The Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute stresses the importance of those people willing to donate kidneys to people on the transplant list. The values are many. The success rate of transplants are higher with kidneys from live donors. People on the transplant list also need not wait sometimes for years for a transplant. Even if the donor doesn't match the recipient's blood or tissue type, there are methods of donating to someone else in exchange for the person of interest receiving, in turn, a kidney of matchiong blood and tissue type from another donor. In other words, I'll take the kidney from your donor, and you can have the kidney from my donor. There are all kinds of variations on this theme with the idea to get as many good, healthy kidneys to people requiring transplants as feasible in a world where the supply of organs are, as Dr. Starzl himself said, "precious."
As the transplantation institute handbook says, "the organ shortage is the reason why patients must wait so long for tranplants. Although you may sometimes feel helpless, you can actually do a lot to help promote awareness of the organ shorage and increase organ donations.
The first successful living donor transplant was performed between identical twins in 1954, the institute notes. Since then, more than 6,300 living donor transplants have been performed.
"With more than 100,000 people currently waiting for tranpslants in the United States, the need for donor organs is far greater than the supply. Living donation offers an alternative for individuals awaiting tranplantation.
Parents, children, brothers, sisters, and other relatives may be eligible to donate organs to family members. Unrelated donors -- spouses, closefriends and anonymous individuals -- also may donate their organs if they are a match for the candidates and the transplant hospital approves.
I was discussing this with another tranplant recipient who had a sibling donate a kidney 31 years ago. His kidney function remains at an enviable level, with no signs of decline. So the value of a donor kidney has a proven track record. And the donor never suffered ill effects, and rather felt good about the dcision..
The most passionate speech during the kidney evaluation came from UPMC officials working to convince people to find someone -- family members or friends -- willing to serve as a living donor. People need only one kidney to survive, and while all surgeries bear some risk, most people who donate a kidney fully recover.
There's no pressure to find a live donor, but there is plenty of pointed encouragement from the transplant team to find a living donor.
But there's also a push to get all healthy people simply to agree in advance, with notation on their driver's license, for example, to donate organs and tissue in the event of their untimely death. The institute says two simple steps make a lifesaving difference.
Step One: Share your life. Make the decisioin to become an organ and tissue donor.
Step Two: Sharing your decision with others to be an organ and tissue donor is as important as making the decision itself. Carrying out your wish to save other lives can bring your family members great comfort in their time of grief.
Donations make the transplant world go round.
In coming blogs, I will discuss my own situation involving live kidney donors.