Monday, June 28, 2010

may the testing begin...

My decision to become a living kidney donor gives me the option to donate to a specific individual that I may personally know (whom I might be a match for) or, be a non-directed donor to a recipient that would essentially be a stranger. My hopes are that I might be a candidate for a never ending altruistic donation. It appears complicated at first, but if you view this short animated diagram, it explains in simple detail exactly how this donation chain happens. If it’s possible to donate to one recipient and allow an opportunity from that transplant to set off many others, I would be crazy not to be a part of something that could help so many others. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Cara was an altruistic donor that set off one of these chains. At this point in my journey I have no way of knowing if this will be a possibility for me as well, but I am hoping and praying that this opportunity becomes available.

Having made the decision to be a non-directed donor, my next step was to complete a Medical Certification Form from the National Kidney Registry. This form features the many blood tests, and a 24-hour urine test, that I must have completed by my primary physician here in town. I made the appointment to visit my doctor immediately after downloading the form. I remember telling my doctor “Please don't think I'm crazy but I have something to tell you.” I shared with him my desire to be a part of this process and was curious to get some feedback and opinions from him as to what his thoughts were. He expressed his support, and I was back in his office on May 11 to complete the blood work.

Along with the blood work required for this initial basic set of tests, is a 24-hour urine capture. What? I know, that’s what I said. Bottom line is that for a 24-hour period, I have to save all my urine and keep it refrigerated, right next to my eggs and milk. I needed to pick up the container at another office and was a bit surprised when they handed me what seemed to be no more than a quart-sized container. I looked at the nurse and laughed and said, “oh, that won’t do, I will need at least 2 of those.” The last thing I wanted was to be without a container after filling one jug and having to reach for a half-empty pickle jar to complete the test. Well, I can say that upon completion of this fun test, I barely filled 1/4 of one of the jugs. What the hell was I thinking, being all Superwoman-like, as if my urine was all powerful and so strong! I’m sure a Yoo-Hoo jar would have been sufficient.

I received a phone call from my physician on May 17 with some positive results from all my tests and felt relieved that he didn’t find any red flags that might eliminate me at this stage. At this point in my process, I was put in contact with an administrative coordinator, Diane, at the National Kidney Registry. Diane was my liaison with the NKR to ensure that my paperwork was being received and evaluated. She was extremely helpful in answering more questions I had about the process and also filled me in some more on the actual surgery, should I be considered as a donor. On May 25, the NKR still had yet to receive my blood work results and I was growing impatient. I called my doctor and asked the secretary to fax ME the results and I would then forward them to the appropriate department at NKR. On May 26, I received an email from Diane confirming the paperwork was received. Now I had to wait for their medical board to review the results. Tick, tock, tick, tock....

On June 3, I received an email from Diane stating that the medical board had reviewed my results and everything looked good! I almost peed my pants!! I was so relieved, excited, anxious and happy. From the beginning of my contact with Diane I had discussed my wish to have my surgery with the team at Weill-Cornell. Diane then put me in contact with a Transplant Assistant with Weill-Cornell who would be handling my case with the team there. After exchanging some emails and a phone call with Julie, I requested a date to go to New York to begin my tests and be evaluated as a potential kidney donor. On July 13, at 9am I will begin what will be approximately 8 hours of medical tests and a psychiatric exam. I can’t remember a time when I have been this excited to visit a doctor!

Until next time... it's summer, don't deprive yourself of one of life's simplest of pleasures - ice cream!