Monday, December 12, 2016

Milestone Monday-Kidney Recipient Becomes World Transplant Games Federation Ambassador

Kidney transplant recipients are making history all over the world.  Here's an article from last week:

Kidney transplant athlete to inspire other patients on road to recovery 
NICHOLAS MCBRIDE  December 9, 2016 Click to see article as it appeared. 
Photo was supplied

Kidney transplant patient Matthew Field, left, at Soldier Field, Chicago, during the All Blacks vs. Ireland rugby game in November. Field was on the of the World Transplant Games Federation ambassadors introduced during halftime.

A man whose life turned around when his sister donated him a kidney now hopes to inspire others.

Matthew Field, 29, spent three years waiting for a kidney, when a transplant from his sister Ruth gave him a new lease on life.

Murray Wilson/Fairfax NZ
In 2011, Field was on dialysis, hooked up to a machine to keep him alive. Five years later he was able to compete in the Australian Transplant Games.

The Palmerston North man went over to compete in September and he came back with six golds.

He is now hoping to inspire others to glory as an ambassador for the World Transplant Games Federation. 

Field was selected as one of the 12 people in the world to become the first ever Fit for Life ambassadors.

The ambassadors were officially launched at the All Blacks versus Ireland rugby match in Chicago during halftime. 

"It just hit you."

Field will cover all of New Zealand and all manner of transplants.
 He will be tasked with finding other transplant patients and helping them be more active, while also raising awareness for organ donation.

It was a bit daunting prospect, but one he relished.
Hopefully it can boost people's quality of life and make people more aware of organ donation. It is proven that exercise helps the organs last longer."

Having been through a transplant himself, Field hoped his experience would relate to others and guide their exercise. For the most part, it was common sense, he said.

Though he had been active before he went on dialysis, post transplant meant starting from scratch.
"It was pretty hard at the start, but every transplant patient is going to have problems early on."

Field said it was a mix of being careful but seeing how far you could push yourself.
Eventually he began to become more and more stable.

For him, overcoming the social anxieties had been another barrier. "Just having the confidence to get back into it."

Being an ambassador was a chance for him to share those experiences with others and hopefully help and inspire some along the way, he said.

What about you? Do you know any living donors?  Want to recognize their efforts?  Let me know.  I'd love to include a post about them.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Transplant Thursday-So You Are Thinking About Donating

Are you curious about donating a kidney to someone? Welcome. I donated to my cousin almost two years ago.  I would never have considered myself donor material. Most of that is due to the incorrect image that I had of donors. Once I talked with my cousin, I learned that I just might be eligible.

According to the Living Kidney Donors Network, a living donor must be physically fit, in good health, free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease and heart disease.

Individuals considered for living donation are usually between 18-60 years of age. (Living donors older than 65 years of age have successfully donated.)

Routine tests are always performed to determine not only the potential donor's level of physical and mental health, but also their compatibility with the patient awaiting a transplant. Results of these tests will determine if someone could donate.

Living donation occurs only when there is informed consent that is freely given. This means, you should agree to be a living donor only after you have been fully educated on the subject, its risks and rewards, and when your agreement to donate is without pressure from other people.

So, if you are the least bit curious, here are 5 important things to know:  Many people say that they are going to get tested, but not all do.  For many, the reasons are the result of a lack of information.
  1. Your initial questions can be answered by the hospital's transplant coordinator. Call the hospital where your friend/loved one/etc. is registered. 
  2. From the moment that you speak to any of medical professionals until the moment that they wheel you in for surgery (if you choose to go that far), you are under no obligation to donate.   As a matter of fact, every person that is involved in your screening and testing will tell you that. 
  3. The testing and transplant is covered under the recipient's insurance at no cost to him/her.
  4. Once you pass the initial screening, you will be assigned your own donor transplant team.  They do not meet with/consult/collaborate with the recipient's team.  This ensures that your wishes are honored.
  5. Here's my favorite: Most kidney transplant surgeries are done as a laparoscopy.  This means small incisions and great recovery time.
Check back each week for the next installment in Transplant Thursday.  I'll include information about the steps in donating so that you can make an informed decision. In the meantime, write a comment below. Tell me a little about the reason why you're considering donating.  I'd love to hear your story! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Milestone Monday-Taking Transplant Stories on the Road

My recipient, Denise Brown, and I are approaching the second anniversary of our kidney transplant.  It has been life changing for both of us.  Previously, I shared the wonderful news that Denise has just become a grandmother.  It's a thrill to know that she's healthy enough to take care of her grandson.

This weekend, I had my first official speaking engagement about our kidney transplant journey. Our church's (St. Pius X Catholic Church, Conyers, Georgia) women's group invited me to speak at our Advent by Candlelight program.  It was an honor to be among them and share the transplant journey.

I enjoyed connecting with several of them after the presentation.  Many of them have been reluctant to register as an organ donor on their license. There were several misconceptions.

I was thankful that in addition to information from The Living Kidney Donor Network, I also had material from Donate Life Georgia.

This season, I am grateful for my own health.  Many are not so lucky.  Until there is a cure for kidney disease, I will continue to speak to as many groups as individuals about the critical need for more donors.

What about you? Do you belong to a group that would benefit in learning more?  I would love to talk to you about booking an event.  Click here for my email.  I usually respond within 24 hours.

P.S. Are you registered as an organ donor? If not, click here to learn more.