We just finished Kidney Month, and today marks the beginning of Donate Life Month. For people with PKD, transplantation is never far from our thoughts, so I’m focusing today’s blog on this topic.
When I was in need of a living kidney donor to lift me off death’s doorstep, there was no information or support provided to my family. No informational pamphlets, nobody to call, no organization to share their knowledge and support, not one person to tell us that we were not alone and that there was hope. This is why I share my story. This is why I am passionate about helping others. To let you know that you are not alone, that there is support and most importantly, hope. The PKD Foundation also provides support, like publishing this and other blog entries, to provide information and bridge people to other resources. In this entry I want to share one of these resources for people thinking about transplantation.
In late March, I had the honor of attending an Explore Transplant meeting at UC Davis Transplant Center. Explore Transplant is a nonprofit organization that “helps kidney patients live long, healthy lives.” They partner with care providers nationwide to help people with kidney failure, their family and friends explore transplant and living donation as treatment options.
Explore Transplant’s educational materials are amazing. I am a huge supporter of their mission and appreciate all they do to help patients. I sure wish they were around 13 years ago when I needed them. However, I am very grateful for their hard work and to be able to share their organization with all of you in hopes that it will help you on your journey. They exemplify that there is information, support and hope available to us. If transplant is a part of your life, I hope you will explore transplant, because you’re worth it.
Explore Transplant asked if I would write a journal entry for their website. One of the questions asked was, “What thing would you tell someone who is deciding whether to get a transplant or to donate? Following is an excerpt from my article, in which I answer this question and give my advice for those on dialysis, those about to receive a transplant and for those considering organ donation.
“For the fighters on dialysis, remain hopeful, determined and diligent in finding a living donor because the quality of life post-transplant is indescribable. Sharing your story is the best thing you can do for yourself physically and mentally. It’s easy—just speak from your heart. People connect, understand and relate to heartfelt words. People want to help people. They just don’t always know what to do or how. You never know in life unless you try. I suggest you try. Your life is worth it and in your hands.
“For the fortunate who are about to receive a transplant, the preparation and unknowns of what life will be like post-transplant can be intimidating. Trust that you are strong enough to overcome and adapt to whatever changes need to be made. You are going to receive a second chance at life; not everyone is so blessed to be able to say the same. I hope you live each day to the fullest with a grateful heart and join me in showing donors how much we appreciate our new lease on life.
“For the selfless angels considering donation, I am grateful that you have made it to the point on deciding whether to be a donor. I live my life in hope to illustrate to donors how impactful and life-changing their donation is, how appreciative we (transplant recipients) are of them and how their selfless gift can transform someone’s life. I can never thank my donor enough, so I aim to make her proud of her choice by how I live my life. I hope my life showcases the impact you may have on someone else’s life and encourages you to become a donor. Please consider giving someone else a second chance like I have been so fortunate to have been given. By doing so, a miracle will unfold right before your very eyes. It will be a gift that keeps on giving.”
I encourage you to read my complete journal entry published on Explore Transplant, by visiting: exploretransplant.org/journal-20150401-keefer/
What advice would you share with dialysis patients, those approaching transplant and those considering organ donation?