As I am anxiously awaiting a phone call from the hospital to tell me when they have scheduled my last round of tests I have been reflecting on what I have gained by starting the donation process.
Part of the kidney donation process is being assigned a donor advocate. Your advocate is basically the person who looks out for your interests during the process and seems to sort of try to dissuade you from adopting. My advocate was quick to point out that donating a kidney had no benefit for ME. That other than the “good feeling stuff” there was no benefit. Personally I think he was way too quick to discount the “good feeling stuff”, but even putting that aside there have already been benefits to me.
One of the things I immediately had to do when starting the screening process was to begin to lose some weight. Hospitals have different requirements, but basically you can’t be fat and donate your kidney. Living with one kidney after surgery is better done if you are in a healthy weight range. I have always been a stress eater and had put on more weight than I would like to admit over the last few years. NOT THAT MY JOB IS STRESSFUL! At first weigh-in I was about 23 pounds over the weight limit for my height to donate my kidney. I have managed to lose all but 5 of those unwanted pounds and expect I will have more than met the goal by the time surgery roles around. This has been a huge benefit to me already and I am committed to continuing to work to get in even better shape as we continue the process and after donating.
Another benefit is that I finally have incentive to stop drinking diet soda. For everyone who knows me personally they know that the amount of diet soda I have been drinking a day for the last 30 years probably qualifies me for some type of Guinness Record. I am the person at the grocery store buying organic veggies and a case of Pepsi max…and yes, I understand the pesticides in the veggies are probably better for me than the chemicals in the soda. I can no longer rationalize that drinking diet soda is just like drinking water and have traded in my soda habit for water. NOT that I am giving up coffee, or tea and other forms of caffeine…lets not get crazy folks!
The last benefit is the assurance after all of this testing that I can be certain that I am in good health. I have never been the type of person who regularly visits the doctor. As you get older you always wonder if there is some hidden health issue and after all this testing I can be reasonably certain I am just fine! Statistically people who donate kidneys live longer than the average population. This has nothing to do with having only one kidney and everything to do with being healthy enough to donate.