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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Man in the Lab

This blog will be posted some time after it was written due to an outside directive to not talk about my living donor experience until after I have donated.  If you are reading this, it is because I have completed the donation process.
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May 18, 2011

As I mentiond before, while a virtual match has been made with my recipient, they of course want to do an official crossmatch test to ensure that Leftie will be well suited for his new home. So off I went (again) to share more blood. I picked up my form at the transplant clinic and headed down to the lab.

As I waited to hand in my form at the window, I reviewed it (as I have all my other forms).  This form was different and was specifically for crossmatch tests and looked to cover kidney, liver and bone marrow transplants. Each section was based on organ type and had an area listing both donor and recipient tests. I, of course, had the donor test checked off. As I was reviewing the forms the receptionist from the clinic came down with another stack of forms.  I made eye contact thinking I had perhaps they had forgotten to give me some other tests (wouldn't be the first time right?) but instead she peeked into the test room and handed the forms to someone in there.

It was then my turn at the check in window. The lab staff reviewed my form, my health card and gestured towards the room across the hall. This lab is different than most in the city where you wait till your name is called and they usher you into a private room the size of a broom closet. At this lab instead they have a larger room that has about 6-8 chairs set up throughout, facing all different directions with a little side table next to each. There is no rhyme or reason to which one you sit in and they don't seem to care. I've tried to sit in a different one each time just to see if my "view" of things changes. It's also kind of neat because you can usually tell exactly how long you will have to wait based on the number of technicians in the room drawing blood and the number of people who were already in chairs when you got there (plus or minus a patient who may be in the washroom). This time around there was an older lady and a middle aged gentlemen.  I sat to the left of the gentleman.

As I was getting settled with my coat and purse, the gentleman was beginning the blood draw process with his technician. He stated his name and date of birth as per the protocol. I noticed that he had a stack of test papers in front of him-it was he that the receptionist from the clinic must have brought the papers to. I couldn't help but notice that he has the same crossmatch form as I did on top of the papers.  He however had the two recipient boxes under "kidney" checked. I wondered to myself what the odds were of me sitting beside Leftie's new home. I do know that those on the transplant list have to have a crossmatch sample taken every 6 months to make sure the registry has the most up to date information on their typing. I also know (or at least think) that they would likely not schedule us to come in at essentially the same time.  However I do know that they were anxious to get the samples off to the lab by 8 AM. So was he it?

I thought about how things I've read have mentioned that part of the reason for anonymity for non-directed donors is that if we meet the donor, we might (without meaning to) judge them based on their age, how they look, their gender, their race etc. The worry is of course that the donor might say "I don't like the looks of that fellow" and then pull out of the donation because of that. I always thought that I wouldn't be that person, I wouldn't judge-but I will admit I did size the man up. But then after a few moments I found myself wondering what I was looking for exactly. He was an everyday person, nothing more, nothing less. I was indifferent. Would I be okay with him having my kidney if he were indeed the recipient? I realized (thankfully) that it really didn't matter to me what he looked like, what his situation was or his age etc. And I knew that no matter who gets it, I'm okay with the simply "giving it away" to whoever has been deemed medically most suitable.

It was one of those little tests in life that there is no way you can prepare for but its nice to know in my own way I passed. I know that odds are he had nothing to do with my donation, but it got the wheels turning for sure.

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