Kidney Donation Update – The Countdown Starts…

Well, the balloon has gone up, the bomb has dropped, the cat’s out of the bag and other such nonsense. I have a match and I have a date, my kidney has a new home to go to.

After all the waiting these final steps have come around dizzyingly fast. I got a call in the middle of last week telling me that they had a match from the recipient list and asking if they could book me in for surgery. I’d been expecting a call although getting a positive match was still in doubt and the wait to hear was… a thing.

I should probably mention the bit just before that call first though really. The week before they’d called me and said they wanted to test me for a potential match from Tier A, which means someone who’s waited a (very) long time or who has other issues that have led to previous/potential rejections of donor kidneys. That was a confusing turn along the path to be honest, going in I think I’d researched and expected to be part of the standard matching cycle and then the start of a donation chain. In fact, daft as it is, I’d started getting a little bit… I don’t know really, competitive? Not with anyone because I’m doing no more than others, but the prospect of being part of an extended chain of donations seemed like a bigger thing than a direct match, where you donate to one person in isolation.

Absurd, I know, but thoughts come as they come and that was one of them. It’s a bit like the low level arrogance of doing a manual job or something, sometimes you create an arbitrary measure of it like speed, or how much you ache afterwards and get the vague idea that by being quicker or more wiped out you’re doing something above and beyond. When all anyone else looks at is whether the boxes got shifted or the hole got dug. Only it’s considerably more ridiculous than that, because I’m only donating one kidney and effecting one life, a chain would have had zero effect on or relevance to that. But there you go, we’re all daft in our own way, that was mine.

Anyway, I went in for the initial blood test, had a long week of waiting and then got the call. It was an interesting one. My co-ordinator confirmed the match and then, to be honest, I blanked out for a bit. I’ve got another appointment before the big day comes, a meeting with the surgeon and I think someone else too – part of the medical formalities before they’re happy to go ahead. At the time though I was kind of staring vaguely around me and thinking ‘fucking hell’. And I’m still partially thinking that.

It’s not a ‘fucking hell’ that comes with any doubts, every reason I had and decision I’ve made about donating still stands but knowing exactly when it’s happening still puts you in a spin. There’s a lot of practical stuff to focus on for now, my surgery is set for the 26th of May, so about 4 weeks from now and sorting out work, sorting out the first stages of my recovery, sorting out people to help me, it all needs doing. And doing it is, I think, a good thing to focus on. Granted so far I’ve mostly just procrastinated and talked about all the things I need to do but the thinking and procrastinating is actually a pretty helpful way to fill the time in itself.

There are bigger thoughts hovering just out of sight too, bigger emotions that need a bit of attention as I go forward. I had a moment where one of them came into focus the other day in fact. It dawned on me that out there, somewhere, is someone who’s had their own call. Someone who’s had news that their surgery is going ahead too, their surgery where they’ll get themselves a shiny new kidney with barely any miles on the clock. I don’t know who they are, I never will in fact but that’s a hell of a thing isn’t it? Going beyond the practical steps you’ve taken and considering the life they’re ultimately reaching into, well, it’s humbling in a way and supremely comforting in another. It takes the routine tests and form filling and gives it an end point, a goal you can imagine which has something a bit profound about it. I reckon in the long run I’d like to spend more time with that thought but, for now, I feel a bit reluctant to indulge it. Those practical bits are still between me and that end, that’s where the focus needs to be.

The other big one to confront is the surgery itself. More than one person has asked me if I’m scared or nervous and of course I am, frankly it’d be weird as hell if I weren’t. Some stranger’s going to cut me open and yank out one of my internal organs, if that doesn’t make you nervous then chances are you shouldn’t be doing something like this in the first place. But so what really? Fear about taking a step towards something positive is one of life’s plus points in a lot of ways. You feel it, take the step anyway and then there you go, you’ve done something good. If there were no nerves involved then it’d be a lot less meaningful. Although that said it’s still one of those big thoughts I’m trying to sidestep for now, my path to the actual operation only really involves going in and getting knocked out, at least as far as I want to consider it. Which I reckon is fine.

Anyway, there you have it, that’s where I am at the moment. Planning and waiting. Organising and waiting. Procrastinating and waiting.

I might invest in a deckchair for my recovery.

P.S. Definitely not recommending living donation for anyone (unless they want to do it) but you can register for normal, after-death donation here or to give blood here – which you should definitely do if you can.

P.P.S. First plan for when I’m back on my feet is a kidney tattoo next to my upcoming scar, because why not?

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