Archive for March, 2010

I just got a lovely note from Maribel, who received a kidney transplant through an anonymous live donor four weeks ago.

She was part of the recent kidney transplant chain at UC Davis.

Congrats to you and your beautiful family.

A big thanks to Amanda at Parenting by Dummies for letting me guest-blog today as part of Kidney Month.

Here’s my post … and here is Amanda’s post coming out as a parent with kidney disease.

Florida sisters Vicki Wieland and Lisa Yario knew that one day, Lisa’s kidneys would fail. Breast cancer treatment had weakened them about ten years ago.

On March 11, surgeons removed one of Vicki’s kidneys and transplanted it into Lisa.

“The whole thing just seems unreal,” Yario said. “We’ve talked about this happening for so long that it still doesn’t feel like it happened. It doesn’t register that I’ve had a new organ put into my body. Vicki has made this tremendous sacrifice for me, and I really don’t know how to say thank you.”

Wieland already has her thank you.

“When they came into my hospital room and told me Lisa’s kidney function levels were already closing in on normal I just started sobbing,” Wieland said.

“It was so worth it.”

Good job, Vicki. Congrats, everyone.

Could regulated payments be a way to increase the number of living kidney donors, without introducing coercion, exploitation and other human nastiness into the donation process? No one is asking me, but I think with proper screening, yes.

According to an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, it’s hard to say. The authors interviewed several hundred people about whether they’d donate a kidney if compensated, and in the end, they felt that that real-world tests were needed to see what would really happen.

It was a given that it would reduce death and suffering. Seems like time to give compensation for kidney donation a try.

Michigander Sam Karadsheh’s sister donated a kidney to someone in California so that he can receive a kidney from someone else in a living donor chain that will mean a kidney transplant for Sam in months instead of years. And a big, pink kidney from a living person that will fare better than a cadaver kidney.

“It’s beautiful. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says.

Oh, outstanding news! California is establishing the California Living Donor Registry.

Registration will include opportunities for paired donations (I donate to your friend; you donate to mine.), non-directed donation to a stranger and directed donation to a particular person.

“Organ donation is one of the kindest, most generous and powerful actions that each and every one of us can take. With thousands of people in California and throughout the nation currently waiting for a transplant, this legislation represents a new and important resource to increase donor rates,” [Governor Arnold] Schwarzenegger said via a news release. “I am excited to partner with the legislature to implement this life-saving legislation and make California a leader in organ donations.”

This almost makes up for Prop. 8. OK, not really.

Sharp Memorial Hospital cleared Kay Wolff to be a living kidney donor to Zeny Pruna.

“It’s a little extreme to give an organ,” Wolff admits, “but I felt extremely motivated to do it. I just felt this is a way to leave a legacy, and to really help someone in an important way. …

“Some people give money, and some people give their time,” Wolff points out, “but I thought this is something that I thought was significant and important, and I think it’s a time to think about donating an organ.”

Zeny’s very grateful.

“When I wake up, they say that the kidney is working already,” Pruna recalls. “That’s a miracle for me, also. I’m very thankful.”

I’m thankful, too. The hospital has been turning away “numerous” potential kidney donors for five years; Kay is the first to be approved to donate to a stranger. (Is there a wrong reason to save someone’s life?)

Yeah, until pretty recently, it was illegal to donate a kidney to a stranger in the UK. Illegal. To save someone’s life.

But now they’re starting to see the advantage that paired kidney transplants offer. According to one surgeon:

“It’s imperative we look at every option and pooling donors like this gives patients a much better chance in life and helps free them of a lifetime on dialysis.”

Chris Brent, whose sister Lisa Burton donated her kidney to someone else in a three-couple chain so that he could have a transplant, says, “Literally as you wake up out of the anaesthetic you feel better.” Easy-peasy.

Congrats to everyone involved.

“I can’t even say what I could call Dan,” says Sherry Hanson, his tenant of four years.  “He just gave me a life again.”

Dan Hunt, Sherry’s landlord, donated a kidney to Sherry and says, no big deal. He spent a couple of days in the hospital and missed a week of work. Eh.

“It was so easy, honestly, for me that it makes me wonder why more people don’t do this,” he said.

Me, too.

In February, Amy Aliborski donated one of her kidneys to Annie Laib, a stranger whose need she heard about through her church bulletin. She kindly consented to share her experience as a living kidney donor below.

I have enjoyed this experience; more than I thought was possible. My life will never again be the same. I have discovered so much about myself, my friends and family. I am so much braver than I ever imagined.

I have a renewed sense of confidence in everyday situations. I tell myself , “If you can donate your kidney, you can do this.”

I have a renewed hope about my ability to love. For example, if I loved you (a stranger) enough to offer you part of me; I can love the person at work who typically drives me crazy.

This journey has also gifted me with a great sense of gratitude. I am so thankful for my health and for the health of my children. For the week that I didn’t feel so healthy, I realized how tough it must be for mothers with chronic diseases to take care of their families. One of my friends gave me a card that said, “Sleep, wealth and health must be interrupted in order to be appreciated.” So true.

I have learned how much my friends and family love me and how willing they are to protect me. I was so naïve when I initially thought that my husband and I would be able to manage everything during this experience on our own. Wrong! It felt good to accept the help, love and prayers from our friends and family. I have also learned how many of our friends have stories of people they know with kidney disease and transplants. It is an honor to be a symbol of hope for people waiting for a transplant.

More than anything, it has been a privilege to live out God’s message of love. It feels so good to have actually lived what God calls us to. As the Jesuits like to say: “Men (and women) for and with others.” This has given my life purpose and meaning.

So many people have said to me that they would have never been able to do this. But I know differently. There isn’t anything special about me, only that I was open to hearing God’s call and prayed for the faith to act on it.

My three children have been troupers during this experience. They didn’t really miss a beat. But, every once in awhile, I get a glimpse of how proud they are of me. Seeing Mom in the newspaper was exciting, but I see how thrilled they are when their teacher or basketball coach tells me how I have inspired them or how I am their hero. It is my hope that they will have learned compassion and patience through this journey.

It has been an honor and privilege to donate my kidney to a stranger (though she’s not a stranger any longer!)

– Amy Maliborski

Thanks, Amy!