Your gift will save my life.
As a person with kidney failure, I have three options for treatment: dialysis, a transplant from a deceased person, or a transplant from a living person. Dialysis is only a temporary solution - it is not a cure. Transplantation from a deceased donor is a preferred alternative, but the number of donated organs is not keeping up with demand. More than 90,000 people in the United States are waiting for a transplant. With estimated wait times for a deceased donor transplant of at least six years, I may die before a new organ becomes available. By donating a kidney, you can help change those odds and save my life.
New minimally invasive approaches make it easier for donors to recover. New surgical techniques allow doctors to remove a kidney using smaller incisions than ever before. Today's living donors are usually out of the hospital within two days and back to work within a minimum of two weeks.
Even if you are not a match, you can still donate
on my behalf. This is because of paired-kidney
exchanges - an intricate process of mixing and
matching recipients and their donors in an
ever-widening pool until the right pairings are
found. While that means your kidney may go to
a stranger, your donation assures that I get a new
You can live a long and normal life with only one
kidney. Prior to your donation, you will receive
a thorough medical exam by Piedmont Hospital's
Transplant team to evaluate your overall health
and look for any unknown problems. Piedmont's
transplant team wants to protect your health too!
You don't have to be an exact blood match with me.
Some organs are so close to being a match that doctors
can use innovative techniques to decrease the likelihood
of rejection. "Close enough" is better than having to live
with diseased kidneys!
For more information on living donation, the United Network for Organ Sharing is an excellent resource, as well as these websites: www.livingdonorsonline.org, www.livingkidneydonorsearch.com, National Kidney Foundation and www.OrganDonation.gov.
Finding a Potential Match
Criteria have been developed to ensure that all people on the national donor waiting list are judged based on the severity of their illness and the urgency oi receiving a transplant.
Piedmont Transplant shares patient need data and conditions with The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the agency responsible for transplant organ distribution in the United States.
After you decide to donate a kidney, the Piedmont Transplant Institute team will verify whether your blood type is compatible with mine via two blood tests:
One to determine your blood type (ABO).
Another to classify your tissue (HLA) and determine how closely it matches my tissue. If you are a compatible match, you will be scheduled for a two-day outpatient donor evaluation at the hospital.
The Transplant Evaluation
When you arrive for the evaluation, you will have routine blood tests and be asked to give a urine sample. Other tests are:
Chest X-ray to evaluate your chest and lungs,
Electrocardiogram (EKG) to test your heart function,
Renal scan (Glo-Fil) to measure how your kidneys filter your blood.
Computed tomography (CT) scan to examine the anatomy of your kidneys (this helps determine if you are a good candidate for a laparoscopic - or minimally invasive - kidney removal).
The Transplant team will meet to review your tests and determine if you're healthy enough to undergo surgery. The surgeon will review the technical aspects of the procedure, possible complications, and the expected recovery after donation. You will also have an opportunity to discuss any questions you may have and speak with a psychiatrist about the emotional aspect of donation.
After receiving approval from the transplant team, you should talk with your loved ones and decide if kidney donation is right for you, your family and me.
Now a new procedure allows kidney transplants from any donor. In the anguishing wait for a new kidney, me and tens of thousands of patients on waiting lists may never find a match because our immune systems will reject almost any transplanted organ. Now, in a large national study that experts are calling revolutionary, researchers have found a way to get us the desperately needed procedure. In the new study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors successfully altered patients' immune systems to allow them to accept kidneys from incompatible donors. Significantly more of those patients were still alive after eight years than patients who had remained on waiting lists or received a kidney transplanted from a deceased donor.
The method, knows as desensitization, "has the potential to save many lives," said Dr. Jeffery Berns, a ki8dney specialist at the university of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and the president of the National Kidney Foundation.
It could slash the wait times for thousands of people and for some, like Clint Smith, a 56-year-old lawyer in New Orleans, mean the difference between receiving a transplant and spending the rest of our lives on dialysis.
Researches estimate about half of the 100,000 people in the U.S. on waiting lists for a kidney transplant have antibodies that will attack a transplanted organ, and about 20% are so sensitive that finding a compatible organ is all but impossible. In addition, an unknown number of people with kidney failure simply give up on the waiting lists after learning that their bodies would reject just about any organ. Instead, they resign themselves to dialysis, a difficult and draining procedure that can pretty much take over a person's life, as my treatments have done to me.
Desensitization involved first filtering the antibodies out of a patient's blood. The patient (that would be me) is then given an infusion of other antibodies to provide some protection while the immune system regenerates its own antibodies. For some reason - exactly why is not known - the person's regenerated antibodies are less likely to attack the new organ. But if the person's regenerated natural antibodies are still a concern, the patient is treated with drugs that destroy any white blood cells that might make antibodies that would attack the new kidney.
The process is expensive, costing $30,000 and uses drugs not approved for this purpose. The transplant costs about $100,000. But kidney specialists argue that desensitization is cheaper in the long run than dialysis, which costs $70,000 a year for life.