IT IS NOT OFTEN THAT ONE ACTUALLY HAS THE ABILITY TO STEP FORWARD AND SAVE A LIFE.
Most of us simply prefer not to think about illness and try to put it out of our minds. Out of sight, out of mind. Unfortunately, for me and my husband, Eric (Grove), it’s just not that easy.
Eric and I met some fifteen years ago. He had lost his wife to cancer a few years earlier but was eager to move forward by finding a new life partner, starting a family and sharing the joys of life together. In early 2015, however, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease which is now taking its toll on both our lives. Unlike many other diseases where pharmaceutical or surgical treatments are possible, people suffering from chronic kidney disease are truly dependent on the kindness and courage of others through a living donor transplant.
Prior to the onset of his disease, Eric was employed in the financial services industry as Vice President with a large financial institution. He holds an MBA and Chartered Financial Analyst designations and had a promising future. Since then, however, he has had to cease working as a result of his illness. He has modified his diet and maintains a daily regimen of medications to slow the progression of his disease.
According to his nephrologist, transplant is the optimal course of treatment for patients with advanced kidney disease. Finding a living donor is the best-case scenario to continue living a healthy life. And while I did step up as a potential kidney donor and underwent all the various tests, it was with tremendous disappointment after the last test that we just learned that my anatomy excludes me as a kidney donor. Eric is only 58 years of age, we have no children, nor does he have any other family members eligible to donate a kidney.
Our hope is to find a living donor while his physicians feel that he is still medically suitable to undergo the procedure. Although he is not currently at end stage, it has been suggested that we line up a donor for a potential transplant down the road. The organ wait list for deceased donor kidney could be a possible 10+ year wait and he would only go on that list after having started kidney dialysis. The goal is to identify a living donor in order to avoid the lower quality and shorter longevity of life associated with both dialysis and a deceased donor kidney.
You might not know a lot about living donation — I know I didn’t before kidney disease affected my life. Understandably, some people are afraid about the surgery and what living with one kidney will mean for them. Here’s some basic information about kidney donation:
- The tests for compatibility are simple, non-invasive and not very time consuming
- One only needs one kidney to live a healthy, long life.
- Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, meaning through tiny incisions.
- The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally 4 to 6 weeks.
- As a donor, one will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for YOUR best interests.
While Eric has been extremely private about this challenge, I fear that we no longer have that luxury.