Having a partner with kidney failure is definitely one of life’s difficult times. When I agreed to be a living kidney donor for my husband, I assumed we would not be a match but would be part of the kidney donation swap programs to help reduce his wait time for a transplant and decrease his time on dialysis. Because life has its ups along with its downs we beat the bad news with the realization that we were a perfect match! Chalk it up to the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon or Synchronicity but I have found more and more stories about spouses donating to each other, mostly wives to husbands. It is cool to hear similar stories of hope and success.
So, here is what I went through to be a match.
Neither my husband nor myself knew our blood types at the time we got the news that a transplant was needed. Coordinating blood types is the first indicator as to whether or not two people are a match. There are four major blood types. These types are A, B, AB and O. The positive or negative feature in blood typing is not a factor when determining compatibility between a donor and a recipient.
Blood type for Donors:
O donates to All 4 – A,B,AB & O
A donates to A and AB
B donates to B & AB
AB donates to AB
Blood type for Recipients:
O receives from O
A receives from A or O
B receives from B or O
A receives from All 4 (A,B,AB & O)
I am an O And my husband is an A so we had a good start. We then had to give copious amounts of blood for genetic match testing. There are a lot of tests and I don’t know them all. Because a recipient has to be concerned with rejecting the new kidney, some of the tests determine whether or not the donor and recipient have similar antibodies. If the recipient has developed immunities to certain diseases and illnesses that the donor does not have, the recipient may have to get immunizations to give their bodies a chance to build up similar antibodies. This will help with preventing rejection of the new kidney.
We were shown some numbers from the blood work and were excited about the results. There were two significant match tests that we had done. One was measured with “anything under 35 indicates a match”. Our number was . . . zero. . . an absolute perfect match! The other relevant test said “anything under 73 indicates a match”. . . again, we were a zero. . . perfect!
Once our blood tests were approved, there were a series of tests for me to complete. These are important to prove that the donor is healthy enough for surgery and to live with one kidney. (Most people are)
- 24 hour urine collection
- chest x-ray
- more bloodwork for HIV, Hepatitis B & C, kidney function, liver function, anemia and more viruses
- more urinalysis
- complete physical exam
- psychosocial assessment is conducted by a social worker
- more blood work
- CT Scan of kidneys and urinary tract
- dental exam to confirm no decomposition or infection
- more blood work to confirm the results from the previous blood work
Note: You are “High Risk” and may not be able to donate if you have:
- ever been in any jail for longer than 48 hours
- had risky or unprotected sex
- used intravenous drugs
- done any other hazardous things that could cause infections or antibodies
Then you go to the hospital transplant center for about 5 hours on a day to “Meet the Team” to be educated about the surgery, meet the surgeon, and do more tests. You will meet with a social worker, a donor advocate and a dietician. You will be questioned MANY times to make sure that you are not being coerced or forced to donate. You will be assured, reassured and then reassured some more that at any moment up to the time of going under the anesthesiology, that you can change your mind and not go through with the procedure no questions asked.
You also can not be paid or compensated in any way for donating. (although my friends think I should receive a kidney shaped diamond pendant from my husband- lol) You will also be assured that donors are never charged medical bills for donating! You may also be required to do more tests (although I did not) such as glucose tolerance, stress test and more.
After losing all modesty and all privacy. . . after being poked and prodded, injected and drained. . . it is time to sit and wait. All of the results are presented to the board and approved. (We have done this too).
Then, we waited for out medical insurance company to decide what they will and will not cover before we were allowed to schedule the surgery.But we will have a date soon!