Being Thankful and Giving Back

During this season of Thanksgiving, we’d like to take the focus away from teeth and onto another subject: paying it forward.  

This past August Dr. Dan Driscoll became a kidney donor for one of his dental patients, Matthew Errett. Matthew, who had a kidney transplant at age 2 after being diagnosed with a rare condition, was on the donor list again because his kidney function had recently declined to about 10 percent functionality. But he was having trouble finding a match.

After one of Matthew’s dental appointments, Dan found out he and Matthew had the same blood type. Dan got tested to see if he was a match … and he was! The surgery was performed in August, and both parties are doing well.

“I am hoping that through this donation, I can bring awareness about the importance of kidney donation,” Dan says. “My 79-year-old father has kidney disease and is need of donor, but unfortunately I was not a match for him. There are more than 100,000 patients in the United States in need of a kidney each year, but only about 20,000 kidneys available for transplant each year.”

Below are some important things to know about donating a kidney.

  • There are two ways a kidney may be removed in a surgery called a “nephrectomy.”
  • Laparoscopic donor nephrectomy is the most common technique that allows the removal of the kidney through a few small incisions.
  • Open donor nephrectomy requires a larger incision and may be recommended because of the donor’s anatomy or other characteristics.
  • Serious complications related to kidney donor surgery are rare, but they can occur. As an individual goes through the donor evaluation process, the risks are discussed in detail.
  • The medical costs of donating a kidney are covered by the recipient’s primary insurance, not the donor’s.
  • If you donate a kidney, you may be monitored for complications related to the surgery for up to two years. Routine health maintenance costs will revert to your private insurance carrier.
  • An optimal donor is close to their ideal body weight, has a normal blood pressure without medication, and has no major medical illnesses.
  • Studies have shown that kidney donors do well over time; however, people who have donated kidneys may be more susceptible to the negative health effects of smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. Thus, it is recommended that people who have donated a kidney see their doctor annually, maintain a healthy body weight and refrain from using tobacco products.

If you are interested in donating, contact the Abdominal Organ Transplant Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

  • Colleen Sheehan, RN, BSN, CCTC Living Donor Coordinator. Phone: (336) 713-5685 ; toll free (855) 886-6833
  • Amanda Smith Living Donor Scheduling Coordinator Phone: (336) 713-5685; toll free (855) 886-6833
  • Email: LivingDonation@wakehealth.edu

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