Like me!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I think the part about this that makes me think the most is that making this decision, when thinking about all the facts, just seems like such an obvious one. Unfortunately obvious and popular aren't even on same street.
I feel immensely better now that I have sought out others in the living donor community. Turns out, there's more than I thought and I most definitely am not alone.

Slowly I'm beginning to make friends with other living donors and it swells my heart tremendously and only solidifies this decision.

Before the first tests can be ran, you have to speak with a transplant social worker and that discussion happens on May 31st.

I have seen the question "Why don't you wait until you're dead and donate then?". Well, it's easy, the success rate for someone to have a successful transplant with a cadaver donor is less than with a living one.

Maybe you need something a little closer to home. Do you know someone who suffers from diabetes? An estimated 21 million Americans have diabetes, but another 41 million people have the prediabetic condition of high blood sugar, putting them at high risk for developing the disease in the near future.

Type 2 diabetes, moreover, is being diagnosed more frequently in children, something that was virtually unheard of 25 years ago. A lot of people waiting for kidneys are under 18. These are kids with their whole lives ahead of them.

It is an epidemic and unfortunately diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of the new cases.

The odds are very good that someone you know will need a kidney at some point.

Admittedly being a living donor isn't the sort of thing that everyone is cut out for. You can start by becoming an organ donor upon your death. One organ donor can save eight lives! Head to and sign up as a donor in your state. Organ donation doesn't violate any religious beliefs of any major religion and virtually all religions view organ donation favorably. Think of it this way, if you think you've been a miserable little turd and have doubts about facing your maker, this might help your odds. Just saying.....

Even if you aren't ready to make that leap, consider donating blood. Everything help. It really does.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Alphabet Soup

It’s May 20, the day before some religious nutjobs are saying that the world is going to end. I can't say that I'm worried (Matthew 24:36).

Frank Zappa said that it isn't necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia. Religious prophets notwithstanding I bring you paperwork.

The first thing I needed to get together was an authorization for release of medical records. These are the things that the hospital are interested in. Physical results, colonoscopy results, exercise stress tests, and if you’re a woman, mammogram and pap smear results.

Next is the kidney donor questionnaire. The usual suspects are there such as height and weight. There’s also, not surprisingly, a short section about your kidneys. Have you had any kidney problems? Ever had blood in your urine? Any history of heart disease?

Recipient info? Well this is the part I couldn’t fill out so instead I just wrote “Surprise me!”.
Another question was "nationality". This part surprised me a little. When researching donation resources I stumbled across a website that matched donors. I was very surprised to see that some recipients preferred other Americans or specific nationalities. Really? Your life is being saved and you want to know if someone is the same nationality as you?

Other questions I had to give some thought to.
“Have you discussed kidney donation with your family?”
Answer: Yes (Reality: No)

“If yes, are they supportive of your decision to donate?”
Answer: Yes (Reality: I don’t care)

I only say this because, while I am from a large family, I left home at an early age. I don’t have children and my love life has always been an absolute flaming pile of wreckage, so really it’s just me in this world. Being apart from my family and that environment for almost 30 years, I have almost nothing in common with them anymore.  I would never let them sway my decision about this or even decide my burial for that matter. (“Cremation” is the answer to your question).

Then there’s the tough question: “Why do you wish to donate a kidney?”. I was given 4 lines, which is nowhere near enough,  to answer it. The reasons are numerous, but the biggest is the simplest and most glaringly obvious. I have two of something and I can live perfectly fine with one. If the other could save someone’s life then why wouldn’t I donate it? It isn’t as if the science behind transplants is suspect or experimental anymore.

Amazingly if you sign up for the military and agree to go off to foreign lands to kill people, everyone wants to commend you while offering to give up a piece of yourself to save someone’s life is looked upon as being ridiculous.

Ever think that maybe our priorities are a little screwed up?

Lastly, the hospital needed a clinical documentation of my blood type which I duly requisitioned. In my case it’s A positive. “BAG”, “HGB”, “HCT”, “MCV”, “WBC” and a whole cornucopia of other indecipherable acronyms were on the form indicating various measurements of things in my blood, presumably all of which were ok. Not being a doctor nor staying in a Holiday Inn Express last night means I'm just in the dark about some things.

Staring at the list of acronyms, I never would’ve guessed that in my veins was not blood, but alphabet soup.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Thunderstorm

My memory is an angel that is swimming upstream in the river of time. It’s swimming to where it was born in Western Africa. I can trace to almost the very moment when I decided that I was going to do this. It was at the Tizi N’Test pass in Morocco, near the tail end of a traveling adventure in Western Africa and seeing this place was a near religious experience.

I’m a traveler and a buddhist, two things that go well together.  Constant meditation cultivates what’s known in Tibetan as “shamatha-vipassana” or, in English, mindful-awareness. The result of this is that every now and then, at very opportune times, I become very aware of where I am. I was very aware of the Tizi N’Test.

At the time all I could think of was how beautiful it was. It’s the place where the many valleys of Marrakech meet the Sahara. Lush greenery juxtaposed with red clay hill made for some beautiful scenery and I felt lucky that I was able to see it. I was then saddened when I realized that there are many who will never see it. 
Or on a smaller level, even things in their backyard.
People who have husbands and wives to love, children to raise and grandchildren to spoil. 
It was yet another moment of realizing how truly wonderful my life was (and still is!).

And then the thunderstorm rolled into my head, I actually could give life to someone. If you have two of something and can live perfectly fine on one and the other could save someone's life then why not? The science is certainly well trodden territory at this point.
I have no idea why or how this idea arose, but I made the decision at that point that I would at least keep it in my mind; an angel perpetually swimming backwards to that place in Morocco.

Swim no more angel, that current you resist is progress. It is now time to let go and let the current carry you to now, this moment.  You have evolved from memory into a determination.