My brother Todd has had kidney disease for most of his life. So about a year ago, he asked the family to get a simple blood test done to see if we could be potential donors. Since the wait list can be as long as 7 years, it helps to have a direct donor. It also helps to avoid the dreaded dialysis to get this done earlier.
I happened to be a match! Well, not just A match, but a “perfect match”. So not only can I donate, but his recovery time will be shorter and there is a significant reduction in the chance of rejection. This also means less drugs he will have to take!!!
So I started this quest almost 1 full year ago. Along the way there have been bumps and sidetracks, but for the most part it has been rather decent.
I will say that anyone looking to do this should be prepared to put up with some red tape and paper pushing issues. For instance, I was told by 2 of the hospitals here in town that they would not perform the 2nd round of testing. This consisted of a chest x-ray, an EKG, as well as about 9 vials of blood work and one giant container of urine(24 hours worth). The first hospital said they were afraid they would not get paid. This is ridiculous, as I had an insurance card provided by the hospital doing the transplant! That hospital then referred me to the University of Kentucky hospital. They informed me that, unless the transplant was being done there, they wouldn’t do any of the testing. They told me to just go do it at the Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis, since they were the ones doing f the transplant. I thought that was insane, so I decided to go ahead and retry the first hospital. I prayed on the way in that if this was the time God wanted this to happen he had better get me some help. It worked. It just shows that if you talk to the right person (or deity) you can get anything done.
The results from the 2nd test came back in about a week or so. I had a nice clean bill of health! Next step, schedule a trip to Indiana to meet with the fine folks at IU Hospital.
I got to meet with all kinds of people. A psychologist, a social worker, a donor advocate, and a doctor. I also got more x-rays and a CT scan.
For those of you who have never had a CT scan, I’ll try my best to describe it. They put an IV in that will inject a dye to show up on the scan. You lay down, grab ahold of a bar hanging above your head, and the table slides in and out. Sounds fun! Then they explain that the dye will give you a warm sensation and you will feel as though you need to use the restroom. Upon hearing this I think “It’s a kidney scan, so I’ll feel as though my bladder is full and need to pee. No big deal. I’ll just empty mine before the scan.” So I’m all comfortable, shorts pulled down to my mid-thigh, towel laying over my personal spot on a swinging table with a trapeze to keep my arms up above my head. Then I hear a voice say here comes the dye. It started right behind my ears, this hot, flushed feeling, then the whole back of my skull. I thought “Odd, the scan is of my kidneys, why am I warm in my head?” Then the warm moved…. down. Have you ever had diarrhea, been in a car and know it was coming, holding on for dear life that last mile. Then you finally make it home, run in, open the bathroom door, struggle with your belt. Ya know that intense feeling in your lower area through all that. That’s as close a description as I can put on it. Then, as quickly as it showed up, it was gone. The whole process took about a minute,from what I was told. Felt like about 5 if you ask me. So to say “A feeling as though you need to use the restroom” is misleading just a bit.
Then I’m told I can’t go pee until after the x-ray so that the dye stays in and they can see it on there. When it was all over, The x-ray guy let me see mine. He informed me I was going to need to pee soon and showed me a half filled bladder and more on the way! He was right, i did. For the first time ever I literally got to say I could see I needed to pee!
So now here we are. A month after my visit and our case was presented to the board. I was told that they wanted me to do just one more test. They wanted to make sure I was still nicotine free. I was a smoker for over half my life and they wanted to make sure I didn’t fall back on old habits. I took that test last Wednesday morning and the results will be back in a week. After that comes back clean, we will schedule a date for the transplant and get my brother back on the road to feeling more like himself again.