Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Mother's Gift: Living Kidney Donation

This spring I was fortunate enough to give my son a gift that gives him another chance for a healthy life.  I became a living kidney donor.

Iggy, my 26 year old son, a recent college grad with a great job, a wonderful girlfriend, and a promising future - was in kidney failure.  He needed to spend 12 hours a week on dialysis to stay alive.  His condition would continue to deteriorate until he could get a new kidney.  I found it heart breaking. 

We were informed there are 114,000  candidates in the USA waiting for a kidney from a deceased donor with a wait time of 2-4 years (UNOS.org).  He had fought so many health battles in the past it just didn't seem fair.  I volunteered to donate my kidney to him.  We were disheartened to find out I wasn't a match.

Our hope was restored when the transplant team at The Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, told us a paired exchange donation could be facilitated by entering the National Kidney Registry.  I would offer to donate my kidney to another individual in need of a kidney who wasn't a match with their potential donor. 

The NKR uses a computer program to match incompatible pairs of kidney donor- recipients with other incompatible kidney donor-recipients until compatible matches are found.  The wait time is usually only a few months for compatible pairs to be found.  In our case it took 5 months, a chain of  5 donors recipients and two hospitals to make it work. 

All the surgeries happened simultaneously to ensure all the recipients were provided the promised kidney.  Eric received the kidney from a 43 year old wife of a kidney recipient.  My kidney went to a 55 year old husband and father. 

Well that was 2 months ago.  I am pretty much recovered and feeling well. I have even started riding my bike again. I have one more month of activity restrictions before I can resume all my usual activities.  Iggy now has a bright future.  He looks the healthiest and happiest I have seen him in years.  I am grateful to his donor, to the NKR, B&W and Mass General Transplant Teams, and everyone else who made this life changing gift possible.


Jo, Iggy, and Sue

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