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My Organ Donation Journey - Chapter 5

Nobody said it would be easy

I admit it. The thought of having a body part removed was a little scary.  But I have a wonderful guide.

From the start, Maureen Bell, a kidney transplant coordinator at VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center, has been my navigator. She is a delight — warm, kind, and like many nurses, no-nonsense. I like all those things about her—but most of all, I trust her.

The approval process seems to be designed to ferret out any reason why I should not donate an organ, including physical, social and emotional factors.  In case you’re curious, here are just some of the tests and screenings that I had over the past three months:

  • Many, many blood tests
  • All the typical cancer screenings
  • Several physical exams
  • Interviews with two social workers
  • Psychological evaluation
  • CT scan
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG
  • Stress test
  • ECHO cardiogram

The culminating event was a nuclear imaging study to evaluate my kidney function.  It’s official. I now glow in the dark.

Every time felt annoyed or frustrated by the delays and all the poking and prodding, I reminded myself of this simple fact: No matter how I am feeling, the people who need an organ and their loved ones are feeling one hundred times worse. So, no whining permitted.  I am the lucky one.

I suspect that my age and status as an altruistic donor made the transplant team even more cautious and conservative.  Now that I have jumped over all the hurdles and passed all the tests, I feel absolutely confident that I am fit and physically prepared to handle the surgery.  I not only trust Maureen, I trust the process.

I continue to feel one other thing—incredibly grateful. Good health is a gift.  And I am very fortunate to be ABLE to donate.

If you are feeling blessed with good health and you have a big, fat, pink kidney to spare, let me know. I would welcome the opportunity to introduce you to Maureen and see if you too can be among the lucky ones who can give someone else a second chance at life. Email me at sdubuque@ndp.agency.

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