Peeking At Transplantation

ringLadies and Gentlemen: welcome to the first blog by Gail Rae-Garwood (Mrs. Paul A. Garwood), formerly Gail Rae.  Thank you for all your congratulations and good wishes! I have more former names than I’d like to admit, but I’m sticking with this one, just as I’m hoping to stick with my own two kidneys for the rest of my life… or as I say to Bear “whatever time we have left.”

I am not morbid but I’m also not the blushing bride my dear cousin Steve Bernard caricatured me as.  I’m just plain realistic. And that’s why we’ll take a little peek at transplantation today.  Remember that I’m not a doctor and I didn’t want to know anything about this ever.  But it is a fact in some lives.  Sure I don’t want to have one of those lives and I’m doing everything I can to avoid it, yet….

Do you know about the TransplantCommunityOutreach page on Facebook?  They asked me to be their kidney ‘expert’ right after What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease                         was published.  I balked since I certainly didn’t feel like an expert and knew nothing about transplantation.  Linda and Rex Maus went back and forth with me until I understood they didn’t expect me to know everything, just to remind the transplantees what it had been like in the early stages and keep them informed about what new discoveries have been made since their own time in the early stages of chronic kidney disease.  I was comfortable doing that.

You already know that when your kidney function decreases to 10 or 15%, depending upon your nephrologist’s views, you need outside help.  By this I mean, from outside your body.  We timidly explored dialysis last week.  A word about that.  There is so much more that I’ve learned about dialysis while I was researching for that blog. If you’d also like to learn more – whether you’re at the point of needing it or not – I urge you to do more research on your own.The Table

Or, if you’re not comfortable researching, go to one of the national kidney organizations.  They will give you clear, simply stated explanations with diagrams and will list other sources. I would start with Medlineplus, a service of The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/vivisimo/cgi-bin/query-meta?v%3Aproject=medlineplus&query=renal+dialysis .

I went to Medline at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/kidneytransplantation.html for a definition of renal (or kidney) transplant:

“A kidney transplant is an operation that places a healthy kidney in your body. The transplanted kidney takes over the work of the two kidneys that failed, so you no longer need dialysis.

During a transplant, the surgeon places the new kidney in your lower abdomen and connects the artery and vein of the new kidney to your artery and vein. Often, the new kidney will start making urine as soon as your blood starts flowing through it. But sometimes it takes a few weeks to start working.

Many transplanted kidneys come from donors who have died. Some come from a living family member. The wait for a new kidney can be long.

If you have a transplant, you must take drugs for the rest of your life, to keep your body from rejecting the new kidney.”

I find people cringe at the thought of taking drugs for that long, but think of the alternative… or lack of one.  There is quite a bit of information packed into that concise definition.

Diagrams always help me understand when the words don’t.  You’d think that wouldn’t be the case for a writer, but I like to think of myself as the exception to the rule. (It saves face when I don’t remember what some of the terms in the definition mean.)  This is the clearest, simplest diagram I could find.faq_kidney_transplantation

A couple of reminders (taken from the glossary of What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease):

  1. Arteries are the vessels that carry blood from the heart.
  2. Veins are the vessels that carry blood toward the heart.

In the last decade, there has been experimentation with taking the donor kidney laparoscopically. That means using extremely small instructions which require extremely small incisions into the abdomen of the donor. I haven’t seen any articles that are negative about this and it cuts down on the recovery time for the live donor.  Since we each have two kidneys and it is possible to live with one, someone who matches may donate a kidney to you.  Otherwise, you will receive something called a cadaver kidney, meaning one which comes from someone who has just died.

Recently, according to ScienceBlog at http://scienceblog.com/56571/donors-like-giving-up-kidney-through-belly-button/ , this marvelous procedure of removing donor kidneys laparoscopically has been further improved by using only one incision in the belly button which is lost within the navel folds once it is healed. The idea is to make it more comfortable for the living donor so that more living donors can be found.

As for the person receiving the kidney, you will be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life.  Your body is designed to reject foreign bodies – including organs.  You’ll also need to pay attention to exercise, diet, sleep, and stress sort of like with ckd, only this is not a life or death matter…  not a keeping your GFR up matter.

Some people choose not to take on that challenge.  It was only through Cheryl’s death that I came to realize not everyone wants to prolong their life if it means doing what they don’t feel they can.

I know, I know, here I am a newlywed (one day now, folks) and I haven’t told you a thing about the wedding or the reception.  I simply felt that, logically, a blog on transportation had to follow the one on dialysis.  Again, I haven’t told you much more than the basics so if you want more, research.  Or comment and I’ll help you find more information.

Expect to cry and laugh with me next week as I weave highlights of the wedding into kidney information.  To my European readers, thank you so much for the volume of sales there!  To my US readers, don’t forget this Kidney Walk season.  Contact your local kidney organization for info on the walk in your area.Az. Kid Walk

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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