- Journey of an Altruistic, Non–designated Living Donor
April 26, 2011 marked my one year anniversary of donating a kidney. My name is Cara Yesawich and I am an altruistic, non directed donor that participated in a kidney pairing that helped eight people to receive new kidneys at X Hospital in Chicago on April 26, 2010. It was the largest kidney pairing in the hospital’s history.
I have wanted to be a kidney donor for number of years. I have always been an advocate for organ donation. I knew medically that an individual could function and have a perfectly normal life with one kidney so I wanted someone to benefit now, to have a better life and not have to go on dialysis. I knew that being part of a pairing would allow the most people to benefit and receive a new kidney. It was my desire from the beginning to be part of a pairing. I had no idea it would lead to eight!
Stop and think what it’s like when you receive a beautiful gift during a holiday or special event. Now stop for a moment and think about what it would be like to get a call saying to you—we have a kidney for you, from a living donor. I can’t begin to imagine the reaction a recipient has when they get that call.
For me there was no down side to donating. I would do it again if I could! I had done my research and I met with Harvey Mysel of the Living Kidneys Donor Network who is a kidney recipient himself and founded the non–profit organization to educate those in need of a kidney as well as educate those who were considering donating. I had attended a fundraiser for The John Brockington Foundation Gala four years ago in San Diego. During that dinner a couple next to me received a page that a kidney had been found for their five–year–old son. Diane Brockington was John’s donor, this beautiful petite woman and John, who had played for the Green Bay Packers. That was the night I knew—I could make a difference.
Although there are numerous web sites with information, I felt there was a major lack of information for the Living Donor. I went to the National Kidney Foundation site which had a great deal of information but it was geared toward those needing a kidney as opposed to those interested in donating. Reading and researching is great but I wanted to see someone face to face.
The hospital did a very good job of educating me medically and letting me know what to expect for the testing and donation process. But as I look back I think that anyone who is considering being a donor should have the advantage of having an advocate, someone who has actually been through the process and is willing to spend the time to help you understand all of the little issues that a donor may experience. I know that since my donation, I have now mentored twenty–three living donors, a true honor for me and I find it extremely rewarding. I set up a blog: simplycara.blogspot.com so that people could read about the journey of donating. I didn’t start writing my blog until after my donation because until it happens—it hasn’t happened. I was truly amazed how many people [End Page E14] would post questions or email me and ask if they could possibly speak to me. I welcomed each and every inquiry.
Whenever I would speak to someone I always let them know that I could not give them any medical advice. That was not the purpose in my being a mentor. What I could do to help them is share my own experience, but that they should make sure that the decision to donate was strictly their own. That decision should not be influenced by me or any one for that matter.
As far as risk, I had been well advised by the hospital and I had done my homework and research. There is a risk with any type...