Living Kidney Donors save two lives: their kidney recipients and someone on the transplant waiting list.  

“It’s been about ten years and my life has not changed. I have my scar and am just more health conscious. No life changing routines.” -Lisa, Living Kidney Donor

In 2005, Lisa’s brother told her family that he would need a kidney transplant. His kidneys had failed from diabetes.  She remembers her brother coming and talking to them about his options.  At the time, he was on hemodialysis.  He said something about going to an orientation to learn more about his treatment options. 

“When we went [to the orientation] we had no idea, that we were going to donate, we were just there to learn.”

After the orientation, Lisa decided she would go through the donor process.

“My brother did not have to ask us to be a donor.  We were his family.”

The donation testing started in January 2006.  The doctors told Lisa she was one of the best matches for her brother, almost a perfect match. 

The donation process was very easy.

“It was easy, a lot of lab work, testing my kidney function, a CT scan, it was very thorough. One of the scans, showed some spots on my liver.  The doctor’s looked into it, but nothing was found.”

The donation process was very meticulous. 

“I was impressed with the care and concerns that the transplant team had for both of us.  The effects this would have on both of us were thoroughly explained.”

The transplant team checks not only your physical health, but also your mental wellbeing.

“I met with a counselor and they asked me if I was being coerced in to doing this.  They wanted to make sure I was a willing donor.” 

The day before the surgery Lisa and her brother had one final check-in. 

“Tuesday, right before the surgery, I had a mole removed.  There were some stitches and I remember the doctor wanting to make sure I was not at risk for cancer.  They did tests and got the okay from an Oncologist. The doctors were very concerned about me as a donor. I was very thoroughly impressed. I was doing this willing and I was taken care of as well.”

In April of 2006, Lisa gave her brother her kidney.

“I remember the doctors saying that a living donor’s kidney could last for almost 20 years.  I remember calculating that in my head for my brother, thinking that’s a long time.”

The surgery was successful.  Lisa was the first patient to have her kidney removed through laparoscopic surgery at the VA hospital.  Now a common procedure, laparoscopic surgery is less invasive and allows for quicker recovery time.  After the surgery, Lisa stated she had no after effects or regrets.  She physically felt the same, and recovery was good.

Lisa’s brother passed his 10-year kidney anniversary this past April. As a recipient, there were no complications with his transplant.  And Lisa is doing well too – she’s more health conscious, but her lifestyle has not changed. 

After the transplant, she and her brother are bonded by this special gift in a way that most people will never know or understand.

“My brother is really grateful, absolutely thankful.  He wouldn’t even begin to say how thankful he is.  His life is longer and he has a better quality of life.”

I asked Lisa, after hearing her story, if she would do it again and what advice she had for people considering being potential donors.

“Yes, I’d do it again… if someone is really considering, don’t be afraid to do it.” 

June 2016