I knew going into this process that one big step was a battery of tests to make sure I would be an ideal donor candidate. I remember when my uncle-in-law (is that a thing?) went through this process in 2007 and also remember how worn out he was at the end of the day. My day of testing was scheduled for Monday, June 15. I received a schedule as well as several documents explaining where to go and what to expect. My first appointment at 7:30am and my final appointment was scheduled for 4:00pm with 8 additional appointments in between. It was going to be a long day.
Appointment #1: Nurse Interview - After successfully locating the correct parking garage and building, I was right on time for my first appointment. I met with the intake nurse who basically just wanted another run down of my current medications. This kinda felt like an actual interview and I was worrying way too much about answering correctly. For example, Nurse: "You said you take Tylenol. How much Tylenol do you take?" Me: "Uhhhh, maybe like 4 pills a month if I get a headache? Umm, or sometimes, maybe more like 6 pills a month?" Then I'm questioning myself about whether that's too much Tylenol and wondering if they are just going to tell me to go home because I am a terrible donor because of my 6 pill a month Tylenol habit. Thankfully, they let me continue on to the next appointment.
Appointment #2 and #3: Lab Work and Kidney Donor Coordinator Consult - In the lab I turned in my 24 hour urine collection jar. I was happy to do so since it was pretty awkward carrying around a 2-liter jar of my own pee. Then they took 13, yes, 13 vials of blood and did another urine sample. Fun fact: The phlebotomist (who was amazing by the way) told me she's really not a fan of needles. I thought that was funny.
The Donor Coordinator is about the nicest person I have ever met. She met with me briefly to see if I had any questions yet and to explain a few things about the day and what I could expect.
Appointment #4: Kidney Donor Nephrology Consult - I sat in an exam room and met with the kidney doctor. He explained what a kidney does, why it's important, how it develops, where it's located in the body and all kinds of helpful stuff like that. He also gave me some great statistics about life after kidney donation. I had a couple of questions and then he did a physical exam. He listened to my heart and lungs, looked in my eyes and mouth, asked me to push his hands and then pull his hands and other doctor-y type things. At this point I was again nervous that I would fail his tests and they would ask me to leave. One of the tests was to stand with my feet together and my arms stretched out to either side and close my eyes. I still don't know if I performed well or poorly on that one since I'm not really sure what was supposed to happen.
Appointment #5: Social Worker Consult - They wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy and that I had someone to help me after surgery. Check and check.
Appointment #6: EKG - This took about 2 minutes. They got the results immediately and said they looked great.
Appointment #7 and #8: Kidney Donor Education Class and Kidney Donor Advocate Consult- The students in the class were me and one other dude. I got to the classroom first and when this guy showed up he sat on the complete opposite side of the room. The Donor Coordinator went over tons of great information. At one point she was talking about "pooping and pooting" and she said "pooping and pooting" about 6 times in a row. I thought it was hilarious but my fellow classmate looked quiet uncomfortable. The class also included a 30 minute informational video but it just so happened that I had already found that particular video on the internet and watched it twice so she said I could just go to the next appointment instead. Boom! I met with the donor advocate and asked more questions and got more answers.
Appointment #9: Kidney Donor Transplant Surgeon Consult - This was the actual surgeon. He reminded me of the possible risks associated with surgery and then explained how exactly they would remove my kidney. Then he performed another physical exam and sent me on my way to me final stop for the day.
Appointment #10: CT Angiogram and Chest X-Ray - The CT Angiogram was the only appointment that I was a wee bit apprehensive to do. This is the test where they inject the dye into you so that they can see how your kidneys are "wired" basically. It didn't hurt, but when they injected the dye I immediately feel simultaneously hot and like I had peed in my pants. Glad they warned me that that would happen. Chest X-ray was easy peasy and quick and I was done for the day!
Whew, if that sounds like a lot that's because it was a lot. All of my results would be taken to the transplant committee 5 days later. They would discuss everything and decide if I was a good candidate for donation. I left tired but hopeful that I would be approved.