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Preparing for a Kidney Donation

Updated on June 22, 2019
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As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

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September 2014

This week my daughter announced that she had decided to donate one of her kidneys to her church pastor. He had been sick for some time and many of the congregation went to be tested months ago, including my mother, my daughter, and her husband. When my daughter was informed that she was a match, she prepared and put her name on a list for the pastor when his kidneys finally gave out. That happened this month. To be honest, when she told me about this, many emotions ran through my mind. First, any operation has risks, and what if something goes wrong? What about the children, my grandchildren? Do you really want to risk your life? Second, I thought she must be joking. Really? You can't be serious. Third, I thought what if the kidney she gives up doesn't work and the pastor is in the same place he was before but now she has only one? I mean there are no guarantees, are there? Fourth, I thought what if her children or, God forbid, I need one of her kidneys? I mean, what about ME? Then I figured that was pretty selfish and swallowed that thought. Last, I thought she was the most incredibly brave and generous, selfless person I have ever met. A wave of pride and gratitude washed over me and I was a peace with her decision. Luckily, I didn't say any of the things I thought, although I intend to tell her how very proud of her I am.


A Giving Girl

My little girl in the arms of my Dad (now passed away) and my Mom.
My little girl in the arms of my Dad (now passed away) and my Mom. | Source

Great Need

This is the little girl I carried, powdered and taught to walk. It seems so humbling now to think of her going under the knife to save someone else's life. I can't stop thinking about it. In preparing for this event, because in truth it is an event of significant magnitude, I did some research. According to the New York Times, more than 100,000 people now wait for kidneys and from living and deceased donors there are only 16,500 to 17,000 kidneys available annually. I think I knew there was a waiting list but had no idea it was so overwhelming. This does not include private donations like a father and son, or in this case pastor and parishioner. However, I can only imagine the joy and gratitude the pastor must have felt when he expected to be put on a long waiting list only to find someone has been standing by to donate a kidney to him specifically when his need became great.

An Amazing Story

 I created this graphic in Photoshop.
I created this graphic in Photoshop. | Source

Should We Change

In the New York Times article, it states that the altruistic system that is now in place simply is not sufficient. It probably would be helpful to have some kind of in-kind benefit in place for those who are willing to part with a body part like this. I can see that this is certainly controversial and a difficult subject, where it would be easy for those with deep pockets to offer large compensation to the less fortunate for a kidney, or for the haves to prey on the have-nots. However, something needs to be done or black-market sales will begin to flourish. The Times article mentions things like tuition vouchers for college or even donations toward the donor's retirement. Those kinds of things seem reasonable. I'm just not sure how ethical.


Would You Be Willing?

Suddenly I feel a little selfish to be sitting on my own two kidneys all these years without even giving a thought to those desperate people who need just one. Sure I have signed the donor card on my driver's license so that if ever I was killed a car accident they can have any organs that are useable. But I never gave much thought to what may be of shared use while I'm living. How many have thought of donating blood or kidneys or bone marrow? What about you? Would you donate a kidney to a total stranger?

Confessions of a Kidney Donor

My Daughter and Her Nurse

Just before moving her to her room after the surgery, I got a pic of my daughter and her nurse.
Just before moving her to her room after the surgery, I got a pic of my daughter and her nurse. | Source

Doner and Her Well Pastor

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She's expecting.
She's expecting.
She's expecting. | Source

More to the Story

On September 2, 2014, my daughter gave the gift of life to her pastor. It was a difficult time for her family, her husband, and friends waiting to hear how everything turned out for 6 hours, but it was even more difficult and hope-filled for the family and friends of the pastor. It all turned out perfect. Even before her pastor woke up, his new kidney was working as a racehorse and all his blood urine counts were normal within 2 hours of the surgery. My girl has great kidneys! She is well and getting stronger every day. She said it hurt a lot but she would do it again. We all think she is a hero.

What is more, is that she had been praying to get pregnant for years and it just didn't happen for her. She finally accepted that it wasn't going to happen and adopted a sweet little 2-year-old girl. After the kidney donation, she got pregnant finally. God is Good... all the time.


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