Thursday, May 27, 2010

10 Astounding Facts About Jon's Kidney Transplant

May 27, 2010

After a lifetime of chronic kidney disease, kidney failure and 26 months of dialysis, I received a life saving kidney transplant on May 10, 2010.   

This amazing opportunity for me to live a second life is all due to the generosity of an anonymous living donor.  Anonymous living donor!?!  Yes, this is as extraordinary as it sounds.

Here  are 10 astounding facts to help you understand the rarity and true selflessess of this living donor.
  1. There are an estimated 16,000 kidney transplants in the U.S. each year.  The vast majority of kidneys come from deceased donors.  Around 6,000 living donors direct their kidney to a family member or friend.  
  2. Only 100 or so donations come from anonymous altruistic living donors. 
  3. I am only the 7th person in Oregon history to receive a kidney this way.
  4. The donor kidney matched me in 3 out 6 tested antigens.  This is the same number as if a parent had donated to me.  Direct siblings only have a 1 in 4 chance of matching 6 of 6 antigens.  The national average matching number of antigens is 1.78.
  5. The two programs in Oregon who accept anonymous donations from the the Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank (PNTB) alternate.  Lucky for me, it was my program's (Legacy Transplant Services at Good Sam) turn.
  6. There were 5 deceased donor kidney transplants in the 48 hours before they called me in, clearing the way for me to pop to the top of the list.
  7. One person turned down the kidney before it was offered to me.  Why?  I will never know, but always wonder.
  8. Every effort continues to be made to protect the donor and my identities. All I know about the donor is that "she" is about my age.  I also was able to glean from the docs that she's 5'6" or less and her kidney was big and healthy.  This was fortunate because I'm a big guy at 6'7" and 220 pounds!
  9. The donor coordinators, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, surgeons and staff of Legacy Transplant Services and Good Sam have been consumate professionals.  I continue to receive the very best care imaginable.
  10. According the the surgeon and observers, my operation was textbook perfect.  As soon as the donor kidney was attached to my blood supply, it "pinked up" and "peed" right on the spot. 
  11. Bonus fact:  The picture on the right is an ultrasound of my new kidney given to me by the Good Sam ultrasound techs.  Their enthusiasm helped make my hospital recovery time fly by. 
Obviously, I am tearful, beyond grateful, overwhelmed and humbled by this gift.  I am putting together a thank you to explain to the donor my appreciation and the impact the new kidney has on me, my wife, family, friends, co-workers, and fellow poets.  My life has literally been saved and my life expectancy doubled.  My donor is my hero. 

I've expressed to the donor coordinator that I am a healthcare activist, I publish a blog, have a website and do not have any further expectations that my identity be kept a secret from the donor.  So in essence with this blog, I am coming out.   However, I have ultimate respect for the anonymity of my donor and no expectation that this person will ever reveal her identity.  I just want to honor her gift by living a good and productive life and when possible, give back to others.

That said, there are some more facts you should know:

As of 8:17 p.m. this evening, there are 85,223 people on the kidney transplant waiting list.  To date in 2010, there have been 4,282 transplants.  Of those transplants, 3,258 came from deceased donors and 1,024 from living donors.  Each day, 77 people receive the gift of life with an organ transplant.  Some people wait up to 7 years for their transplant. 19 people die each day waiting.** 

It is estimated that a kidney transplant has a postive impact of improving the life of up to 50 people.  Are you an organ donor?  Have you considered becoming a donor?  Learn more:

Have you ever dreamed of saving a life?   Does the idea of becoming an anonymous living donor intrigue you?   There is no greater or more selfless gift.  Learn more: 

**Data sources and