I find it strange almost everyone would accept a organ transplant if they needed one, but the majority of people have not taken 5 minutes to confirm being a organ donor. I understand some racial groups are especially notorious for this. This is confusing. I think everyone should be automatically a donor, but they can opt out if they want to.
My post today is to share information about the Living Donor Process. Since I live in British Columbia, I will refer to Vancouver General Hospital.
Perhaps you have become aware that living donor transplants are being done more and more frequently. This is because of the huge improvements in surgery and the absolutely huge amount of precaution beforehand to ensure the donor is a good match and will remain healthy after the surgery. The health of both the donor and the patient are of high priority concern to the transplant team.
Why a Living Donor?
A Living Donor transplant enables a kidney patient to go straight to transplant, and the recipient’s health is better by avoiding dialysis.
- Donors can live normal healthy lives with one kidney.
- Donors must step forward to donate voluntarily.
- Donors are carefully screened to ensure they are in good physical and emotional health and able to give informed consent to the transplant process.
- Donors in BC must be at least 19 and there is NO UPPER LIMIT of age.
- Donors are reminded that anytime, anytime they can choose not to proceed and they will never be pressured to donate.
Don’t Donors have to be related to the patient?
Often living donors are related, but they don’t have to be. A living donor can be a sibling, parent, child or a relative. A donor can be a friend, or a relative through marriage, a co-worker or just a member of the community.
What are the Steps?
Step 1 : Pre- Screen. You can begin the process by calling Pre-Transplant Services at Vancouver General Hospital – toll free 1-800-663-6189. The pre-screening is done by filling out a medical and social history questionnaire. If no concerns, the nurse coordinator will arrange for a blood type and cross match test to check for compatibility.
Step 2: Everything going well so far, next you will need to do a number of tests to ensure it is SAFE for you to donate. This might involve your family doctor.
Step 3: Everything still smooth, the laboratory and diagnostic tests confirm it is safe for you and if you still want to proceed then the next step is to meet the members of the Transplant team at Vancouver General Hospital. This actually takes place over TWO days as there are different parts of the team to meet, some procedures to be performed. This step results in all your questions being dealt with and the team is confirmed of your ability to provide informed consent. I think another result is confidence because you see the depth of the experience and the knowledge of the team who are there to ensure you remain healthy and not just for the patient. Everything is strictly confidential, and are not shared with the patient.
Step 4: Surgery and Recovery. Donors usually spend as little as 2 nights in the hospital after surgery and as long as 4 nights. Total recovery requires between 4 – 12 weeks of time. Surgery is done using advanced minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery which is safe and results in faster recovery time. It is still a surgery of course, so there is possibility of problems as with any surgery but the risk of dying from donating a kidney is 0.03%. The risk of serious complications is about 1-2%.
If you want to know more –
- www.transplant.bc.ca or
- www.kidney.ca/BC/LODERP – which is the Living Organ Donor Expense Reimbursement Program
Or just call the VGH Living Donor Program – tel: 604-875-5182 or toll free 1-855-875-5182
Thanks for reading, and the international online friendship you provide. God Bless you all.