Spilling my guts… Kidney Donation Update — Part II

Writing this just after my last post so might be best to check that out first…

After my psych interview the next (and last) big step on my adventure in kidney donation was the HTA interview. The HTA is the Human Tissue Authority and, when you’re going in as a Non-Directed Altruistic Donor (giving a kidney to a stranger) they’re the ones with the final say on whether you get the go ahead.

As with the psych interview there was a fairly nerve racking wait for this one if only because it seemed to take so long to come. I mean, it didn’t really, this whole process has been really efficient but when you know that there’s only one major barrier to pass things do seem to drag a bit. Unlike the psych test though I felt a lot less uncertain about it. I more or less knew (and was reassured by the incredibly helpful Facebook donor group) that it was retreading a lot of old ground as far as the questions went and it would also be taking into account all the stuff I’d done so far. The HTA representatives job is more of a final once over than anything, an additional layer of confirmation that you know what you’re doing, why and aren’t being coerced or paid to do it. And while I’d be more than happy if anyone wants to slip me a few grand on the side I’m also good without and pretty clear on my reasons for going ahead.

This interview was easy as really, it didn’t take long, the interviewer was nice and friendly as well as being very positive about the whole thing. The only downside was that, yet again, it was a remote meeting and for some reason it was on a platform called Blue Jeans (or similar), which doesn’t work on anything apparently. Still, technical issues aside we got through it and she told me that she was happy to give me the go ahead. Which brings my story up to date really. I’m currently waiting for the HTA to process their paperwork, whatever that may be, and then I’ll be going into the April matching cycle hopefully. Which means more medical tests to find me a match. What those tests are I’m still not sure and when the surgery will happen is similarly a mystery. Both the kidney unit and people who’ve donated have given me rough guides to when it might happen – late June onwards basically – but there’s a lot of uncertainty around it all. Usually they try to get things lined up as quickly as they can but with so many moving parts it’s hard to be too precise. I’ll hopefully be going into a chain, which means that my donation will trigger others and that means that everyone involved has to stay healthy for the duration. If someone comes down with Covid (or anything) then surgery can be delayed, if I get sick, it can be delayed. In fact a week before I go under I’ll have to quarantine regardless which will be fun I’m sure.

So, that’s a little annoying. I’ve never been a great one for uncertainty, I like to know what’s happening when, which runs a bit contrary to how I live my life – basically as one long act of procrastination, but there you go. Things will be going ahead though, all being well and I’m trying to remind myself that beyond waiting and not obsessing about it there’s nothing at all I can do to speed things up so no point worrying about it.

On a side note, for the uninitiated, a ‘Chain’ means that when I donate a load more people do to. Basically a lot of people who need a kidney have friends or family who are willing to donate one. That doesn’t mean they’ll be a match though. So instead of donating to their friend/partner/parent/sibling those willing people say they’ll donate to a stranger when their friend/partner/parent/sibling gets their own kidney. The person they donate to then has someone do the same, so you can build a line of transplants that goes through a fair few people. The starting point for that process though is the feckless likes of me, with our free, non-directed kidney. So my donation, with a bit of luck, will trigger a chain. Of course it might not, there’s also the possibility that there’ll just be a match for me who needs a kidney in a hurry and that’ll be that. Doesn’t much matter either way from my point of view, someone’s getting a high quality, barely used, one-careful-owner kidney whatever the case. Also, here’s a couple of pictures to explain it better than I have…

So there you go. That’s where things stand at the moment, I’m waiting for news on the next step and, gradually, trying to organise myself for it. Sorting work out will be a big thing, the NHS does cover loss of earnings but being self employed means that’s always a matter of luck as much as anything. I’ll have to submit earnings from a comparable period so we’ll see. I also need to plan out my recovery period, figure out how best to look after myself. Some people can, apparently, get back to work and life in next to no time. As my job involves a fair bit of physical work I have to err on the side of caution a bit more though, might be off for up to 3 months even if the recovery all goes well. Certainly can’t do any heavy lifting for a while and that’s unavoidable with what I do. Still, worse things in the world than doing nowt for a while. Something to think about though.

I’ll finish up with a listening suggestion which, next time, I might write some thoughts about. It’s over on BBC Sounds and it’s called ‘The Anatomy of Kindness‘. It’s not specifically about Altruistic Donation but it does include an interview with a kidney donor and a fair bit of related stuff. It’s interesting although I wouldn’t say I’m entirely sold on some of the conclusions/theories involved. Still, more on that next time.

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