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The Importance of Organ Donation

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I've been thinking of writing this for awhile now, but never seem to come up with the courage. Now's the time I guess.

My husband is 45 and is in end-stage kidney failure. He's got a hereditary disease - polycystic kidney disease, where his kidneys develop cysts - the cysts break - then develop scar tissue - the scar tissued part of the kidney dies.

In April of this year, he started peritoneal dialysis, which allows him to dialise at home at night. He's able to work full time, and do everything he used to do, other than sit in our hot tub (because of his catheter).

The reason I'm writing this is because he, and so many others, needs a kidney. His blood type is Type "O" which sounds like a good thing, because it's universal; however, he's a universal donor, not a universal recipient. He can only receive an "O". The Rh factor (+ or -) doesn't matter.

We have had 5 women (weird I know), not including me because my blood type is "A", go thru testing to donate him a kidney. My sister's gone thru the testing all the way to the last test, and two more have gone to almost the last. Luckily in Canada (and in particular, Alberta), we have free testing, and because my hubby's in end-stage failure, everything happens relatively quickly. The most frustrating of all tho, is that all of those women, in an age range from 35 - 45, have been disquailified for one reason or another. One had "pre-hypertension, and pre-diabetes". One had high cholesterol. One had an egg allergy. One had abnormal cells in her pap. And one had legitimate issues with her own kidneys. A very good thing is that each of them has discovered an issue they have in time to deal with that particular issue. Not very many people get that opportunity - I know. And I'm truly grateful that they all had that opportunity.

My issue is that you see and hear on the news, radio, or whatever media there is, about the importance of organ donation, and signing your organ donor card. Yet, when you have various amazing, generous, people offer their organs, out of the goodness of their hearts (only 2 of the 5 are related to us in any way), you'd think that one of them would be compatible. But no.

It's so very frustrating to me that the doctors ask and ask for organ donors, and specifically "live" donors becuase the organs are healthier, then we get 5 of them, and none of them are good enough. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely don't want any one of them to be sick in the future because they gave my husband a kidney - but what exactly are they looking for? All of these women are healthy, physically fit, people. Each of their individual family doctors are baffled by them being disqualified, because the test results they got were not results that would normally cause any alarm whatsover.

In all honestly, everyone's "pre-hypertensive, pre-diabetic" pre-whatever. No one can predict what will happen in the future.

The reason I'm writing, after my diatribe (sorry), is of the importance of signing your organ donor card. I think, as does my husband, that the medical professionals are more comfortable giving 'cadaveric' organs to recipients because, quite frankly, the donor doesn't need them anymore. My husband has said all along that he wants a cadeveric kidney because he doesn't want to owe anyone anything. There are so many people waiting for organs of all types, and some die waiting.

Luckily, here in Alberta, we are very fortunate to have the health care system we do, and my husband, even tho on dialysis, is doing very well, all things considered. It could be so much worse - we are very blessed, regardless of my frustrations.

If you're on the fence about signing your card, please reconsider.

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