A Patient's Perspective
My Kidney Donation: Unexpected Twists
Am Fam Physician. 2019 Jun 1;99(11):672.
Some years ago, a close family friend told me his chronic kidney disease had progressed and he would need a new kidney to avoid dialysis. I volunteered to donate my kidney, and as it turned out, I was a near perfect match. But, our celebration did not last long. While I was being worked up for surgery, the transplant team found some ureteral abnormalities that made me ineligible for the donation.
A few years later, I began experiencing flank pain, which was bad enough to send me to the emergency room. I was told my right kidney was no longer functional and would have to be removed. The surgery went smoothly. It was hard to believe that a nephrectomy could seem like minor surgery (although admittedly, recovery was slow).
Still, this was not the outcome I had hoped for: instead of losing my kidney to give life, my surgery brought me face-to-face with my own mortality. Fortunately, I am now in good health. I am working again and have rejoined my running group. To our great joy, my friend finally reached the top of the transplant list and is doing beautifully with his new kidney.—M.K.
M.K.'s story brings to mind Johanna Shapiro's definition of empathy: an engaged act in which “the physician must draw closer to the patient, putting the interests of others above those of self, even at some sacrifice to oneself.” M.K, a physician herself, is one of those people for whom altruism is a natural way of life. She inspires us to reenvision the reach of relationship-centered care, while reminding us that even when things do not turn out as we intend, we are all connected in unexpected ways.
National Kidney Foundation: https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/beadonor
Reese PP, Allen MB, Carney C, et al. Outcomes for individuals turned down for living kidney donation. Clin Transplant. 2018;32(12):e13408.
Tong A, Chapman JR, Wong G, Kanellis J, McCarthy G, Craig JC. The motivations and experiences of living kidney donors: a thematic synthesis. Am J Kidney Dis. 2012;60(1):15–26.
This series is coordinated by Caroline Wellbery, MD, Associate Deputy Editor, with assistance from Amy Crawford-Faucher, MD; Jo Marie Reilly, MD; and Sanaz Majd, MD.
A collection of Close-ups published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/closeups.
The editors of AFP welcome submissions for Close-ups. Guidelines for contributing to this feature can be found in the Authors' Guide at http://www.aafp.org/afp/authors.
Copyright © 2019 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact email@example.com for copyright questions and/or permission requests.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions