Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kidney Day

Perhaps Jessi and I will celebrate one
of these days in person
Today was a pretty Kidneyriffic day.

My kidney friend, who I haven't met but have talked a ton with online, donated her kidney to a stranger. I think I've referred to her as Jessi in this blog so we'll call her that until when/if we opt to use her real name. The important thing though is that she is doing well after surgery and everything went as expected. I can't believe how nervous I was for her.

Yesterday I woke up with a million butterflies in my stomach. At first I couldn't figure out what I was anxious about. Work? No. I mean lately its been  a circus-like environment but that wasnt it. The child? Charlie? No. I ran through the usual list of things to worry about. Everything was fine. Then I realized...I was worried/nervous/excited for Jessi. And I think a part of me was reliving the day before my surgery through her. All the thoughts, feelings, ideas and questions ran through my head...for the second time this year.

Today was no better. I was excited all over again. I was thinking about her and her recipient and how surreal things must be for them as they get suited up at the hospital and get ready for surgery. I wondered if Jessi was calm and collected or if her mind was going a mile a minute like mine had been the morning of my surgery. I wondered about her parents and boyfriend and how they felt leaving her at the hospital. I'd catch myself throughout the morning thinking about what was happening, if the surgery had started and how everyone was doing. Part of me thinks it might be a little weird pondering the fate of a stranger but at the same time I feel like I've been a part of so much of her journey thus far that this was just a natural next step. I am so glad that she made it through a-okay and that Canada has another non directed donor out there.

The next kidney moment happened today when I was poking around on Twitter (looking to see if there was a Jessi update). I noticed Alberta Health had posted a link to a story about a "transplant first" for Alberta. I opened up the link and there was Dr S and another lady from Foothills smiling in a picture talking about a chain of transplants they did back in June, kicked off by yours truly (aka as the "anonymous donor" in the story). The article is great, albeit a bit after the fact and I know Dr S. is probably thrilled it was done. I think the spirit of the article is in the right place. I do take issue with how they kept mentioning the "anonymous" factor. Non-directed living donation CAN be anonymous but I'm not convinced it has to be, especially after the fact. The anonymity label also worries me a bit if it leads to irrational hospital procedures like the lockdown "you do not exist as a patient" policy Foothills put me through. Thankfully despite her non-directed status, Jessi is not going through the same thing where she is donating-they have her in with the other renal patients being cared for my nurse and doctors who are used to treating post donation and transplant patients. And she isn't a secret patient.

I hope the press release gets the living donor program more attention. It seems like the more the word gets out there, the more people step forward to be tested. I do think that the stories featured in and on the news of people waiting for kidneys or people who have opted to donate a kidney help more than hospital written stories. The difference is definitely the people factor. When you see pictures of people involved, you can relate to them. You can put yourself in the position of their families. And you want to help them. Or in the case of donors, you look at what they've done and think "I could do that-they are no different than me".

A couple of other Kidney related things happened as well today but I'll keep those under my hat for now. There are a lot of rules and guidelines and secrets in this world of kidney disease and kidney donation and I don't want to rock the boat for anyone awaiting transplantation or donation.