So you are thinking of donating your kidney to a family member, friend or stranger? You are probably feeling nervous and indeed need to take the decision slowly and carefully together with your family and your doctors and after having done a lot of your own research to understand the risks and rewards of this important decision. This provides a starting point for information on this topic after which you must conduct your own research and make your own decision without being pressurised from anybody.
You can make a difference.
Become a donor today.
Q? What do kidneys do?
The main role of kidneys is to keep the make-up of the blood stable by preventing the build-up of wastes and extra fluids in the body.The kidneys also keep levels of electrolytes stable, such as sodium, potassium and phosphate as well as making hormones that help regulate blood pressure.The kidneys filter about 190 litres of fluids every 24 hours, removing waste and excess fluids from the body in the form of urine.
The tiny filtering units in the kidney are called glomeruli and one interesting thing about them is that they are very efficient which means the body only needs about 25% of its glomeruli. This is the reason why a person only needs one kidney to be functioning effectively to be healthy
Q? What is kidney disease?
There are different causes of kidney injury which can affect the functioning of the kidneys. These are beyond the scope of this pamphlet. However, when the kidneys become damaged waste products are not cleaned properly from the blood and build up in the blood. If left untreated kidney disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition..
Q? What is dialysis?
There are different forms of dialysis but the most common form is haemodialysis. Two needles are inserted near the patient’s wrist, one to remove blood to a machine that cleanses it and one to return the clean blood to the patient’s body. The machine performs the job of cleaning the blood in place of the kidneys.
Q? Why can’t a patient live on dialysis forever?
Dialysis is very disruptive for a patient’s lifestyle with a patient typically requiring 3 or 4 hours treatment three times a week. The patient’s diet and fluid intake are restricted. In addition, patients on dialysis for long periods typically have ten times the mortality rate than the general population. Patients who receive a kidney transplant are free from the burden of routine dialysis treatments. In addition, they usually have fewer health problems, have an improved quality of life and their risk of death is lower than that of dialysis.
Q? Why can’t the patient wait for a kidney from a deceased person?
Firstly there are simply not enough opportunities where the medical requirements for harvesting a kidney from a deceased person in such a way that the kidney can be transplanted are met. This means currently the need for kidneys is simply not being met. Even where the requirements are met, for medical reasons, the transplant needs to be done quickly meaning the testing and transplant are rushed. This is not so where the kidney donation is from a living person meaning that the process is naturally more thorough. Studies show that the success rate of a kidney donated from a living donor are higher than where a kidney is obtained from a deceased person.
Q? Why become a donor?
Donating a kidney to another person is a lifesaving act and far too many people die while waiting for a kidney donation from a deceased person.The need for kidneys far exceeds what is being met and unless the number of altruistic donors increases people will continue to die whilst waiting for kidneys from a deceased person.
In Jewish thought one of the noblest goals a person can do is to save another person’s life. As the famous teaching says – whoever saves a single life saves an entire universe. Donating a kidney to a family member, friend or stranger is indeed an extraordinary act.This is the calling to donate – to rise above the mundane, reach out and give of your life 2 save a life.
Take a few minutes to watch a short inspiring video by visiting:
Q? What is the risk of donating a kidney?
To quote medical statistics and literature in detail is beyond the scope of this pamphlet and you need to consult with your medical practitioner and experts in the field to fully understand the risks. In brief these involve the risk of undergoing an anaesthetic and major surgery. However, it should be noted that medical practitioners consider kidney donation as a relatively low level of medical risk for a healthy donor.The greatest emotional risk for a donor is that the kidney will be rejected by the recipient’s body. Despite the relatively low risk of this due to rigorous testing – this can happen.
Q? Will I live a normal life afterwards?
Studies which followed living donors for over 20 years showed that there are no greater longer term health risks for kidney donors.The remaining kidney will compensate and takes over the function of the donated kidney.Studies have also shown that kidney donors are at no greater risk of developing kidney failure after donation than anyone in the general population. In short, a kidney donor should lead a normal and healthy life as before./p>
Q? What tests do I need to go through before donating?
The tests are rigorous and include firstly a blood type testing as only specific blood types can donate to other blood types.An HLA cross match test uses blood from the recipient which is mixed with white blood cells from the potential donor to check for pre-formed antibodies. If these are present they can immediately destroy the kidney and positive “cross-match” prevents the donation.Next a tissue type or HLA type is performed using donor blood to test for six proteins called HLA Antigens. The more proteins match the better the chance of success.
In addition to the above the donor must go through rigorous medical and psychological testing to ensure that they are both in excellent physical and mental health before the donation.
Q? Suppose I decide against being a donor?
You have the right to withdraw your offer at any time and you would be supported in your decision by Life2Life and the transplant team.
We hope this pamphlet has provided you with some basic and interesting information regarding kidney donation. A number of further on-line resources are set out below for you to continue on your investigative journey of deciding whether or not to donate a kidney.
Here is a list of websites you can visit for more insight:
https://www.youtube.com- Lloyd E. Ratner, M.D., the Director of Renal and Pancreatic Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City discusses kidney transplants. The video offers detailed information about having a kidney transplant.