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Donating Life

By Paul Redman

This is all about doing something good to help someone else. My name is Paul and for some years I have been very interested in health issues. This interest in health led me on to looking at people with kidney failure and how it affects their lives having to endure dialysis. The only way a person with kidney failure can get off dialysis is to have a kidney transplant.

There are two ways to get a kidney for a transplant. It either has to come from someone that has died or it can come from a living donor, as we have two and it is possible to give one up and lead a normal life with just one.

I have made contact with eleven people directly and indirectly that have given one of their kidneys as living donors. All of them said that they did not miss the kidney that was taken out and all of the recipients got a new lease of life with the donated kidney. Most of the living donors said that they would do it again if they could.

So I decided that giving one of my kidneys to help someone was something that I wanted to do. However I have found that giving a kidney is much more difficult than I expected. I did not want to make an anonymous donation. I wanted to get to know my recipient and I found that most recipients wanted to get to know their donor and where the kidney was coming from. I have had several possible recipients but I still have two kidneys in me mainly because I have not matched or the recipient has not been suitable due to other health problems.

I think it is important that anyone that wants to be a living kidney donor looks at what is involved. The first thing is that some blood has to be taken from the donor and recipient to find out if they match. After getting past the initial stage , if there is a match, additional tests would have to be done. These include more blood and urine tests. Then there are tests to determine kidney function as there must be a high enough function in each kidney for one to be taken out so the donor can live with just the other one. There would also be a heart stress test and a chest x ray.
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If all the tests are passed then the operation can go ahead to take out one of the donors kidneys for transplant. I have made a study of the laparoscopic operation to take out a kidney which I will describe below, but I do want to say that different surgeons may do the operation in a slightly different way. The operation on the donor and recipient are done in adjacent operating theatres so the kidney is taken from the donor and transplanted straight to the recipient.

The donor is put under the general anesthetic. A catheter is then put in the donor’s bladder to monitor urine output and a line is put in the donor for fluids and medication. The donor’s abdomen is then inflated with carbon dioxide to give a working space between the abdominal wall and the internal organs. Into this working space is put a video camera and laparoscopic instruments through up to four stab incisions two on the mid line between the bottom of the sternum and the navel and two to the left side of the abdomen if the left kidney is being removed.

After the kidney has been dissected out then a horizontal or vertical cut about 3 – 4 inches long is made on the donor’s abdomen below the navel. The abdomen is then opened and the kidney is removed with a retrieval bag.

The operation takes about three hours. The hospital stay is three to five days after which there is a recovery period of around six weeks. A kidney from a living donor does normally work for much longer than one from a deceased person but there is no guarantee of success or how long it will last.

This is all about doing something good to help some one else.

If after reading this many people may decide that being a living kidney door is not for them, and a few may decide it is. I have however decided that it is something I would very much like to do and I am pledging my body for the cause. So if you need a kidney transplant or know someone who does e-mail me on-

I am over 60 so ideally would like a recipient not younger than 50.


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