I talked to my sister on the phone the other day, and I told her that I was getting tested to see if I can be a kidney donor. She was not very enthusiastic, in fact she said she didn`t think it was a good idea. She had lots of questions, "What if you need your kidney? What if you get kidney disease? What if they give it to someone who doesn`t really live a good life, how would you feel about it?” Those are all good questions, questions I’ve had myself.
From what I’ve read, if you get kidney disease, it almost always affects both your kidneys anyway. If I give away one kidney and get kidney disease, it might move a bit faster, but it’s not like keeping both my kidneys would have saved me from kidney disease. The exception for that is kidney cancer, which often affects one kidney. My husband had kidney cancer, and he lost a kidney because of that. What are the chances that we would both get such a rare type of cancer?
After a fairly long discussion about why I want to do this, and some of the health questions, my sister said, "Well, Carol, just basically I care about you and I don`t want you to do anything that would compromise your health. I don`t want you to take any risks.”
I explained to her that the doctors would not allow me to do this if they thought it would compromise my health. People who donate a kidney have the same average lifespan as anyone else. But I know that there are risks with any operation. But there are risks every time I get into a car and go on the highway. There were risks when I decided to get pregnant and give birth to a baby…
That night I talked to my husband, and for the first time I heard a note of anxiety in his voice about this. “Why do you want to do this?” he asked. I explained it, and he nodded. I told him that the transplant co-ordinator said that he should come to my meeting with the doctor, because we can ask any questions we want there. I don`t want to worry him, I feel bad causing my family this worry. But hopefully when they understand the facts, it will help them. And if they understand the good that this can do, they will also get on board.