Saturday, October 27, 2007

A gallon of urine on the subway.

So, step two of my kidney quest was to go to CPH to meet the team. This consisted of the Donor Coordinator, Psychiatrist, Social Worker, and Nephrologist. In addition, I would have blood drawn for a battery of tests, as well as submit the jug of urine I had collected over the past 24 hours. Living 2 hours north of NYC, I decided to take the train down instead of driving. This meant I was going to have to carry this pee vessel with me on Amtrak to Grand Central, then the Subway uptown, then walk around trying to find where I was going. A doubled up brown grocery store bag was an easy choice for handing the job. Still, I couldn't help but feel uneasy about toting around all that pee. Luckily, I arrived at the hospital not spilling a drop, though I was 45 minutes late.

The first meeting was a psychiatric evaluation. I guess they want to make sure that I'm not donating this kidney in any sort of strange attempt at harming myself. This is the sort of decision that should be made with a clear and sound mind, and it is their responsibility to make sure that is true. I didn't much care for the doctor. Her persistent skepticism seemed insulting after a while, like she could not believe I would want to do this out of the goodness of my heart. Wasn't I concerned that a family member might need my kidney some day? Each of my responses was met with the sort of disbelief a mother gives a child who denies eating a cookie, despite having crumbs on his shirt. I was clearly frustrated with this person, but eventually her time ran out, and we concluded our meeting.

After that I had blood drawn. It took about 5 minutes and was painless and easy.

My meeting with the Social Worker was much more pleasant. She asked a lot of the same sort of questions the shrink asked, only with more warmth and less disdain. She seemed to believe my argument that if more people donated kidneys to strangers, we wouldn'n need to hoard them for future family emergencies. She understood that helping someone like this does more for me than any monetary donation to a charity. She could sense my sincerity when I told her the pain I would endure was a small price to pay to see someone be able to live a full life, free from dialysis. I left our meeting feeling much better about what I was doing, as well as myself.

Next, I met the nephrologist. He laid out the basics behind the surgery: what I can expect, how the surgery is performed, and the implications behind living with only one kidney. Most of the stuff he told me I had already read on the internet, but it was still reassuring to hear it from someone' mouth. The meeting was quick and easy.

Lastly, I met with the coordinator. She was the liason between the team and myself. Though I was free to call any of them myself, she was there to answer any questions I might have and report back any news she received from the team. She also explained the logistics behind the process. She stressed that I was free to cancel my donation at any point, with no hard feelings and no financial backlash. It's important to note that as a donor, all of the bills are covered by the recipient. That includes all the tests, consultations, recovery, everything. I just needed to show up and point them toward my kidney. I was made very comfortable with the whole pocedure, and with this sort of decision, comfort goes a long way.

It was a busy day, and I was happy to go home. A lot of questions were answered, but some new ones popped up. Would I measure up? Were my kidneys healthy enough? Could I maintain my enthusiasm throughout this whole thing? Only time would tell...


steve said...

Ah, the urine jug. I almost had to take mine to work and leave it in the refrigerator. Explaining to your friends that you can't hang out because you need to stay home and pee in a jug is interesting too.

adegiulio said...

Thanks for the comment and reading the blog Steve. Tell all your friends!