Sunday, December 5, 2010

You've Asked, I'll Answer

As more people becoming aware of that I am doing, more questions seem to be coming up.  I think this is great as I am a big believer that knowledge reduces worry/fear and brings understanding and acceptance. So here are answers to just a few of the questions I have received:

Why are you doing this?
This is a big one. I don't really have a solid "two line" answer.  Its a good thing to do and I am in both a healthy and genetically safe place to do it.  If the transplant I take part in works (which there is a 95% chance of), I am saving a life.  I am also dramatically improving the quality of life for that person, giving them and their families a better day to day. So its quantity and quality thing!

Why help a stranger?
Another common one. In Ontario as of  March 31, 2009, the waiting lists for organ transplants totaled 1,667. The large majority were for kidney transplants (1,185), followed by liver (306), lung (64), heart (48), kidney- pancreas (37), pancreas (22), small bowel (four), and heart-lung (one). The first 2 groups can be helped by living donors in addition to cadaver donation (although not as ideal) but if they are on the reported list, its likely they do not have a match in their family or immediate social circle. So if you look at kidneys alone, in March of 2009 almost 1200 people in Ontario alone were depending on stranger like myself to come forward or for a cadaver donation. I know if it were someone in my family waiting for help like this, I'd be hoping for someone to find it in themselves to help a stranger.

Will it affect your ability to have kids?
I am pretty sure kids aren't in the cards for me for other reasons but this is not one of them.  I could have as many as I want with one kidney.

How does the "travel to donate" thing work?
If they opt to put me on the national registry (which I suspect they will want to due to my blood type), I may be matched with someone from another city/province and I would have to travel there. They schedule transplants every three months right now and I'd have at least a months notice of the actual surgery date. Not every hospital does transplants so it would likely occur at a major centre in Toronto, Vancouver, Halifax, Montreal etc. There are smaller centres in places like London, Lethbridge that do perform transplants but they likely wouldn't send me there. This is because the hospitals are smaller, making it harder to keep my identity and the recipient's anonymous which apparently is a must for the program before the operation.  Travel costs would be reimbursed by the Kidney Foundation of Alberta and some charities may also chip in assistance with things like flights, transportation etc. The program is very new so there are a lot of pilot programs that aren't "absolutes" for every case and may depend on timing and geography. Bottom line though is I wouldn't be out the money it costs to travel. I also wouldn't have to be in a strange city longer than about a week either (I know earlier in the process I was worried about a 3 week "no fly" rule"-apparently that's more if I was heading back to India or Germany or something)

Will you get to meet the recipient?
Before the operation no. I wont even get details on him or her. This is to stop me from changing my mind because of a preconceived idea I might have about who should get my kidney.  In other words I have to be just as OK with a 60 year old single man getting it as a 30 year old married mother with 5 kids. However they have told me that if after I am curious about who they are or if the surgery worked, they could shared some information as long as all parties agree. It sounds like its similar to my adoption search where I could opt to share as much or as little as possible and/or we could exchange a letter through the donor program or meet if all parties were willing.

More to come I am sure...

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