What is it like to be considered for a living kidney donation?
Do you know that kidney transplants don’t have to come just from deceased donors? In fact the survival rate is much higher for those patients who receive a live donation. Nor does the donation have to be an exact match. You don’t even have to know the person for a living kidney donation. If you aren’t an exact match for the person you wish to donate to, you can participate in what is called a paired exchange.
Over 96,000 people nationwide are waiting for a kidney donation. The waiting time for a deceased kidney donation is as much as five years. The good news is that live donors no longer have to be an exact match or a blood relative. If the donor has a similar blood type, age 18-70, and is in good health, that person can be considered for a kidney donation. Kidney donors live healthy lives after the transplant. The remaining kidney actually grows and will perform at 80% of normal kidney function.
I considered all these facts when I volunteered to be a kidney donor some time back for a young friend. I talked with my family and close friends as we critically considered the possibility. Ultimately I was turned down because of one small health warning sign. At the time, I was devastated. I so want to help my friend and I was willing to give to her in this way. I was certain God was calling me to do this. I still don’t understand why but I’m accepting that this is part of God’s plan for me. I am trusting He has a plan for my friend and I’m not part of that plan. When I reach Heaven’s shore, I’m confident I will understand God’s reasons and see His bigger picture.
As disappointed as I was, I wouldn’t trade those few months of deliberation for anything. It became a spiritual journey of its own. Christ’s sacrifice for me took on a whole new meaning that will forever impact my walk with Christ.
The few people I told about my decision and several medical personnel treated me like I was some kind of hero. I didn’t understand that. I didn’t want to be painted as a hero. The young lady that needed the kidney was, in my estimation, the hero. In spite of multiple illnesses, she persisted in receiving an advanced college degree. Nightly, she hooked herself up to a home dialysis unit. Daily, she went to work. Of anyone I knew, this young newly married lady had her life before her. She deserved a kidney. It was the least I could do for her.
One day I told my husband, if I did end up donating my kidney, what answer could I give those who wanted to tell me how wonderful I was? “I’m not so wonderful,” I said. “If it was anyone other than our friend, would I be so sacrificial?”
“Probably not,” my husband answered. “You wouldn’t do it for a homeless derelict who wouldn’t bother putting his life back together afterwards, would you?”
I hated to admit he was right. I wasn’t that altruistic. I choked up. “But that’s what Jesus did.”
- I’m not the perfect transplant donor.
- I’m willing to donate to a friend – Jesus died for sinners
- I’m willing to give to a nice lady – Jesus died for wicked people (Romans 5:8)
- I’m willing to give a kidney and the world is amazed – Jesus gave his life.
- I can only give to one person – Jesus died for many.
- My health issue prevents me from donation – Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.
No. I’m not wonderful at all. I am so far from what Jesus is. That makes me appreciate what he did for me, for the whole world, so much more.
Living kidney donations are still are a marvelous thing. If you are between the ages of 18-70 and in good health (no cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or kidney disease), please consider kidney donation. Contact the National Kidney Foundation or your local transplant center. Often, your insurance won’t have to pay a penny and the recovery period is only a few short months out of your life. It’s a small price to pay so someone else can have the gift of years.