Good Samaritan Kidney Donation

Nikki and Kids - Aug 2015Even if a person does not match my blood type, it is possible to still donate and help me, along with a number of other people.

There is the “Good Samaritan” donation. or non-directed donation – when a donor donates to a stranger who has a non-compatible donor. This type of donation can lead to a domino chain that may impact many people. For instance, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has had a living donor chain of 51 donations now – and it all started with an altruistic woman who approached the hospital without having a specific person designed for donation.  She was approved for donation and they found a recipient who had a non-compatible donor. That non-compatible donor donated to someone else and so the chain started. Nebraska recently had a similar chain that included a pediatric recipient.

So, even if you don’t match me, there are still options to help me and others!

While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. 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

Advertisements

Types of Kidney Donations

living  donors rock 1There have been more stories in the news and on social media about living kidney donation. It is great that there has been more exposure on this life-saving procedure. There are three types of living kidney donations: direct donation, paired exchange, and a Good Samaritan donation.

Direct donation: The donor knows the recipient and the kidney goes directly to them.

Paired exchange: The donor gives a kidney to one person in exchange for a kidney for their friend or loved one. Typically, this occurs when the donor does not match (e.g. blood type, etc.) their loved one.

Good Samaritan donation: Here, the donor gives a kidney to a stranger who has a donor that does not match. This initiates a chain of donations and can allow for better matching by the doctors.

While the path to each of these situations may be different, each method of donation can make a huge difference.

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. 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Nikki

Becoming a Kidney Donor

bigaskbiggive_logo_v3Caring 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. 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

Testing, Testing… Houston, We Have a Problem…

Donation HandsSince I am on the kidney transplant list, I have to get checked out every year to make sure I am in good enough health to undergo transplantation if a kidney becomes available. Physician and social work visits and a slew of blood work were completed.

On top of that, since I am getting older, I had to have tests to check my heart – an echocardiogram and a stress test – and a colonoscopy. I got all of this testing done within the last 10 days!

Whew!

Fortunately, everything checked out OK.

So I remain on the list. But we are still looking for a living donor. I am so grateful that people are still calling to do the 15-minute phone screening. Many people have also reached out to me with words of support and encouragement. I also deeply appreciate the people that are spreading the word on social media and in other ways.

However, the transplant waiting list is quite long. While it is a big decision to donate a kidney, living donors can save lives. 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. 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

 

True Confessions of a Kidney Donor

living_kidney_donorAs the donor search continues, I decided to re-run this first-hand account of kidney donation. Hopefully, it will provide an additional viewpoint from someone who has gone through the experience.

A reader of my blog contacted me through Facebook to tell me her story of kidney donation. I am very proud to share her experience here.

I was about to turn 40 and was planning to run a marathon for the Diabetes Association in honor of my uncle when I found out that he needed a kidney. Figured it was easier to donate a kidney than to run 26.2 miles!

My uncle, who had diabetes that was causing kidney failure, made the transplant list in 2007. I live in Georgia and he lived in Pennsylvania. The process started in Georgia, and the kidney transplant department sent me a kit.  I had to have 7 vials of blood drawn and shipped overnight to Pennsylvania to see if I was a match. I don’t remember the magic number of matches to proceed, but my number was higher than the lowest that they allow. Then Piedmont hospital performed my health exam; they screened me inside and out.

I had to collect and measure my urine for 24 hours. So I rolled a cooler to my son’s soccer game, including the container in case I had to go! Once it was definite that I was healthy, we scheduled the surgery around his son’s wedding. Two weeks before surgery, I broke my wrist playing soccer. The cast didn’t stop anything.

I think the meanest thing was that the hospital kidney department gave me a $25 food voucher for the day before the procedure but I was on a liquid diet! The surgery started around 7 am. I was out of surgery by noon. They placed my donated kidney low in his pelvis – almost in front of his leg; he then had 3 kidneys. Fortunately, it worked right away.

Before the surgery, my uncle and I said we would race to see who would visit who first. The day after surgery, I made it to his room just as he was about to get up. I left hospital on the third day (2 nights). The hardest part after the surgery was dealing with air in my abdomen. During the surgery, the surgeon pumps your belly full of air; they use the laparoscopic opening through the stomach to get to the kidney. After surgery, the air is still there and has to slowly go away. I won’t lie – it felt bad—like bad “gas”. However, the walking helped it to dissipate — it only lasted a day or two. I went home on a plane 5 days after surgery.

I did my follow-up appointments in Georgia. I went back to work in 2 weeks and was playing soccer, running, and lifting weights again in 12 weeks. Back to normal.  Now, I do drink alcohol, and I can eat what I want. However, I try to keep it healthy and limit my cokes/sodas to once a week. The biggest adjustment I have had to make is that as a donor, I cannot take any anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen. When I get sick, I make sure the doctor or pharmacist knows that I’m a kidney donor so I can take medicine that won’t affect my kidney. My creatinine is at the level that it would be if I had two kidneys – which is a good thing. And life is great. My uncle didn’t need dialysis and went from being tired and confined to doctors’ offices to living life to the fullest.  I am so glad and proud to be a kidney donor.

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. 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. 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

Hemodialysis is No Joke

hemodialysisI have posted before about dialysis and the challenges associated with it. I typically use peritoneal dialysis which, while time-consuming, can allow you to have something close to normalcy during the day.

But I had to temporarily start hemodialysis. This requires 3 daytime sessions a week of 4 hours at a time hooked up to a blood-cleaning machine. It doesn’t hurt but it is hard to describe what it feels like to be hooked to the machine. While you recognize that it is saving your life, your brain pretty much shuts off for the 4 hours. I thought I was going to work on my novel during that time – but – I haven’t been able to make that happen. You can tell when you look around the dialysis center – most patients are either sleeping or watching TV.  And, when I leave the dialysis center, I am exhausted.

It’s very tough.

But unlike many of the patients on dialysis, my time on hemodialysis is temporary. After a couple of weeks, I hope to be back on peritoneal dialysis. I appreciate the kind words and help from my readers. I hope the peritoneal dialysis is temporary too – a kidney donor could make that happen (hint, hint – part of my 2017 plan!)

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 best help us 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks

 

 

Out with the Old, Transplanting in the New in 2017

christmas_2016Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and a pleasant start to 2017.  My husband and I had a nice, relaxing holiday season with the children and several friends here in the Houston area.

I am excited about 2017 because I want this to be a big year. It is already a big one because I turn 50 this year!

However, there are other big plans for 2017 as well.

I plan to finish my first novel.  I want to get my daughter back into dance classes and to continue to encourage my son to strive for good grades and track excellence. My husband will continue to grow his business, and we are planning to vacation in Hawaii in May.  And the biggest one – I hope to have a kidney transplant this year.

We appreciate everyone’s well-wishes and for those people who are calling in to be tested, we thank you!

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 best help us 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.  They will ask for my birth year, which is 1967.

Be Inspired — Give Life!

Dominique (Nikki) Brooks