Recently a friend’s wife was diagnosed with kidney failure. Although she is on dialysis, she is also on a registry hoping for a donor kidney. After a few discussions and some internet research, I realised how little I know or understand about donating a kidney. How doing so could add years to a loved ones or a strangers life with little risk to myself. When someone is on dialysis and waiting for a donor kidney, they need strength and they need hope.
Here’s a few things I didn’t know and I want to share because maybe you didn’t know them either. I apologise in advance for my ignorance which may be exclusively mine.
1. It’s not true that the most best match will be from a family member. Genetic compatability is one aspect but with improved anti rejection medicines it’s very possible and often common for a friend or even a stranger to a donate.
2. Anonymity is maintained throughout the process if you wish and the recipient may never find out that you tested or if you were a match. You can start the testing process anonymously and choose not to proceed at any point.
3. The first step in finding out if you’re a match is simply to see if your blood type is a match. If it is you can move onto the next step which is a DNA match test.
4. You can choose to be tested to match for a specific person or to be added to a paired/pooled registry where your kidney will be given to someone you match with and the person you wanted to donate to will get prioritised higher on the match registry or even add your details to a general registry which commits you to nothing.
5. The path for potential donors involves not just ensuring you are physically able to donate a kidney but also emotionally prepared to do so. After you are a match you will often be assigned a counsellor to work with you on the decision to donate and the process itself. Again if you decide to stop at any point, that is entirely confidential and anonymous
If you want to know more about kidney donation and what’s involved then please take a quick look at these sites http://www.giveakidney.org/ and https://www.kidneyresearchuk.org/health-information/living-donor-transplantation
To register as an organ donor or a living kidney donor in the UK please read this NHS site https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk