So what kind of time commitment is required to donate a kidney? One of the goals of this blog is to time the donor process from start to finish so someone thinking about donating has a point of reference about how this decision is going to effect their short term life. Of course, this will vary from person to person, especially if you are donating to someone in a different state and are required to travel. I am breaking this up into 4 phases, and covering the details of each phase in blog posts.
- Phase 1: Time spent determining if you are a viable candidate to donate a kidney and being matched to a chain (14 hours 26 minutes over 8 1/2 months)
- Phase 2: Time spent getting the transplant and staying in the hospital (36 hours)
- Phase 3: Time spent recouping before returning to work (2-3 weeks)
- Phase 4: Time spent getting back to “normal” (7-8 weeks from surgery day)
Here is a record of my time commitment to date
Phase 1: Time spent determining if you are a viable candidate to donate a kidney and being matched to a chain (14 hours 26 minutes over 8 1/2 months)
3/10/16: Initial contact via email (1 minute)
3/22/16: Completed and emailed my initial health questionnaire (20 mins)
4/06/16: Call with Jami Hanneman, my “Independent advocate and social worker” about the process (50 mins)
4/12/16: I peed in a jug for 24 hours for a pee test while on a road trip (0 minutes)
4/13/16: Initial blood test, pee turn in, and EKG to determine there was nothing majorly wrong with me, ruled out things like HIV (40 mins)
4/22/16: Follow up call and info about next appointment (10 mins)
5/05/16: Another pee test, a long health history talk with the transplant nephrologist Dr. Friedewald, and a long talk with my donor advocate, Jami (3 hours, 1 hour spent waiting for various appointments to start).
5/17/16: Meeting with another psychologist, Dr Zeeshan Butt, PhD to make sure I am a good candidate (1 Hour) and kidney CT (1 hour)
5/24/16: Approved to donate, and discussed next steps with my advocate (15 minutes)
6/17/16: Found a recipient! Discussed next steps with transplant coordinator (10 minutes)
6/30/16: Per my transplant coordinator Katie Mank: “We just received the results of the virtual cross matches and unfortunately one of them came back strongly positive. But this happens so we are working diligently to find a new swap. We also just did a 4-way swap today so we will be refreshing the system early next week. We will keep you updated as soon as we find something new.”
7/20: Had 2 more blood tests that will allow me to get into the UNOS system (1 hour)
11/15: More paperwork and blood testing (1 hour)
11/16: Final EKG, chest X-ray, and several consultations (5 hours)
Phase 2: Time spent getting the transplant and staying in the hospital (36 hours)
11/22: Kidney removal (3 hours)
11/23: Surgery prep, recovery, 1 night at the hospital, and being released from the hospital (33 hours)
12/2: Minor complication, back in the hospital for 1 night and released
Phase 3: Time spent recouping before returning to work (2-3 weeks)
Phase 4: Time spent getting back to “normal” (7-8 weeks from surgery day)
This is just the timing for my own personal experience, obviously this will vary from person to person and center to center. Broken down, getting approved to donate and being matched was a minimal time commitment stretched over 8 months. After surgery I was pretty useless for 2 weeks, the third week I didn’t feel great, but could work 1/2 days at work. I had one awfully rough day during week 3, and spent one night back at the hospital. Week 4 I felt great other than needing a little extra sleep. By week 7-8 I felt completely back to my old self, and my vitality completely returned.
If you are trying to figure out how this will translate into your donation experience, it’s a great idea to talk to multiple donors. Please contact me if you would like to be connected with other kidney donors to see how their donation timeline compared to mine. There are tons of donors out there who would love to talk to you!