I’ve tried to compile some answers to the most frequently asked questions about kidney disease and organ transplant. If you have a question, submit it via the contact link or email me directly at lesleywantsyourkidney@gmail.com

What happened to you? Why did you get sick? I was born with an autosomal recessive disease that prevented my kidneys from forming correctly. This means that my parents both carried the disease but didn’t have it themselves. Nobody did anything wrong or did anything to cause this… just good old genetic luck! My kidneys have been slowly deteriorating over the course of my lifetime, however it has advanced quickly in the last 2-3 years.

What happens if you don’t get a living kidney donor? I will remain on dialysis until I can receive a deceased donor. This means I will be hooked up to a machine for several hours multiple days per week to have my blood cleaned. If my blood is not cleaned, I will not live. The longer a person is on dialysis, the more chance there is for other conditions to develop because dialysis is difficult on the body, essentially doing in a few hours what a person’s kidney does 24 hours a day 7 days per week

Can a person live with only one kidney? Absolutely! A person can live a completely normal healthy life with only one kidney. In fact, there are some people who are born with only one kidney and never have any problems!

I don’t know my blood type, can I still be tested to donate? Yes! All you need to do is call 800-333-9013 and speak with a coordinator. They will handle the rest! I am blood type A+, so I am able to accept an organ donation from an A type or an O type.

I’m not the same blood type, can I still donate? Yes! If you can’t donate directly to me, you may be able to take part in a “paired” donation. This means that you would donate to another person who also has a donor that is not a match for them, and then their donor would donate to me. Think of it kind of like a kidney swap

What is the surgery like? What about recovery time? Most of the time, the kidney can be removed by a laparoscopic procedure, which means they use 4 tiny incisions and long instruments (sometimes even a robot helps, cool right?) so there isn’t a lot of scarring and recovery is shorter. Average recovery time is around 6-8 weeks but varies from person to person.

I don’t have health insurance, can I still donate? Yes! The hospital will cover all of your medical testing related to the donation process, and the recipient (that’s me!) insurance will pay for the donation surgery. All you have to cover is time off of work and travel to/from appointments

What kind of tests will be done? As a donor you will go through a series of physical and mental health reviews. You’ll have some blood drawn, a chest x-ray and an echo cardiogram to check your lungs and heart. You’ll meet with a social worker and also have a kidney function test where they will measure how much fluid you take in against how much you out put (yes, they measure your PEE!!)

Can I still drink alcohol? Yes! Alcohol is metabolized through the liver, so there isn’t any reason why you still couldn’t enjoy a nice cold one (always in moderation of course), though you might have to take a break while recovering from the procedure!

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