Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wanted Dead or Alive: A kidney donor

According to all I’ve heard a transplant preferably from a close relative & live donor is best option for replacing my ailing kidney function.

My lovely wife who by the merest chance has the same blood group has offered to be the live donor. She and I are being worked up (worked over) to see if a preemptive transplant is feasible. This is preferable to starting on dialysis and transplanting later and we've been told couples have the best outcome.

It does present me with a problem however. What if after all the pain and suffering my body rejects her kidney. How will I feel about the possible shortening of her life for no gain; more importantly how will she feel? What if it only works for a year or two before throwing in the trowel? Will it still seem worth it then; will it affect our marriage?

One always supposes it won't but that's easy to say while the event is only academic.

The test themselves are another threat. Anything wrong with either of us will kill the idea, stone cold dead in the market.

The doctors are of course looking to see if we are healthy enough to undergo the procedures but what if they find something we didn’t know about and probably don’t want to know about. I for instance might not have known about my failing kidney’s if I hadn’t been a regular blood donor. A blood pressure spike sent me to the doctor then to a heart specialist then to a kidney specialist, that spike was the only symptom I had at the time.

As of this post I’m ambivalent about the results of the work up. I hope my wife is healthy enough to donate but I’m not sure I’m prepared to take it from her. A bridge yet to be crossed - we are not there yet .

Organ rejection is another problem, and the chance of it remains as long as you have the ‘not you’ kidney embedded in you. The body’s defence forces (curiously called anti-bodies - perhaps they should be called pro-bodies) will try to exorcise the organ they see as ‘not you’ To counteract this I will have to take immuno-suppressant drugs daily which will give me ‘greater susceptibility to illnesses' as it says in my glossy "take control" brochure.

As I understand this, I’m allowing foreigners to set up an embassy within my borders and giving diplomatic immunity to anyone who comes and goes therein leaving me open to invasion.

The benefit is that life, after a successful operation and recovery period, should resume as normal. I should feel better than I have in a long time and have more energy. This I find difficult to comprehend. I don’t now, nor have I ever, felt as unwell as I’m supposed to with 17% kidney function. Apparently the slowness of the failure ( years in making - cast of one ) allows the body to adapt until it reaches a tipping point, and then suddenly you will feel very ill.

I am lucky to be ahead of the game.

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