Keeping it Renal – Living Donation

Tuesday was the first really big step on the path to giving up one of my (lovely) kidneys to a stranger. At least it felt like it to me. My last visit to Guy’s Hospital was for some quick blood tests and a long talk with a consultant. A step definitely, but it still felt a bit speculative – the transplant staff and me both feeling the thing out rather than doing the serious business. This one though was all serious business.

It was a long day, loaded with waiting around, tests and crap coffee. I had a CT scan, (lots) more blood taken, more pissing in pots, x-rays and something in the Nuclear Medicine department which I still don’t entirely understand. They also gave me an ECG and, as far as I’m concerned, confirmed that my hairy tits are indeed pure electric.

It was an exhausting one, was wiped out for most of the next day although whether that was all the injections and blood letting, the waiting around or the Guinness I had immediately afterwards I’m not sure. Was also a rewarding one though, I was mostly just being bounced from department to department where there was only a vague awareness of why I was there but it did a lot to solidify the process in my mind. And on top of that the results that come from all those tests will be the main factor in whether or not I get to go ahead and actually donate. That part is a bit stressful to be honest, it’s not exactly something where I can say I ‘did well’, there were no cheerful thumbs up after they’d taken the 4th blood sample of the day. Instead it all goes off to a consultant who has a good long stare at a load of incomprehensible results and decides if I can get by on one kidney for long enough to take the risk. A decision I won’t get to hear about until my next meeting on the 18th. So until then it’s a great unknown really.

In the meantime a couple of observations though. If you ever do consider donating then rest assured, the medical preamble of tests is no great trial. It’s boring and a little uncomfortable (especially the ‘warm injection’) but it’s all easy enough. The various teams at Guy’s were all good, friendly and full of answers even if I hadn’t asked the questions. My position on anything technical is that if I don’t care enough to learn myself then I’ve minimal interest in being told about it, but fair play for making sure a person doesn’t feel left out.

I’m also (still) a bit uncomfortable talking about doing it. I’ve a lot to say about the process and my reasons for undertaking it but it’s awkward to be honest. I’m still acutely aware that it may not happen, although the signs so far have all been good and it still feels like saying it out loud is tempting fate a bit. I might not be healthy enough to do it after all. And if it falls through then ultimately I’ve done nothing of any real value. At the hospital especially I’m nervy on that front. Another guy was on the same schedule of tests as I was and we chatted a bit. He was doing it for his wife, so the whole issue of donation was a lot more immediate for him. By comparison my reasons, good as I think they are, still don’t count for much next to his immediate personal experience. I can afford a detachment he can’t and that shuts me up a bit. Writing here helps with that but the process of being open about it is an ongoing one.

Anyway, as a final thought – you can see the logic but they should never have closed down that big McDonald’s next to the hospital.

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