A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with My New Kidney

We found her.  A HERO!

I just got out of the hospital after my KIDNEY TRANSPLANT!

It was the best holiday gift ever.  We found my living kidney donor through this FACEBOOK page and blog.

It’s amazing – I feel so blessed – that she stopped and read about me, called in, and followed the doctors’ multiple requests to get ready for the surgery. I can’t emphasize how much this means to me and my family – or how much she herself means to me. I don’t think I can thank her enough!

After the surgery, my kidney donor checked out of the hospital the following day.

We have become friends and plan to go to the beach together soon!

I want to thank everyone who read this blog, left encouraging comments, spread the word, or called in to ask about being tested. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Now that I have had the transplant, it’s not over…

I will need to recover and start getting back to my new normal.  It has been tough to exercise while on dialysis.

Now that I am 50 years old, I want to get healthy again – exercising, eating better, and fully participating in my life. If I can do it, anyone can. I am going to chronicle my journey and I invite you to follow along – and participate!

Also, I want to be a voice for people with kidney failure and transplants. As a doctor, having been on both sides of the situation, I have insights that might help both the patient and medical communities. I am still working on my vision but will definitely keep you up to date through this page.

Here’s to a happy and healthier 2018.

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Good Samaritan Kidney Donation

Even 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

Types of Kidney Donations

There 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

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. 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…

Since 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