A First Hand Account: Living Kidney Donation

This is a first-hand account from a person who is already a living kidney donor from 2 years ago:

I am a good friend of The Brooks family. When I heard that Nikki is in need of a kidney, I wanted to help her. How? How can I be of help to Nikki? By telling you my story; because I am certain that my story will inspire you to consider yourself as a possible kidney donor for Nikki.

The thought of donating an organ can be intimidating and overwhelming. I should know, as I went through the same emotions. But what I also know now is that if I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. In fact, if I had another kidney to spare, I’d give the gift of life to someone who is badly in need of it.

You see, about two years ago a loved one in my family lost both their kidneys to an auto immune condition. I wanted to see them return back to their healthy life as soon as possible and hence I decided to donate one of my kidneys to them. After undergoing a thorough evaluation, I was deemed a perfect candidate for the donation. And yet, I was a bit concerned and was worried about the impact of donating a kidney to my active life style and the changes I personally would have to make to lead a normal life. And while knowing that the transplant center would not approve a person who is likely to have health complications related to the lack of a kidney later in life as a donor was very helpful, what was reassuring was to talk to someone who has donated a kidney before. There is no substitute to hearing the process and what to expect — before, during, and after the donation — from someone who has been through it all. A couple of donors spent time educating me and allaying my fears and I am paying that forward by offering to spend time with you and walk you through my experience, as you consider doing the most generous act of wanting to donate a kidney to Nikki. 

I was discharged from the hospital the second day after my surgery and started to work the third week after my surgery. Being active, drinking plenty of water, and walking around speeds up the recovery. I have returned to my extremely active life style now; so much so that I don’t feel any different now than when I had two kidneys. The only thing I pay particular attention to is to keep myself hydrated extremely well. Other than that I am living my life the exact same way I did before my organ donation. 

The doctors, nurses, coordinators, and entire transplant program staff assured me that both the donor and the recipient can return back to their normal lives after a transplant. And they were absolutely spot on, as both I and the recipient of my kidney are healthy and leading a very active life.

Nothing can be more fulfilling than to know that your generous act of organ donation saved someone’s life. 

If anyone wants to share their story as a living kidney donor, please send me a message through my Facebook page.

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can help by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor. You can also call the St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly to do the screening at 832-355-4100.  Just tell them your planned recipient is Dominique (Nikki) Brooks.

Thanks for helping us find a living kidney donor.  Please spread the word and/or call us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening or St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly at 832-355-4100 for me, Dominique Brooks.

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What to Expect After Donating a Kidney

Potential kidney donors have been asking what to expect afterwards.  Becoming a living donor does require a work up and a surgical procedure, but the surgical procedure to donate a kidney has evolved over the years. Laproscopic surgery with just 3 or 4 tiny incisions in the abdomen has become the standard procedure for donation in most transplant centers around the USA.

With laproscopic surgery, the donor can usually be discharged from the hospital in 1-2 days and can return to work shortly thereafter depending on the donor’s job.  As with all surgical procedures, there is a small risk of complications but most can be managed by the hospital physicians. The transplant team will work hard to prevent these complications.

The donor will be discharged with pain medication and typically stool softeners but will only have to take them during the immediate recovery period. The kidney donor should be able to return to normal activities – including exercise – approximately 4-6 weeks after surgery (we personally know someone that donated a kidney and quickly went back to running marathons!). There are no dietary restrictions after kidney donation that were not present before the surgery. For women, it is still possible to get pregnant but it would be best to wait for 3-6 months after the donation to let your body adjust to having one kidney.

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can help by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor. You can also call the St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly to do the screening at 832-355-4100.  Just tell them your planned recipient is Dominique (Nikki) Brooks.

A living donor candidate is a person who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and in good general health, have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30, a non-smoker, with no evidence of significant high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease or hepatitis.

Thanks for helping us find a living kidney donor.  Please spread the word and/or call us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening or St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly at 832-355-4100 for me, Dominique Brooks.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

Kidney Donation: The Big Give

Donating an organ is the ultimate gift. However, as living donation is a huge decision, there are often many questions about the process. It’s important that potential donors understand the possible benefits and risks to the process. I am glad to talk to people who have questions but I think that having links to outside information can help someone determine if living donation is right for them.

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can help by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor. You can also call the St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly to do the screening at 832-355-4100.  Just tell them your planned recipient is Dominique (Nikki) Brooks.

A living donor candidate is a person who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and in good general health, have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30, a non-smoker, with no evidence of significant high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease or hepatitis.

Thanks for helping us find a living kidney donor.  Please spread the word and/or call us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening or St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly at 832-355-4100 for me, Dominique Brooks.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

Advantages of a Living Kidney Donation

 Since beginning this search, I have communicated with some really lovely people and some have told me about their experiences as a living kidney donor for either a loved one or a complete stranger. Since 1954, when the first living donor transplant took place, living donors have been making the ultimate gift around the world.

For people in kidney failure, a kidney transplant can extend and improve their lives. Both transplants from living and deceased donors extend lives but living donations have some additional benefits:

  • Living donor kidneys last longer
  • The kidney from a living donor may function better and sooner; kidneys from a deceased donor can take a while to start working
  • The surgery can be scheduled at a convenient time for both the donor and the recipient (and all medical costs are covered by the recipient’s health care coverage)
  • Donating a kidney can free up a kidney from a deceased donor for another person

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can help by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor. You can also call the St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly to do the screening at 832-355-4100.  Just tell them your planned recipient is Dominique (Nikki) Brooks. Even if you are not a match to me, it may be possible to work out a swap with another recipient.

A living donor candidate is a person who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and in good general health, have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30, a non-smoker, with no evidence of significant high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease or hepatitis.

Thanks for helping us find a living kidney donor.  Please spread the word and/or call us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening or St. Luke’s Transplant Department directly at 832-355-4100 for me, Dominique Brooks.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

The Process of Becoming a Living Kidney Donor

Caring people continue to amaze me – either by telling their stories or by offering their support. But a common question that I have been asked has been “Can I donate my kidney and how does that work?” I thought it would be helpful to give a general view of what a living donor evaluation looks like.

  • The recipient’s health care plan covers all of the donor’s costs.
  • Initially, there typically is a simple screening process to ask questions about your health. Issues that can eliminate you at this stage are some health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. However, this can be assessed on an individual basis.
  • Next, you would need a blood test to check blood types. If you don’t match your intended recipient, you can still help with a paired exchange (donate and swap) donation.
  • If you do match, then additional blood tests (called tissue typing and cross matching) are completed to see how well you match the recipient.
  • The potential donor may also undergo a physical examination and sometimes a psychological examination as well as urine and radiology tests.
  • The amount of time needed for these tests vary depending on the transplant center.

Potential donors do have a team of professionals working with them. The goal is to take care of the potential donor, to complete the physical and laboratory evaluations, and to ensure that you are a good candidate. There are also people on this team that you can talk to if you have any questions or concerns about the process. This team also keeps all test results confidential.

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. If you think it might be something that you are interested in, you can help by calling us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening on being a living donor.

A living donor candidate is a person who is healthy, well-informed and makes a voluntary decision to donate one of their kidneys. Living donors must be over 18 and in good general health, have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30, a non-smoker, with no evidence of significant high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease or hepatitis.

Thanks for helping us find a living kidney donor.  Please spread the word and/or call us at 770-310-2426 for info to do a 15-minute phone screening.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks