I got a call yesterday from UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). My nephrologist, kidney doctor, had referred me to them for a kidney transplant screening. While I am a big fan of using denial to not let impending events cloud the present, a call from the transplant center to make an appointment for screening is a difficult time to employ it.
I hemmed and hahed for a while then deferred, wanting to talk to my post liver transplant coordinator first. I needed some hand holding. She was all about going for it, saying what has turned out to be key in my decision making that patients that get the transplant before going on dialysis do much better than those who get it after having started it.
As I am scheduled for a Pre-dialysis class tomorrow, that is a looming probability. So no advantage to wait for the screening. I have at most a year before dialysis, maybe only a few months.
Of course, due to complacency in the general population, there is a shortage of kidneys available for transplanting, Most people just never think about it and if they have a sudden death, they miss the chance to donate.
Current waiting time for a clean healthy kidney is 3 years and lots of folks die waiting. A lady I met while doing adult skating this past winter lost her sister to kidney failure. She was on the transplant list but didn’t live long enough to get one.
The “plus” I have is making an opportunity out of a negative. Hepatitis C is contributing to destroying my kidneys but if an otherwise healthy kidney comes available that is infected with Hep C, they can’t put it into an uninfected person but I could take it. That may jump me up the list.
UPMC pioneered using HCV infected organs in already infected patients as a matter of fact.
So from having already been through screening for my liver transplant, I know the process takes several days of testing and includes fun things like a colonoscopy and an endoscopy.
I suspect I may also need a liver biopsy, as why would they put a good kidney in someone whose liver may be approaching the end of its usefulness, but my post transplant coordinator said that is only 50/50 and up to the doctor. I don’t like liver biopsies, and have had about 4 of them at last count.
At least they should be able to use the kidney biopsy I had recently so that may hurry things along.
The body is such a lot of bother, but essential to do any service.
My post transplant coordinator said there are really only two options — go on dialysis or get a kidney transplant. I told her there was a third — whole body transplant through reincarnation, but naturally, while she was polite, I don’t think she took it as a serious suggestion.
The problem with that of course is the 20 years or more it takes to get the new brain and body developed enough to the point it is usefully productive, but then a few decades of good times so it is a tradeoff.