite rare, occurring in 1 out of 10,000 surgeries, but has never happened during a transplant at UWMC.
I am aware of these risks and am prepared to accept them.
For more information on becoming a kidney donor, see my Kidney donor guide.
[Update: Because of a scheduling conflict, I have a new surgeon, see Mar 2010 blog post.]