Hello everyone. My name is Lynne and I want to share my story as an altruistic kidney donor.
My husband was born with polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and so he has known for quite some time that he would probably be on dialysis at some point would likely need a kidney transplant. In 2019, this possibility became a reality and he was on peritoneal dialysis for several months.
In the process of seeking a kidney donor, through social media contacts, we discovered that one of our son’s prom date from seven years ago volunteered to give my husband a kidney.
I was stunned and grateful and I knew that I wanted to pay the gift of life forward. I experienced firsthand how life changing and health restoring her gift had been to my husband. I knew it would be a relatively small inconvenience for me, but a huge gift of life to whomever got the new kidney. I also knew that a kidney from a living donor is the optimal transplant, one that would add years to the recipient’s life, above and beyond a cadaver kidney. So, as my husband recovered from his surgery, I was wondering about how I would go about deciding where, when, and to whom I could donate a kidney. As I interacted with other volunteers at the Kidney Foundation of Central PA, I met a dialysis patient who shared my blood type. I felt guided by some intangible feeling that she was the right person. So, I decided to trust my intuition and pursue the path. She mentioned that she was on the transplant list at Johns Hopkins and I said I was willing to be tested as a donor and I started the process.
Although I had only met her once at a KFCP event and she was practically a stranger, I felt an instant connection and determination to help her if I could. After initial blood tests, I was invited to Johns Hopkins for a full day of evaluation. I had x-rays, more blood tests, interviews with a nephrologist, social worker, and psychiatrist. Because I was donating to somebody who is not related to me, I had to go to the psychiatrist to establish the motivation for my decision. The social worker and psychiatrist both noted that I mentioned “social justice” as part of what motivated me to donate and as a social worker myself, I wanted my kidney to go to a person from an underserved population, who statistically was less likely to obtain a kidney. I passed all my tests with flying colors and a few weeks later in Harrisburg I underwent a test to assess my filtration rate. My kidneys were in great shape, so the date was set for March 9, 2020. We are fortunate to be were scheduled by that date, because kidney transplants, along with other elective surgeries, were being cancelled due to the pandemic. In fact, my follow up appointment with the surgeon a week after the transplant was cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19. It has taken almost a month for the wounds on my abdomen to heal up. I have done well and have experienced nothing but happiness about my decision to donate a kidney.
It was one of the best decisions I will likely ever make!
Lynne Wright, MSW, LSW
The Kidney Foundation of Central PA