There is a fabulous article in today’s New York Times about a kidney chain. It both provoked my interest in kidney chains and made me reflect on my hospital experiences.
I happen to know what a kidney chain is because I watch all the TV hospital programs. The beloved husband calls them “soaps” but I have learned a lot. After all, the shows have medical advisors so whatever appears there is true, isn’t it?
For those who don’t know, a kidney chain is when someone needs a kidney but the person willing to donate a kidney to them is not a match. They go on a donor chain list and the person needing the kidney will get one from someone else if his donor agrees to donate to a complete stranger. This creates a chain of transplants from living strangers. Getting a kidney from a living donor is a better deal than a cadaver.
This particular chain involved 60 people cross-country which is huge. In fact, I am astounded everything went as planned. My personal experiences with hospitals haven’t always been fabulous.
My experiences — For my first breast cancer surgery, the hospital lost me. No one could tell the beloved husband where I was because the staff didn’t know. (I was behind curtain G waiting and waiting.) My surgery was scheduled for 7 a.m. and he couldn’t find me at 3 p.m. It was a 45 minute surgery. He was just about to visit the morgue when they located me. They actually didn’t wheel me into the operating room until after 5 p.m.
Then there is always the problem finding a vein to secure an intravenous line or I have to pee when they are ready to wheel me in. I don’t want to gross anyone out during the surgery.
Back to the kidneys — Now the ethical question is would you do this? Would you donate a kidney to a stranger so that your loved one would get one from someone else? Or would you donate a kidney out of kindness? The practical answer is that you don’t know until you are in the situation. Maybe you would.
More experiences — I am not sure I would. I have a really small kidney. I had x-rays done many years ago and the doctor said, “Wow, your left kidney is really small.” Nothing else. Is this a problem? Do I need a will?
That was 25 years ago and as far as I know my kidneys are just fine. I call them Mutt and Jeff. Since I know which one Mutt is, I tilt to the right whenever I have a margarita so Mutt doesn’t have to contend with filtering alcohol.
I also had a doctor say, “Oops!” during a minor foot surgery. I was wide awake. The surgery was under local anesthesia. Don’t they learn to not say things like that? I spent the rest of the surgery composing my obituary — “Woman Dies Having Soft Corn Removed” or “Woman Bleeds Out from Incredibly Tiny Vein in Small Toe.” Not what I envisioned.
Sometime I will write a post on the doctor who told me I was lucky after I fractured my patella (kneecap). I was in an immobilizer (removable cast) for 4 weeks. Couldn’t drive (it was my right knee) and needed crutches to walk. That doctor is lucky he is still alive but that’s for another day.
Read the article. It will restore your faith in humanity. The various individual stories are interesting. You can get there from the NY Times link above. Just click past the ads and look for the headline.