Today is my one year kidneyversary! Thoughts....
Before my surgery I spent hours and hours researching the process as well as tracking down as many first hand donor accounts as possible. Thankfully, there were several people who shared their experience online and I was grateful for that. One strange pattern I found repeated over and over by kidney donors was that there were lots of updates and blog posts leading up to surgery and immediately after but then the updates abruptly stopped. I was puzzled by this, especially since there were so many donors with this same immediate disappearance once the kidney was removed.
Now I get it.
One year out from surgery there's really nothing more to say. After the initial physical recovery from surgery the donation process does not greatly alter my day to day living. Most days I don't even think about it unless I happen to glance at one of my scars in the mirror. I like my scars and I am proud of them.
I still have no additional information from or about my kidney recipient, and that's ok. It would be great if I could meet him or even exchange emails but I'm also content just knowing he is out there somewhere alive.
I had a 6 month check up with the nephrologist in May. All of my numbers and levels were looking good. My blood pressure has been little wonky at doctor's appointments during the last year but nothing too far out of the ordinary to raise any red flags. I'll go back in for more labs this week and then again in another year. After my two year check up I'm released into the world with no more follow up appointments necessary.
I'm still so thankful for the opportunity to donate and would do it again if I could. Thank you for checking up on me and encouraging me over the last year.
Second and Third Day After Surgery
I just re-read my last post about my bad day at the hospital...sheesh! Sorry for all the doom and gloom. What a downer. Since more than a month has passed, I figured it was time to finally finish telling my tales from the hospital.
Thursday was the day that I was originally supposed to go home. I think I was moping a little bit on Thursday feeling sorry for myself rather than feeling a lot of actual pain. I was still sore and adjusting to some changes in medication but overall was mostly just tired. I did finally start eating some real food on Thursday which was nice because it had been 3 days since my last real meal.
The excitement for Thursday happened when a random physical therapist came by. She was very, verrrrryyy peppy and told me to get up because we were going for a walk! No one told me that I would be working with a physical therapist but I figured she wouldn't have come if someone didn't order PT for me. So off we went. We walked 2 or 3 laps around the floor and I was completely worn out. When we rounded the final corner on the final lap my eyes were set on the door of my room and I couldn't wait to get back in bed. Right as I was just about to head into my room she stopped me and told me to hold on to a rail on the wall and do 10 calf raises. I really didn't want to but figured it would take about 10 seconds and then I could lay down. I got really dizzy and she was asking me how many I had done. I told her 7 and she said, "are you sure? I think you've only done 4" I got really annoyed and said, "NO! I've done 7!" Haha. (sorry for yelling at you randome PT lady!) Then I told her I needed to lay down. She said I first needed to do some weird ballet pointed toe exercise. Then the nausea hit me like a ton of bricks. I told her I was going to puke and she said to just finish the set. I told her that if she didn't get me the barf bag I was going to just have to puke on the floor. I somehow made it into my room and then immediately threw up. She kinda moon walked out of the room and never came back. The whole thing was very weird.
Thursday afternoon and night I snoozed quite a bit and was starting to feel a lot better. I was eating crackers and jello like a champ. I woke up at about 4:00am on Friday and couldn't go back to sleep. My mom was sleeping in the guest "bed" which is really more of a chair. Sometime after 6:00am she woke up. Shortly after this she was handing me a cracker and tripped on the bed tray falling to the floor. I pressed the button on my bed to call the nurse right away. The nurse came in and helped my mom up. In typical mom fashion she acted like it was no big deal and that she was fine. They got her some ice. Over the next few hours I noticed that she was wincing whenever she moved her arm. She admitted that it was hurting pretty bad. She made an appointment for that evening with her doctor back near her house. The nurses (and I) convinced her that she probably didn't need to wait that long so they wheeled her to the ER in another part of the hospital. If you happen to know my mother, you will not be surprised to hear that while she did have her cell phone with her, the battery was completely dead.
Of course this was right about the time they were discharging me from the hospital. So my dad was running back and forth between the ER and my room trying to manage both patients. We were both discharged within about 30 minutes of one another but my mom ended up having to sit on a bench outside of one building while they wheeled me out of another building. I feel like they were playing a joke on me with the route we took to get out of the hospital in the wheelchair. We passed right by a bank of elevators that would have taken us straight down and right into the lobby. Instead we took two separate elevators, wheeled about 20 miles inside of one building and into another and ended our journey way way farther away from our car and my poor mom who had in fact broken her elbow.
The car trip home wasn't too terrible and I was sooooo glad to be in my own bed. First order of business: take a super long nap.
Home sweet home.
First Day After Surgery
Wednesday turned out to be both the best and worst day for me at the hospital. I woke up Wednesday morning after a somewhat less than decent night of "sleep". I struggle to call it sleep because I think my dozing in and out over and over had just as much to do with the pain medicine as it did with the fact that it was night time.
My goal for Wednesday was to ditch as many of my needles, meds and poles as possible. I wanted to be released on Thursday and knew that my chances would be better if I wasn't hooked up to anything. At this point my main issue was that I was not able to read. To clarify, I still possessed the skills to read but was unable to clearly see anything close up. Words in books or on a screen were incredibly blurry. I mentioned this to every nurse and doctor that came to visit me and none of them offered any comfort. Seems like I may have been the first person to ever have this particular complaint following surgery. Otherwise I wasn't feeling too bad. Pain was at about a 3 out of 10 on the pain scale and I was only experiencing mild, intermittent nausea (which was way better than I was expecting).
First to go was the catheter. Don't need to go into too much detail on that one but was happy to be able to pee right away all on my own. Sometimes, I had been told, it take a few hours for the bladder to wake up and remember how to work after being connected to the catheter.
Next to go was the pain med pump. My little buddy had been good to me over the past 24 hours but I knew I needed to say goodbye and switch to oral meds if I had any hope of getting released on Thursday. When disconnecting the pump, the nurse realized that the skin around my IV site was pretty swollen and blotchy. She immediately disconnected all of my tubes and took out the IV. I was slightly worried about that part of my arm but secretly happy to be rid of all of the tubes. Unfortunately I celebrated too early because I was quickly informed that I had to have an IV for my entire stay and that they would need to poke me again somewhere else.
Long story short...it took 5 different "attempts" (stabbing and digging around with the needle) and 3 different nurses to finally get the new IV going. Ouchy.
Ok, some of this sounds bad but really I was feeling great. I got to spend time with my family and friends and even my son was able to come visit me for a little bit. I didn't take any naps and was adjusting well to the oral pain medicine. My only other drug was an anti nausea medication. I was getting up and walking regularly and was getting pretty pumped for my chances to go home the next day.
I was still having a lot of trouble with my vision. A lot. It got to the point where whenever I looked at anything up close it felt like I was looking at it with my eyes crossed. In the early evening, when all but my mother had gone home, the donor coordinator came in to check on me. She asked if I still had the anti-nausea patch behind my ear from before surgery. Turns out that is what was causing the vision issues. The nurses took off the patch and I thought I was in the clear. Within the next 10 minutes I started having quite a bit of trouble breathing. I have always had some breathing issues but this was really scary. Not only was I having trouble taking deep breaths, but each breath felt like I was being stabbed in the chest and stomach. I sounded really wheezy and felt incredibly awful. My mom was trying to get the nurses to help me but they were stumped. I felt like I was drowning and was starting to panic especially since the nurses were just kind of staring at me. I think the gas they pumped into my stomach during surgery must have shifted up into my chest and shoulders or something. I was crying and trying to tell the nurses what was wrong between strangled breaths. Ugh. After what seemed like forever but was probably only 5 or 10 minutes the pain lessened and I switched to slower, more shallow breathing which helped. Then I think they gave me a shot of something to calm me down because I got really sleepy right away. That was by far the worst part of this entire ordeal.
After all of that drama, I had a terrible night of sleep. I was sore and nauseated. 48 hours after surgery I still hadn't really eaten anything other than broth and a few cubes of jello. I was drinking a ton of water and my routine became: painfully get out of bed, painfully walk to the bathroom, painfully get back in bed, sleep, repeat.
I'd say the worst of Wednesday was still only about a 6 out of 10 on the pain scale (not including the breathing issues). I knew ahead of time that the day after surgery was supposed to be the worst day but at the time that didn't make me feel any better. My next post will combine Thursday (not much happened) and Friday (lots of things happened). I know I'm already forgetting several details (I know I took a shower in there somewhere) but I'm happy to be able to write this down to remind my future self what it felt like.
Day of Surgery
I was planning to write about each day in the hospital as it happened. That did not happen...not even close. I can summarize by saying that my time over the last several days was both better and worse than I expected. I'll start with the morning of surgery.
Tuesday morning my alarm was set to go off at 4:00am. I was able to sleep only 3 hours Monday night/Tuesday morning and woke up before my alarm. My very sweet yet very sleepy husband drove us to the hospital for our 5:30am check in. They took me back immediately for labs. The hospital in New Jersey needed some more vials of blood. After the vials were drawn I was told to "guard them with my life". My blood and I went back to the waiting room where we were pretty quickly escorted to another building by a hospital concierge. This lady took us right and left and up and down and kept us well informed every step of the way "ok everybody, now we will be getting OFF of the elevator". We made it to yet another waiting room. They called me in for a urine sample and to take my vitals. I was told I had the best blood pressure of the day so far. When it was time for us to go back to the pre-surgery area I was briefly concerned when I just saw a giant room of empty hospital beds. Another concierge asked me to put on a gown and take off everything else. Thankfully, he motioned to some privacy curtains that I could pull around the bed.
It was a little after 6:00am at this point and within the next hour I spoke with several nurses, the anesthesiologist, the donor coordinator (she took my well guarded vials of blood), the nephrologist and two surgeons. Oh, and my mom also showed up. They all asked me for my full name and date of birth and why I was there. The surgeon signed his initials along with the word "yes" on my left side. I was hooked up to an IV and was very grateful for it to be connected to my forearm instead of my hand. The donor coordinator made a little speech about how my surgery would result in 4 people getting new kidneys that day. At this point my mom and my husband and I all said goodbye and gave one last hug, This was the only time I got a little nervous. The nerves didn't last long because almost immediately after saying goodbye to my family I was given what they referred to as a "margarita" in my IV. I felt it immediately and felt very calm while being wheeled to the operating room. I remember the ride to the room and a few sentences once I got to the room but then I was out.
The next thing I knew I had the strong urge to empty my bladder. It occurred to me that surgery must be over and that I was now probably fitted with a catheter. I wasn't able to keep my eyes open but I could tell that my husband was by my side and I needed to let him know that I didn't know how to use the catheter. I found out later that I told him this several times in a row before switching to the stance of "the catheter is the easiest part". After surgery my husband, my parents and one of my friends were all able to come visit me in the recovery area. I knew they were there but I couldn't keep myself from falling asleep mid-conversation. I would chat with them, fall asleep and then wake up a while later asking the nurse to please call my family to come back to see me. This went on for quite some time until I was coherent enough to understand that they didn't have any beds available up on the 14th floor and that I would have to just wait until something opened up. After being told I would likely be in the recovery area for around 2 hours I ended up spending almost 6 hours there. I wasn't feeling any pain, just incredibly sleepy.
Finally a bed opened up an a guy with the nickname "big sugar" wheeled me up to my new room. My family and friend were up there waiting for me. I remember them telling me it was ok to keep my eyes closed. I think I took another quick nap and then finally felt a little more aware of my surroundings. I still was not feeling sore or nauseated which were my two biggest fears. I was amused hearing the stories from my husband about talking about the catheter over and over and was very thankful to have everyone there. One by one my visitors went home until it was just me and my mother. She agreed ahead of time to spend the night with me. I ended up walking around the 14th floor twice that evening and felt much better than I expected. I had a catheter, a pain pump, IV fluids and a heart rate monitor on my finger. I kept asking the hospital staff when I would be able to get rid of that stuff. The first night I slept a lot but only in short bursts.
If you haven't yet picked up on the foreshadowing, my hospital stay did not end up being all kitties and rainbows. I'll update you on the rest of my stay soon. Thanks to those of you that were checking in on me. I was able to read your messages and texts and emails and they were all very encouraging.
Last Wednesday was my final appointment before surgery. I was scheduled to meet the surgeon at his office for a 2:00pm appointment. I arrived super early (as I normally do) and ended up waiting well over an hour to see him. Whilst in the waiting room, I was entertained by a man who fell asleep and was snoring loudly. Once the nurse came to fetch the sleeping guy he awoke with an exceptionally loud snore and the nurse laughed and asked him if he was taking a cat nap. Since the doctor was running so far behind, I can see why that dude fell asleep.
This was the one appointment that I had no idea what to expect. Would he be doing a physical? Did they need a blood or urine sample? Would he be marking me up with a sharpie to show me where the scars would be? Turns out it was just a chat. Dr. Arnold looks like he came straight off the set of Grey's Anatomy. He is younger and cooler than I was expecting. (Sorry to all the surgeons out there that I wrongly stereotyped as being old and frumpy) He even has a cool guy haircut.
Dr. Arnold explained to me what would take place during surgery. A new bit of information I learned is that this will be a robotic laparoscopy. Meaning that instead of Dr. Arnold controlling the laparoscope arm things, he will be controlling a robot and the robot will be controlling the laparoscope arm things. In my mind I was immediately imagining an 80s sci-fi silver boxy robot with a scalpel but I'm fairly certain it's a bit more advanced than that.
The surgery portion will only take about an hour and a half to two hours. I was surprised by this because I was told it would be more like 3-4 hours. He said that time window also accounts for getting me anesthetized (I had to look up the correct spelling of anestheized) as well as getting me "positioned on the table". I will be lying on my back when the anesthesia is administered but according to Dr. Arnold, they will then take 10 to 15 minutes to position me for surgery and I'll end up laying on my right side bent all funny on the table. Nobody wants to think about themselves being flopped around on a table while unconscious and nudey but oh well.
Dr. Arnold was super helpful and answered all of my questions. My appointment with him lasted about 20 minutes and then I was on my way back home. The one question I forgot to ask was what kinds of patients will be on the floor where I am recovering? Since there are only 1 or 2 kidney transplants a week, it's not like it will be a floor full of kidney donors. I know nurses are all superheroes and can do anything but I was curious about what types of patients they were used to treating on the 14th floor. I asked the donor coordinator and was happy to hear that the 14th floor is for transplant patients and that it houses liver and kidney donors and recipients.
With only 2 days to go until surgery I am still feeling great about this whole thing. I have been blessed with friends and family that are all very supportive and encouraging. I even received a call this week from a friend who is being tested to donate a kidney to someone they know. Their decision has nothing to do with me but it was nice to have a buddy who might soon be going through this whole process too.
I am off of work tomorrow and planning to spend the day packing, doing laundry, cleaning the house and drinking a lot of water. My plan is to document as much of my time in the hospital as possible but it may happen a few days after the fact depending on how I am feeling.
Surprise! I already finished my pre-op appointment. The hospital in New Jersey was asking for some pretty random blood tests that can take up to 5 days to get the results back. Rather than keeping my appointment for next week and crossing our fingers that the results would come back in time, they went ahead and moved my pre-op up a week.
My first stop was "pre-admit". I registered and waited for the donor coordinator to come with the special blood vials that would make their way to New Jersey. Once I signed a bunch of forms I was taken back for blood work. This was a new personal record for me...19 vials of blood drawn in one sitting. Good thing I had my protein bar for breakfast. Not sure what all of those are for but I know one is to make sure I don't have West Nile Virus, which would be a real bummer.
Next they ushered me into another room for an EKG. The EKG technician was a super nice lady named Vera. I noticed that there was a plaque on the wall honoring her for her 45 YEARS of service at Baylor. Wow! I told her that was awesome and congratulated her on her 45 years. She said, "Thanks, but it's actually 48 now." BAM! Even though I was only in there for a few minutes it was fun to hear her talking about the old times and how much things have changed. She said even though it has been 48 years, it feels like she started just yesterday. Kudos to Vera for being so stinkin' cool.
Last stop was a chest X-Ray which lasted approximately 2 seconds. They cut all of my cool paper bracelets off and sent me on my way.
While the donor coordinator was there, I took advantage of the situation to get a few of my questions answered.
1. At what point after surgery will I be able to sleep on my stomach? Answer: Whenever I feel like it.
2. When will I be able to see my family before and after surgery? Answer: They can stay with me up until they wheel me off to the OR and I will be able to see them again in the recovery room. I was also pleased to find out that the surgeons really try to keep the family informed about progress even during the surgery. They will be able to call my husband and give him progress reports, so that's nice.
3. Uh, do I need to bring slippers or something? (I was really coming at them with the hard hitting questions) Answer: If I want to I can.
4. What time is surgery and when do I need to arrive at the hospital? Answer: 7:30am and 5:30am.
I also asked for some information about the recipient. I know they can't tell me too much due to privacy issues but I am hoping to at least know gender and approximate age. I'm expecting an email later today with some more schedule information as well as a few tid bits about the recipient.
My only remaining appointment before surgery is a meeting with the surgeon next Wednesday. I'm looking forward to meeting with him. Only 13 more days people!
Remember in my last post when I mentioned that I was a little hesitant to give the update because things can change so quickly? Well, things changed.
I received an email a few weeks ago letting me know that the chain had fallen apart...again. I was super bummed. I had mentally prepared for an October 27th surgery, I had coordinated volunteers to cover for me at work during my recovery time and so it was a real let down when I found out surgery wasn't happening. Then, instead of being stubborn and selfish, I remembered that God's plans are bigger and better than my own and started to relax a little bit.
My information was put back into the Matchy Match Computer (not the real name) to hopefully find a new match. Hurray! A new match was found on the first day! That meant I was headed back to Baylor for more blood work and was glad to be moving forward again. My first question when I got to Baylor was, "what the heck happened with the match in Charlotte?" Turns out the reason the chain fell through was because that lady got a new kidney! She was matched with a deceased donor and she was able to have the transplant immediately. My next questions was, "what the heck is the deal with my new match?" (ok, I didn't really say that). So those plans that God has?? Yeah, definitely bigger and better. The new match is a person in New Jersey. My kidney will go to New Jersey. That recipient has a donor that will give their kidney to a match in Atlanta. That Atlanta recipient has a donor that will give their kidney to another person in Atlanta. That other Atlanta recipient has a donor waiting to be matched to start a whole new chain. More links on the chain means more lives saved. The Charlotte match was just a 1 way chain whereas this one is a 4 way chain that ends with a bridge donor waiting to start another chain. Bigger and better. Giddy up.
My new surgery date is November 3rd, only one week after the original surgery date. Also, since the time of my last post, our family found, purchased and moved into a new house. It has been a crazy few weeks (with some more craziness coming up in November) but I look forward to moving on to the next steps in this process. I will be doing my pre-op appointment the week of October 26th so my next post should be happening at that time. Thanks again for all of the support and prayers and words of encouragement!
So, kinda big update everybody! I've been informed that I am slated for surgery on October 27th.
I hesitated a little bit before writing this post because I've already learned that things can change quickly and didn't want to provide false updates. Then it occurred to me that the whole point of writing any of this in the first place was to inform others about the process (and maybe hopefully possibly encourage someone out there to consider maybe hopefully possibly looking into kidney donation themselves) and that leaving out parts of the story just because they might change kind of defeats the purpose. So I shall continue.....
A couple of days ago I emailed my coordinator to see if she had gotten any word back on the blood work that was sent to North Carolina. She told me that the crossmatch was negative (which is good) and that she had a call scheduled for that afternoon to discuss the exchange. The next day I told myself I was going to wait until noon before I emailed again to check on things. I made it all the way until 8:30am before I caved and sent an email trying to be breezy and casual: "Did you find out anything noteworthy during the call yesterday?" She immediately responded with:
Yes! I think this may well happen! You were approved by the committee in Charlotte. All other centers are on board. They are proposing a surgery date of October 27th with preops on October 21st. Are you ok with that?
I had a few big thoughts hop and pop into my brain when I read my email. The first thought was "Woo hoo! Full steam ahead!" I was excited that we were progressing further to the end goal which was the surgery. My next thought was that October 27th is two days before my birthday meaning that I would be spending my birthday in the hospital. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than celebrating someone receiving a new kidney. My third thought was a little more yikes-y. My husband and I sold our house and our moving day is November 2nd. As of today we haven't found a new house sooooooooo in theory I could be leaving the hospital and heading to a relative's house instead of my own home. Not my first choice BUT definitely do-able. The house search continues and I am praying and hoping that we can find a new house early enough to move into before surgery but if not I am thankful for the blessing of relatives and friends who are willing to potentially take us in if needed.
When I started this process, I was warned that there would be lots of ups and downs. In the last couple of weeks I've experienced a little bit of kidney whiplash. Things were chugging along in the right direction with my match and corresponding kidney chain in Nebraska. I received an email from my Transplant Coordinator asking me for a timeline of when I might prefer to have surgery. I immediately got super excited until I read her next sentence which said something like, "don't get too excited because we are still in the beginning stages of planning". Oh. I told her that sooner was better for me and that the only issue was that my mother (who will be helping my husband and I during my recovery time) would be out of town for a week in October. My point was that ideally surgery would be at least 2 weeks before she was out of town, or not until her return. The coordinator told me that due to the schedule of the surgeons at Baylor, surgery would most likely not take place before that October date. She informed me that she was having a "logistics" call with the other coordinators at the other hospitals in the chain and would let me know how it went. I was also asked to do another 24hr urine collection (lovely) and would need to come back in for a few more labs.
On the day of the scheduled call, the coordinator emailed me to say that the chain had fallen apart and that they would now be looking for a new match for me. What? How could that happen so quickly? I wrote her back with a few questions and discovered via auto response email that she would be out of the office for the next 10 days. So I had a lot of questions and no answers. More waiting.
I received my 24hr urine collection jar in the mail. My 5 year old son thinks having to pee in a jar for an entire day is worthy of a few giggles. I scheduled my lab work to take place the day after my collection. The day of the urine collection also happened to be my son's first day of Kindergarten. I had been drinking lots and lots of water. We only live about half a mile from the school so we walk instead of driving. Well, about halfway through my walking trek to pick him up in the afternoon, I realized that my bladder was not going to make it the entire round trip. I called my parents house and asked my poor mom to come pick us up and drive us the half mile home so that I could make it to my collection jar without wetting my pants.
The following morning I drove downtown with my now full jar of pee. I was called back to the lab area and said hello to my favorite phlebotomist Candace. She took my jar and asked for another urine sample. I was waiting for her to do my blood work and saw her pull out vial after vial and line them up on the table next to me. Just then my sweet, wonderful coordinator entered the room. I asked her to update me on the situation. Turns out one of the surgeons for one of the other transplant centers was demanding that the first surgery (my surgery) take place within a week. Uh, no. All of the coordinators told him that was not possible for many different reasons and he would not relent. Apparently that call ended with the chain falling apart. It hurts my head and my heart to think that the insistence and arrogance of one surgeon may have literally caused someone their life. Now that poor patient is back at square one as well as the other patients in the chain. I don't really understand why they couldn't just remove that one link from the chain and keep going but I guess the "weak link" may have been my match in Nebraska.
Turns out I am easy to match because they had already located a new match for me. This recipient is a lady in Charlotte, North Carolina. After extracting an additional 14 vials of blood for cross matching and other tests, they will ship that off to Charlotte and if all looks good we'll start planning for surgery again.
This journey has been so fascinating to me. There are parts that I don't really understand but I have to have faith that God will send my kidney where it needs to go. I am still praying for the man in Nebraska and also for the woman in North Carolina. I am praying for the teams of brilliant and dedicated people involved with life saving surgeries all over the world and am thankful to be just a small part of the process. I look forward to hearing back about the test results and will keep you all updated when I know more.
Well, That was Quick
Last Friday I was informed that my kidney is being relocated to Nebraska! They found a match! As of right now I know it is a male and he lives in Nebraska. That's all I know about the recipient. I was so incredibly excited when I found out. I am still blown away at the entire process and how they can do some tests on a person in Texas and bleep, blop, bloop, enter some info into a computer and BAM! matching kidney. So, so cool.
I am in a paired kidney donation program which I have put off writing about just because it is kind of hard to explain but I will attempt to do so because it is the best part. If my explanation doesn't make sense you can do your own research on the internet. Again, I recommend the website "Google"
Here we go...
Let's say Bob needs a new kidney and his wife Bobbette wants to donate hers. Well, turns out Bobbette isn't a good match for Bob but she says, "as long as Bob gets a kidney, I will donate MY kidney to someone else."
Now we have Mark. Mark needs a kidney and his sister Martha wants to donate hers but it turns out Martha isn't a good match for Mark but says, "as long as Mark gets a kidney, I will donate MY kidney to someone else."
So, I, Karen could give my kidney to Bob; Bobbette could give her kidney to Mark; Martha could then give her kidney to someone else who needs one and so on and so on. (Assuming all of those pairs are matches for one another) It allows people who have a willing friend or family member that are unable to donate to their own person to be paired with someone else. These paired kidney chains could involve only a couple of links or a whole bunch of links (I read about one chain that was 60 people long! Incredible.)
Being an altruistic donor means I get to be the first link in the chain setting off a literal chain reaction! My kidney will go to Nebraska where they will transplant it into the recipient. Then his friend or family member will have surgery to remove their kidney and send it to the next link in the chain and so on. Yay science! Yay coordination! Yay computers!
This morning I went to the hospital to have my cross matching blood work done. They'll send my blood to Omaha and assuming all of the other links in the chain have favorable cross matching results we'll start planning for surgery.