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