Donor orientation day

Today is the day for my kidney donor orientation! 10:30am – 3:30pm, “bring a snack” (for me, not them, I assume :*) No tests except maybe a little blood, just a lot of meeting and talking. I also reached out to two donor mentors, one from Kidney Donor Athletes and one from Living Donors Online. The latter was the only one I could find who donated at this same (small) transplant center and I talked to him on the phone Saturday. I really clicked with him – similar age as me, similar attitude to fitness and medicine (and he’s an ER doctor, so extra-reassuring). Both were very encouraging.

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I got there early enough to go for a walk along the Connecticut river and see a pair of mergansers and a bald eagle! The transplant office is a large suite in a big medical building. They are remodeling and there was construction going on, but it was really empty (I was the only client at first). Everyone was super-nice. First I met with the main nurse coordinator who set me up with a 30mn video. It was a little outdated and I had a couple of critiques of it, but not too bad. Then I talked to an assistant nurse coordinator, who gave me a giant binder full of all kinds of information and a very helpful checklist of every step between now and actual donation. She also spoke really highly of the surgeon I’m assigned to, saying he was incredibly skilled and amazing to watch. The independent living donor representative assigned to me came in next, and then a financial adviser who mostly talked about insurance details (since I don’t have a recipient yet and the recipient’s insurance is supposed to cover everything, it was mostly speculation). They had told me to bring a snack, so when I’d been left alone for a while I got out my PBJ and started eating – glad I did because it was a long break and the nice receptionist offered snacks I didn’t want. My favorite person of the day was the social worker, but she was a fill-in who normally works in the ER and was very happy to see that I already have a health care proxy on file. She gets people all the time who  need them but it’s too late to fill one out when the time to use it has arrived! Then I met the surgeon, who  seemed great. His patients mostly go home after just 1 night in the hospital and don’t need any IV opiates, and his last patient didn’t even take any by mouth. He makes a quite small incision because he does full laparoscopic vs. hand-assisted, and it’s between muscle fibers so should heal quickly. He looked at my existing giant scar from my previous surgeries and he might use the same one, but is more likely to go a little higher. The one main concern he had was when I raised the topic of adhesions I’ve gotten in previous surgeries, which periodically/infrequently cause me some abdominal pain which resolves through motion (especially car rides). He wants to look at the surgical notes from my last operation in 2002. Finally I met with the primary nurse coordinator again about the next steps – basically lots more tests, but they try to clump them up. I was there more than 5 hours – next time I’ll see if I can take a walk in the middle, because it was a lot of sitting.

Subsequently I heard back that my GFR, which the surgeon was fine with, came back borderline according to National Kidney Registry guidelines (83 and they want 85). I would need a nuclear scan to confirm, but because of the trouble I had with a migraine on the day I did the 24-hour clearance, I’ll just do it again. If it comes out just slightly better I’ll be fine. I also need to make an appointment with their psychiatrist, which they require of all non-directed donors. All part of the kidney adventure!

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