Many people with diabetes can have problems with their kidneys and this can lead to acute or chronic renal failure. Very often, they need dialysis and the only alternative is a kidney transplant. However, the waiting lists for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor are very long and many dialysis patients can wait for months or even years before finding a suitable match. Life on dialysis can be very restricted, especially when it is necessary to go to hospital for treatment several times a week.
Many dialysis patients are able to have dialysis at home but being able to have a transplant restores a person to a normal life. An alternative to transplant with a kidney from a deceased donor is having a kidney from a living donor. The problem is finding someone who is willing to be a donor and is a suitable match. Many people are willing to donate a kidney to a friend or family member but some can even be willing to donate a kidney to a complete stranger.
Living Donor Donation
If you have a friend or family member with chronic renal failure who is having kidney dialysis you can help them live a more fulfilling life by offering to be a living kidney donor. The number of living donor transplants is increasing all the time and in 2006, 47% of transplants carried out in the United States were from living donors. You can even give a kidney before your loved one starts to need dialysis, as in general the longer someone has been on dialysis the more problems there are with a transplant.
One of the problems with wanting to donate a kidney to a family member or a friend is that you need to be a suitable match. Your blood group and antibodies need to match as much as possible to prevent rejection of the transplant. Although the latest immune-suppressant drugs means that even if you aren't an exact match you can donate a kidney to your friend, there is still the possibility that you may be incompatible for various reasons. However, you can still help your family member by getting involved in a swap to help someone else.
An example of a swap is where two or more couples or family members are compatible with other each other, but not with their own partner or family member. For example, in a three-way swap, person A gives a kidney to person C while person D gives to person E and person F gives to person B. In these types of swaps, the operations are usually carried out simultaneously.
Some people are willing to donate a kidney purely for altruistic reasons. They seek no reward, payment or kidney in return for a friend, and are just happy to know that someone's life has been improved. When someone donates in this altruistic way, transplant surgeons are able to create something called a 'daisy chain'.
A daisy chain is where the altruistic donor is able to donate to someone in a group swap who otherwise doesn't have a match. The operations don't need to be simultaneous which makes it possible to create what surgeons call a 'daisy chain' with many recipients, sometimes as many as 10 or more. These transplants can also be carried out at different transplant centers in the country or even in another country altogether. The National Kidney Registry computer keeps information about willing donors all over the country.