Preparing for Donation

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Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

If you have now been accepted for donation, welcome to happiness and stress. The happiness is the thought of seeing your recipient restored to health and of perhaps taking walks together or going out to a really nice restaurant or watching a movie or watching him or her now move on with their lives. I had a constant movie rolling through my mind in which I saw my recipient running up hills and walking with family members in the most beautiful landscapes imaginable. The stress is of course some nervousness about the surgery but mostly it is thinking about what you need to get ready.

You may feel daunted by the thought of putting your life on hold and by the many tasks you have to complete before preparation. Preparing for donation is more than just finishing off or handing over projects at work or organising the school runs in your absence. In order to ensure that all goes smoothly you need to tell people what is happening. Your colleagues need to understand that you will be taking some time off and friends will want to know why you will not be coming to dinner. Donating an organ (especially if it is not to a family member) is very personal and in some cases questions of privacy arise. Who should be told besides the family? How will they react?

In my case, I decided to keep the people in the know to a minimum mostly because I was certain that if the operation did not work I would not want to have to recount it to lots of people. As my family was behind me, I also wanted to be sure that anyone else I told would be supportive. I did not need negativity.  I also planned when I inform particular individuals such as my mother, whom  I told only a few weeks before the operation. I did not want her to  worry for long.  She and my friend had never met Taro but I  knew that the moment she met him and his  family she would immediately adopt them, which is exactly what happened and now they are friends.

My decision about who to tell was partly based on geography. Preparation means ensuring that you have a support network in place for the time you are recovering whether that is two weeks or two months. Kidney removal is major surgery and although your recipient is the one whose life is in danger from failed kidneys, your operation is longer and in my case more complicated as well.You will recover because if you have been accepted for donation, you are extremely healthy. The doctors caring for you and looking at your tests are there to protect your health interests not those of the recipient. The recipient has another team of doctors for that.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to know exactly how long before you are completely back to normal so if you do not have family around, you may want to organise some help in advance.  Even if you do have a family to help you then asking a few friends if they would be prepared to step in might be a good idea. After all, your family might appreciate some back up with others collecting the groceries or mowing the lawn or collecting the kids.

Of course, organising help can be its own source of stress so it is a balancing act. In my case, my husband was going to be away a lot and several  people offered to help I also ended up setting up a schedule which I found stressful at the time.  But it sure paid off especially in the days just after leaving the hospital when everyone showed up on schedule and/or dropped by.  It was great to have someone to take a walk with or someone who could run out to the shops so I would not have to. It was also pleasant just to have some company when I was well enough to do everything I needed to do but not quite up to going back to work.

The last week before the surgery I found things closing in so I bought a cheap ticket to Paris and hopped on the train and found it relieved my tension levels enormously in the final days of anticipation.

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