GEORGIA - There’s a simple solution that could save the lives of the 4,870 Georgians currently waiting for a kidney transplant: living organ donation. Yet, the number of transplants performed remains constrained by the limited number of people willing and able to donate a kidney. To raise awareness of this issue, Megan Parker, RN, BSN, of Piedmont Transplant Institute, debunks a number of myths about living kidney donation.
1) Myth: I won’t be able to maintain my active lifestyle after donating a kidney.
False. Most living donors go home within 24-48 hours after surgery and report feeling back to normal by the second week. However, it is recommended living donors don’t do any heavy lifting for six weeks. After that time, many resume their normal exercise routine and activity.
2) Myth: While I’d like to donate a kidney, the cost of all the required medical care is too high.
False. The kidney recipient’s insurance covers preliminary testing, surgery and more.
3) Myth: I’m not a match. Therefore, there’s nothing I can do will help my loved one get a transplant.
False. If you’re not a match for a loved one, you can participate in paired exchange. This allows you to donate a kidney to someone else who has a living organ donor that would, in turn, donate a kidney to your loved one. Even if you’re not a candidate for kidney donation, you can help your loved one spread the word.
4) Myth: I can only donate a kidney to someone who is the same ethnicity as me.
False. It doesn’t matter what gender, race or ethnicity you are. You don’t even have to be a family member to donate a kidney to someone. What matters is blood type. From there, a series of compatibility tests will tell us whether your kidney is a match for someone who needs one.
5) Myth: If I donate a kidney, I’m at increased risk for health issues later in life.
False. A living donor’s risk of developing kidney failure following donation is less than 1 percent. Living kidney donors typically follow up with a primary care physician yearly to maintain good health.
Currently, there are nearly 97,000 people waiting for a kidney transplant in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Last year, 158 Georgians became living kidney donors.
“The majority of living organ donors in Georgia last year were white women,” Parker said. “While race or ethnicity doesn’t determine whether you will be a match for a loved one, there increasingly is a need more diversity in organ donation as 74 percent of those on the kidney transplant waiting list in Georgia are minorities.”
For more information on becoming a living kidney donor, visit piedmont.org/livingdonor.