In 2010, I donated a kidney through the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. It was a tremendously positive experience. I want to share my story in the hope that it will help others make the decision to become a donor and give the gift of life.

If you are thinking of becoming a living kidney donor, the first step is to contact the transplant center where the patient is listed. If you are want to be a nondirected donor (meaning you don’t have a recipient in mind), I suggest you volunteer to start a chain by contacting the National Kidney Registry.

My feeling on becoming a kidney donor

Here are some stories that mark emotional milestones along my journey to become a nondirected kidney donor.

GtaniwakiKidney

I’m donating my kidney

How I decided to become a nondirected kidney donor (11/27/2007)

NewEnglJMed2009

Is donating a kidney safe?

A review of the medical literature shows that while the long-term data is sparse, the overall long-term risk is low (12/1/2009)

Blank

What does it cost to be a donor?

All direct medical costs are covered by the recipient’s insurance. But there are other potential costs to being a donor (not yet posted)

LawAndOrderCI

Is it sane to be a nondirected kidney donor?

Nondirected donors are scrutinized more rigorously for psychological issues than related donors (2/5/2010)

AcceptanceLetter

Getting the acceptance letter

The University of Washington Medical Center accepts me into its nondirected donor program (3/11/2010)

OKSolo

The morning of surgery

I am not an excitable guy, so my feelings on the day of my transplant  may not be typical (9/29/2010)

Blank

Post-donation depression

About four months after surgery I have an unusual bout of lethargy. This is not a common occurrence (not yet posted)

 

Evaluation of a potential donor

The transplant center will conduct a lot of tests and interviews before accepting you as a potential donor. Each center has its own procedures and acceptance criteria. And they can change over time. So your experience may be different from mine.

While going through the evaluation remember these two rules. First, don’t be shy. If you have any questions, ask (in fact, write them down so you don’t forget). Second, be patient and persistent, the evaluation process can take many weeks.

BloodQueue

HLA crossmatch

Blood sample and cheek swab to check if my blood type and HLA antigens are compatible with a possible recipient (4/26/2010)

3LiterUrine

Creatinine clearance rate test

The CCR test measures kidney function using a 24-hour urine specimen (3/10/2008)

BloodVials

Baseline medical tests

Electrocardiogram (ECG), chest radiograph, blood panel, urinalysis, tuberculosis PPD test, and two more 24-hour urine samples for CCR tests (9/16/2009)

Kidney Care

Nephrologist consult

A nephrologist examines me, interviews me, and answers my questions about donation (9/16/2009)

PaigeKayihan

Social worker consult

A social worker interviews me and my wife to ensure we understand the medical, financial, and psychological risks of donation (9/16/2009)

PaoloSalvalaggio

Surgeon consult

The surgeon scheduled to remove my kidney describes the procedure and ensures I understand the medical risks (10/12/2009)

Psychiatrist consult

A psychiatrist interviews me to ensure that I do not exhibit a mental disorder (2/10/2010)

gtaniwakiCTScan

CT scan angiogram

Mapping the arteries and veins connecting the kidney to help the surgeon plan the surgery (10/12/2009)

gtaniwakiGamma

Split renogram

Because my two kidneys are not the same size, an extra test is run to measure the function of each kidney. This is not a common test (11/3/2009)

BoneMarrowSamples

Bone marrow biopsy

My low white blood count requires a bone marrow biopsy to rule out any malignancy. This is not a common test (6/23/2010)

IMG_0583

Functional MRI brain scan

After my surgery, I volunteered to be a subject of a study on brain function of nondirected kidney donors. This is not a common test (not yet posted)

 

Surgery and recovery

After you are accepted as a donor and have a surgery date scheduled, below are a list of items that the surgeon will discuss with you and what the surgery might entail.

LaparoscopicWSJ

About laparoscopic surgery

The most common technique used to remove a kidney uses several small incisions and robots (3/5/2010)

Ramasamy Bakthavatsalam

About open surgery

Sometimes it is necessary to use traditional open surgery where a large incision is made and the operation is performed by hand. This is not a common procedure (9/27/2010)

SurgicalChart

Pre-anesthesia clinic

Meeting with an anesthesiologist two days before surgery (9/27/2010)

Citroma

Preparing for abdominal surgery

The rituals a donor performs the day before surgery (9/28/2010)

PreOr

Surgical admittance

The activities in the pre-surgical preparation room (9/29/2010)

MyKidney

Open right donor nephrectomy

The activities in the operating room during the surgical procedure to remove my kidney (not yet posted)

GtaniwakiRecovery

Post-surgical recovery

The activities in the post anesthesia care unit (PACU) and in the recovery room (09/30/2010 and 10/01/2010)

GtaniwakiPostSurgery

Post-surgical follow-up consults

The surgeon and social worker conduct follow-up exams after one week (10/11/2010) and my nephrologist conducts follow-ups at 6, 12, and 24 months (not yet posted)

 

To see all of my blog posts featuring living donor stories, search for the tag Donor story.

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13 Responses to “Kidney donor guide”

  1. KIMBERLY HALL Says:

    HELLO MY NAME IS KIM , *I DO NOT NEED A TRANSPLANT * I HAVE TWO HEATHY ONES THOUGH, AND I AM MORE THAN WILLING TO SHARE . I DONT QUITE KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT THIS HOWEVER I JUST KNOW I SHOULD. WHAT SPARKED THIS I HEARD IN THE BACK GROUND ON THE NEWS THAT SOMEONE IN VENTURA COUNTY WITH O- BLOODS TYPE NEEDS A KIDNEY. I WOKE UP TODAY THUNKING I WOULD LIKE TO HELP BUT I DONT EVEN KNOW THE NAME OF THE MAN THAT NEEDS IT, OR EVEN HOW TO GO ABOUT HELPING SO THIS IS MY FIRST ATTEMPT . I AM 44 AND I HAVE HARDLY EVER BEEN IVE BEEN HEALTHIER THAN SO MANY AND AS I GET OLDER I DO APPRECIATE THE FACT I CAN STILL JOG ON THE BEACH GO HIKING DANCING LIVE FULLY. I HOPE I CAN HELP SOMEONE, PEACE ALL WAYS. KIMBERLY


    1. Hi Kimberly,
      What a wonderful decision to give the gift of life. I will contact you by email to help you get started as a nondirected donor near your home.
      George

  2. Tora Tang Says:

    I saw your website yesterday.

    I am a dialysis patient and have been looking for a donor for a long time. Before I was so hopeless until I found your blog. I just would like to thank you for your encouragement. You give me a hope.

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Tora,
      Thank you for your kind words.

      As I mention in my blog, the best place to get tips on finding a donor is Living Kidney Donors Network (http://www.lkdn.org). You should also like their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LivingKidneyDonorsNetwork) and join the conversation. Finally, if you are in the Chicago or Seattle area there are mentors available to help you find a donor.

  3. kimberly Says:

    I to am inspired by your kindness, I do hope, I know you will be recieving your gift soon. Gods cool like that. When we help others the things that might help us find thier way. I saw your email before your reply , due to me forgetting to save the site to favorites. So i assume you were a Dr. or volunteer and didnt even consider that you might be a patient needing a transplant .As you know I am not sure how it works, could I give you mine,(if matched) or is it by list , Dr. etc? The whole reason why it struck me as something to do was because I got the impression that O-neg blood type was rare, and they were having a hard time getting donors. Is that the case blood type plays a factor or is there just so few donor that blood type is just another obstacle? I will keep you posted on my progress. Have wonderful day

  4. kimberly Says:

    oops I think I missed it again .Are you the kind spirit that runs the site? In that case I would hope to help Tora if that were possible. Thanks again

  5. DANIEL GIGI Says:

    helo are daniel am from Romania and want to donate a kidney to a sick person suffering and needs a donor gift of life I o1 + pzitiv blood group are healthy please give me a positive response with respect thank you daniel ALTRUIST

  6. ANA Says:

    Hello everybody,
    My father desperately needs a kidney, blood type A+.
    Please help me save his life.
    If there are any donors out there please contact me at k305070@yahoo.com
    May God bless us all.
    ANA

    1. mary Says:

      Ana, you can do a swap program for your father..they take your kidney and give it someone else and your father is matched with another person besides you. It can be done and I hope you are on the swap program.

  7. mary Says:

    I am a kidney donor, gift of life hard to give, it was for sure! Donor’s must be educated better on what happens to their body after the donation. I am not sorry for doing it but, I am sorry that I was not informed of how I would feel afterwards. My gfr is 52 now was 120 My protein in my urine shows my left kidney is spilling protien that it usually does not allow which causes kidney damage. My over all health is a ill feeling …

  8. Fabiane Says:

    i loved your intention to help people by writing these posts, thanks for it.

  9. Faraz suri Says:

    I want to donate my kidney: This is faraz !! Im from Karachi!! I hope u all r fine by the grace of God !!! I am a healthy guy and I want to marry a dialysis patient and then I will donate my kidney to my wife !! I dunt ask for any money .. I hope that I can give to any dialysis patient !! Thank you.

    1. Nikhil Says:

      I wants to donate one of my kidney if gud compunsation will be offered ..i dont have job n i am in need of money..am 28 year boy from india.

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