Choosing a center

I got an email early morning Monday from National Kidney Registry that they had the test results and the next step was to choose a transplant center, who will review the results. I assume if the outcome was clearly negative (my serum albumin was slightly high) they’d have ruled me out? Anyway, I then had to choose a transplant center. The one closest to us, at Baystate in Springfield, has the Family Voucher program but not the full Donor Shield program so I hesitated at first – and NKR has a helpful warning that you can’t change your center after you choose it – but I have plenty of opportunities to ask questions and change my mind despite that, so I took the plunge. Got a phone call that same day from the nurse coordinator who seemed very nice. First thing is a day-long informational orientation where you meet with the surgeon, psychiatrist etc. w/o any medical testing, always on a Tuesday at 10am (worst day for me because there are standing meetings, but I’ll make it work). I’ll get a call probably Thursday to make the appointment. If they have an opening 1/21, that’s what I’ll pick. !!!

First tests: 24-hr urine, blood draw

Doing the collection itself wasn’t so bad – bit of a pain to trek back and forth to the fridge overnight – but I got a horrible migraine, probably triggered by caffeine withdrawal. I spent yesterday afternoon vomiting, ate nothing, and went to bed at 8. I wonder if it was 100% necessary to follow the directions to the letter… The wording says “Diuretics cause your body to pass more urine than normal,” but if I drink 1-2 cups of coffee every morning, isn’t that my normal? Anyway, I’m glad we don’t celebrate Christmas because the day was a wash. The Quest Diagnostics appointment this morning went smoothly – another urine sample and 3 tubes of blood. I told the technician I was glad it wasn’t the 17 tubes that other donors talk about, at least not yet! Fingers crossed the dehydration etc. (4 pounds lost in 1 day – I should have pushed liquids harder) doesn’t mess up the results. I don’t know how quickly the results come back – a week or two? Progress on the journey at least!

First test arrives

The jug took more than a week to arrive. I have to avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate – decaf and not – for a full day before as well as during the collection, and also no running. Bummer on both, but it’s only 48 hours. I’ve made the appointment to turn in jug/get bloodwork Thursday, so probably I’ll hear from the transplant center a week or two later? Fingers crossed my numbers will be good!

Second form: medical history

I got the link to the medical history and filled it out – only took about 15 minutes but it seemed very thorough. Then, to my surprise, the next step is immediate: NKR will mail me a urine collection jug for the 24-hour test. I have a month to set up an appointment with Quest Diagnostics, do the collection, and bring it in/do a blood test That’s kind of cool, not having to go through the hospital yet! If I pass this screening then they put me in touch with the transplant center. I’ll probably aim for the end of the month when I have time off. I will use work sick time for testing starting in January.

First form filled out

I turned 55 today and I just filled out the National Kidney Registry interest form! First you put in your basic contact info and get an email verification; then there are a handful of health questions (height, weight, ever had various diseases) and whether you are donating for someone you know or Good Samaritan/non-directed. Next step is to get an email letting me know if I passed the screening (no reason it would be anything but yes) and giving me a complete medical history to fill out. They estimate about a day to get the link and an hour to fill it out.

For my birthday I asked Jonathan for an official certificate that he was willing I should do this. As usual he went above and beyond with an amazing document (complete with clip-art kidney giving a thumbs-up) that says I have his “encouragement, endorsement, blessing, and 100% support.” I love it—and him—so much!