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"I would recommend anyone straddling the fence on live donation to 'just do it.'"

Orville Lind, Living Kidney Donor, 2008

Bonnie Lind, Living Donor Kidney Recipient, 2008

Orville Lind, Living Kidney Donor & Bonnie Lind, Kidney Recipient, 2008

"I would like to address pre- and post-donation from five areas: hospital support, medical, psychological, monetary, and family.

But first, let me start with the “Bottom Line”:  I feel that I have greatly increased not only my wife’s quality of life, but mine own as well, for at least the next 20 years.  Without a doubt, I would do it again, and I would recommend anyone straddling the fence on live donation to “just do it.”  You’ll be glad you did.

Now, some background: I am 55 years old, retired from the Air Force and not working in a follow-on job, two kids (one in college and one was still in high school).  I consider myself in fairly good shape, energetic, and active.  My wife (51 years old) had inherited polycystic kidney disease (PKD) from her father.  She was being seen by the nephrology department at Wilford Hall on Lackland AFB.  She was on the verge of having to begin dialysis when the kidney surgery occurred.

Pre-Donation

Hospital Support:  We both were treated tremendously by the hospital staff.  We remarked several times that we felt like we were being treated like the only patients the hospital had.

Medical: The amount of medical testing that I went through before I was cleared for the donation surgery made me feel extremely confident that there would be no ill effects of that surgery on me.  It was very apparent that the hospital would not allow me to donate if there was any chance that I might have some sort of medical problem during or after the surgery.  I believe all those considering donation can rest easy that they must be very healthy and, more importantly, will remain healthy after the surgery.  The hospital is looking after you as closely, if not more, than the person to whom you are donating.

Psychological: This was the easiest part for me.  I was convinced it was the right thing to do.  The hospital staff did not try to convince me to donate and gave me many chances to opt out of the surgery. 

Monetary: We had very good insurance that covered all facets of the surgery and care. 

Family:  We talked the surgery and the recovery over with our family.  The statistics show that it is normally a very successful surgery, so our children were feeling comfortable with the operations.  Our daughter was still in high school.  Since we were both going to be in the hospital at the same time, we needed a family to take care of our daughter for the several days that we were hospitalized.  After that was worked out,  we could rest assured that our family was taken care .

Post-Donation

Hospital Support: The kidney recipient receives the bulk of the medical attention, understandably.  But the staff and doctors are intensely interested in the donor’s well-being.  

Medical:  I felt very poorly the first two days after the surgery.  I was not really in much pain; rather I felt extremely tired and uncomfortable.  Then, like magic, on about the third day, my appetite came back and I started to feel better—little by little.  I was still tired.  A short walk around the ward with my wife would just about wipe me out physically.

Psychological:  It was very pleasant to feel myself getting better almost on a daily basis.  Every day, I could do a little more that the day before.  My wife improved faster that I did.  But I was back to playing golf and feeling almost 100% at about 8 weeks.

Monetary:  I have not gone back to a paying job since my retirement.  Having said that, I felt I could have gone back to a “desk” job about two and a half to three weeks after the surgery. However I believe that, even with a desk job, I would have been fairly tired at the end of the day.  I could do more physical labor (mowing the lawn, cleaning roof gutters) after about three to four weeks.

Family: Our daughter was able to help immensely after we returned from the hospital. It was a little tough on both my wife and me to get around, so having someone to do the shopping and the chores around the house was very convenient.  Our daughter is very proud of her involvement in our recovery.  My wife is not “tethered” by dialysis requirements and she is feeling the best she has felt in many years.  I feel just as strong now, both mentally and physically, as I did before the surgery.  I feel confident that my wife and I can take full advantage of being retired…the travel, enjoying the spontaneity of simple events such as shopping, dining, or going to a movie---all without the encumbering disadvantages of dialysis."

 
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