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What I Learned When My Kidneys Failed–Postscript

October 20, 2014

Its been a year and a quarter since I was wheeled into that operating room being almost indifferent to the outcome of the surgery. Either I would wake up and no longer be desperately sick-or I would not wake up and I would no longer be desperately sick. A win-win I thought as I started to count backwards.

Renal failure is the ultimiate perspective checker. No what happens now–the challenges, the frustrations, the seeming intractable problems of everyday life I can always say to myself (and I often do) “This sucks but it beats renal failure.”

Apparently I am the poster boy for successful outcomes for a kidney transplant. I show no signs of rejection, and all of my blood chemistry is normal. The transplant docs tell me that if they are going to experience trouble with a transplanted kidney it will most likely show up in the first year. Transplanted organs to not last forever, and I know that I may need to go throughout this again. But I have a reasonable expectation that this kidney will outlast the rest of me.

It has been an amazing year. one that I did not deserve. I am fully recovered from the surgery, I am traveling again and am doing the best photography of my life. I can walk my dogs on brilliant October afternoons while I can take in the active social scene around Lake Merritt. There are a new cast of characters in my life that would not be there but for this experience. Every moment that I am alive is a blessing.

But there is something else that is present every moment I am alive. There are thousands of people still on the road that I just left. Many will die without leaving that road. Many are not as fortunate as me in having excellent health insurance or supplemental resources needed to cope with this condition. Many do not have extended networks of loyal friends willing to donate a kidney on their behalf through the National Kidney Registry’s paired exchange program. Many do not even know about this program. I will be mindful of these people and their continued suffering with every breathe I take that I do not deserve.

I am just one survivor and I do what I can. But collectively, we all need to do more. The need is great, the suffering is real, and the resources are short. Please support research into this disease so that someday, no one else will have to go through this. Consider becoming a living donor, even altruistically. Altruistic donors start these paired exchanges that can save several lives.

Above all take care of yourselves. If you are at risk for this disease, do what you need to do to actively manage this condition as you can have many fruitful years with declining kidney funtion. And don’t allow yourselves or your loved ones make choices that put yourselves at greater risk.

Now I close this series with the pledge that I made to everyone who made this possible–I promise not to waste the time you have given me.

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From → Health

One Comment
  1. Well said. God bless you.

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