I’ve rewritten the first part of my website, www.mikeneedsakidney.com:
There are more than 80,000 people in the U.S. on the national waiting list for a kidney, and more than 11 people die each day waiting. If you want to donate a kidney to someone, a couple of great sites are http://www.matchingdonors.com and http://www.kidneyregistry.org. You can also contact your local hospital.
I’m in need of a kidney too, but there are a lot of people worse off than me, who are waiting for kidneys and are already on dialysis, which results in an approximately 20 percent chance of death each year. (For me, the percentages of death from dialysis would likely be considerably lower, because I’m relatively young (40), otherwise healthy, and the problem that has resulted in my kidney failure is polycystic kidney disease (PKD), one of the “best” ailments to have among all the problems that cause kidney failure). I’m not on dialysis yet, but if I don’t get a donor very soon I’ll have to get the surgery to prepare an access in my arm for dialysis. I’ve been avoiding that because I don’t want to get that surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary, and of course I want to avoid dialysis, which can be a grueling experience.
There is a national waiting list, but there are two problems with it. 1) The average waiting time is five years (I’ve accrued 2.5 years of waiting time). 2) Kidneys from the waiting list come from deceased donors. These kidneys, while life saving for many people, on average last considerably shorter than those coming from live donors, and there’s also a slightly lower chance of the operation being successful.
Everyone has two kidneys and only needs one, and statistics show that people who donate kidneys live longer than those who don’t. This can partly be explained by the fact that people need to be healthy in the first place to donate. The process of getting tested usually involves filling out a questionnaire, getting lab work done locally, and ultimately traveling to the recipient’s hospital to get approved. Donors only spend two days in the hospital, though the recovery period may last a few weeks. All the expenses are covered by the recipient’s insurance. Most transplants are successful, with the recipient living a normal life other than taking lifelong medications to minimize the possibility of the body rejecting the organ. Quite honestly, my physical symptoms are not very severe, but the numbers don’t lie, and I have 6.7 percent of my kidney function left and it is falling, as you can see by the graphs at www.mikeneedsakidney.com. Many people get transplanted with much more kidney function remaining than I have left.