Last week was the first local NC WELD (as in Women Encouraging Living Donation) meeting of the year, and I’d looked forward to seeing the Triangle group again. The last meeting, held at my house in May, featured two Duke transplant surgeons. Unfortunately, September’s meeting drew a very small group. We met at the home of executive director Deanna Kerrigan (formerly, Mitchell) and caught up on summer travels and donation advocacy activities (yes, they knew about my National Kidney Foundation Kidney Advocacy Committee approval!) over yummy mini-pizzas and brownies. Most of all, we brainstormed ways to spread the word about living donation and, specifically, the WELD Triangle group, with information packets for prospective donors, flyers at transplant centers, and lots more.
Building a new group in a region takes time, passion, and commitment. WELD will get there one living donor at a time. Happy to be part of the effort! Looking forward to a full house next time.
This week Betsy Crais and I spoke at another terrific Living Donor Champion workshop. I’ve written about the one we did in the spring at UNC Transplant Center plus the National Kidney Foundation’s Big Ask, Big Give in June at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC.
It’s funny that I’m starting to feel so comfortable at these valuable events. As I told the group, I used to be intimidated by the very heavy subject of kidney transplant and donation and doubted that I could possibly add to the discussion–until I realized that just sharing my own story and my perspective was valuable. How could I have forgotten how comforting it feels to talk to someone who’s been through the experience for people who are overwhelmed, confused, and no doubt frightened? Now that I have a few years of research in connection with our book on the subject plus submersion in the kidney support community as we expand our advocacy efforts, I feel even more equipped to talk about all this.
We met a family there from Raleigh—the husband was in need of a kidney, and his 20-something daughter had just surprised him with the news that she was testing to be his donor. I could feel their excitement and knew that this step has a huge impact on the entire family. I told them about my website, of course, and urged their daughter to contact me if she has any questions or just wants to talk about it. [If she’s made her way to this post, I hope she knows I meant it!]
Wishing all the attendees
good luck on this very special, intense journey!
I just discovered an embarrassing glitch (aka technological error) in this brief post, so I’ve corrected it and reposted.
There are still many myths about what’s involved in donating a kidney, and here are a few. I first included these in an article in 2017 and have already needed to update a couple of them because many aspects of the process have gotten easier. How many of the questions can you answer correctly?
True or False: The surgeon removes a rib to get to the donor’s kidney.
False: Thanks to minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery (the standard of care), I had two tiny slits and a three-inch bikini incision.
True or False: Donors must be young.
False: More than a third of living kidney donors are over 50. It’s the health of the kidney–plus the donor’s overall health–that counts. I was 58 when I donated mine.
True or False: Donors stay in the hospital for a few weeks.
False: A typical stay is now 1 or 2 days.
True or False: Donors need to miss work for 3 to 6 months.
False: I could have gone back to my sedentary job as an editor in 2 or 3 weeks. A laborer might need a couple of months.
True or False: There’s no turning back.
False: You can change your mind at any point. My transplant nurse coordinator, social worker, psychologist, nephrologist, and transplant surgeon all assured me that I could. My son would be told only that I had been eliminated.