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Calling All Organ Donors

As most of you know, I have been going through the process of getting on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. I have Polycystic Kidney Disease. In the United States, about 600,000 people have PKD, and cystic disease is the fourth leading cause of kidney failure.

This is probably going to be the driest article I have ever written. I’ll apologize now – because usually I tend to have a sense of humor about everything life has to offer me. But try as I might, I don’t see the humor in kidney disease or in a disease where the only cure is dialysis or a transplant.

In the United States, more than 80,000 people are on the official waiting list, all hoping that someone will die in just the right circumstances and bequeath them the "gift of life." Last year, only 16,517 got transplants: 10,550 with the cadaver organs allocated through the list, and 5,967 from living donors. More than 4,000 on the list, or about 11 a day, died.

(by Virginia Postrel, The Atlantic, July 9, 2009)

For the complete report (that is excellently written), please see

The numbers work like this: Of the 80,000 people needing a new kidney, 21% will get one this year, 36% from living donors and 64% from deceased donors. Of the 80,000 waiting for a kidney, 4,000 will die. Currently there are about 600,000 people in the United States that have PKD – 13% meet the requirements to be bad enough. To qualify for the transplant waiting list, the kidneys have to be functioning at less than 20%. Mine are at 10%.

So – that’s the nitty gritty. Obviously the world needs donors – and lots of them.

I am curious. I have settled into the theory that I will have a cadaver donor kidney. However, there are living donors out there. (I’m not asking for a living donor.) I am curious about you, the living donor. I want to hear your stories. Do you feel blessed by giving something that is very much a part of your body? Are you fearful for your own health? How do you feel if your gift (particularly a kidney) was rejected by the new host’s body? It does happen – that a transplant will be done based on all the right facts, the perfect match, etc., and still the recipient’s body will sometimes reject the new kidney – even with all the antirejection drugs they have to take.

I want to hear your stories. I’d like Dave and I to get a lot of response. That’s my goal – and in the end, I hope my research will encourage you to sign your donor card.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.