As Anthony celebrates the anniversary of his kidney transplantation, we sit in our office reflecting on our journey together. It was exactly a year ago when he was called in the middle of the night for a kidney transplantation. His wait was finally over.
“One of the luckiest people”
Anthony considers himself to be one of the luckiest people even though life has been tough for him. He was young, healthy, and caring. His world came crashing in on him four years ago when he developed a rare, aggressive form of kidney inflammation. Within few months he was on dialysis. Three times a week, four hours each time, week after week, month after month, he was hooked up to a dialysis machine to keep his blood clean just to survive.
Organ Donation: 110,000 People Waiting
In United States there are about 110,000 people waiting for a kidney transplantation.
- Every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant waitlist.
- Thirteen people die each day while waiting for a kidney transplantation.
- About 10 people are removed from the list each day as they become too sick to get a transplant.
- The average wait time is now about 4 years and can be more than 10 years in certain situations.
- Last year 19,800 kidney transplants were performed of which 14,000 kidney came from deceased donors and 5,800 from living donors.
Organ Donation: Anthony’s Experience
To get on the waitlist, Anthony underwent an extensive evaluation over months. A few of his family and friends came forward to help, but none of them were a match. His options were limited to waiting on the list and that wait lasted three years.
Life was tough, at times he lost hope, but he gained strength with every fall. Finally, a year ago, he received the call he had been waiting for three years. In the toughest moments of their life, a family came forward to donate the organs of a dying family member and Anthony was a match.
Post-Transplant: Good and Bad Days
Post transplantation period came with its own share of complications and good and bad days. It took a few months for him to completely recover. He still takes his immunosuppressive medications and keeps up with his frequent visits to the transplant clinic. He is now back to working full-time and spending quality time with family.
At the end of the visit, I asked Anthony what his plan was for the night. He said that he was going to write a letter to the donor family and say, “You saved my life. Thank you.”
One Donor Saves Eight Lives
That one donor saved five other lives and this is the gift of life to which we will always remain in debt. One organ donor has the potential to save eight lives. You can also play a big role in this miracle of 20th century by signing up to be a donor. Get that red heart on your driver’s license.
Abhishek Kumar, MD, is a Transplant Nephrologist in the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at The University of Vermont Medical Center.
Patient name has been changed to protect his/her identity.