I haven’t posted for a while. Partly, its been because I’ve been a bit too busy.
Well, I have some time now. The next few days will mark a new milestone in my life. On Wednesday, I’m scheduled to be the donor in a renal transplant operation. The recipient is my father.
This post is about why I decided to be the donor.
At first, I decided to do it just as a matter of course. I didn’t really think about it; it just seemed like a natural thing to me. It was the gold standard treatment, I was blood group compatible - of course I would donate. It never occurred to me otherwise.
But during the transplant work up process, I was asked repeatedly “why? why do you want to donate?”
Well, last week, my father began dialysis. The catheter insertion process was straightforward. But then, they scheduled him for his first dialysis. That night, I went down to the dialysis center to see him.
Now, I had been to the dialysis center many, many times in my professional capacity as a cardiology registrar. But on that day, that night, walking there to see him, I opened my eyes and really, really looked around - not just at the one patient I was scheduled to see, but at everyone there - the nurses, the patients, the equipment. I looked at their faces, at what they were doing, and I looked at my father.
He was lying in bed, looking quiet, pensive. He was pale; the dialysis had made him feel sick. I was later told this was common for someone just beginning dialysis. More importantly though, this wasn’t the man I knew as my father. The man I knew as my father was active, in control, someone who knew what he wanted out of life and what he was doing. This wasn’t the same person.
It made my realize what my mother had always said - health is something you only really value when you don’t have it anymore.
Although on some level, I know that my parents are getting older and they won’t always be fit, and eventually they will pass on, I’m not prepared for that yet. I want my father to be the man I still picture him to be. I would never say to him that I love him, because I wasn’t brought up to be open with my feelings - but I think that if I do, then it means nothing unless I am prepared to back it up with action.
And that’s why I want to be his renal donor.
I also want to use my experience to urge everyone who reads this to think about transplantation, and in countries where transplantation is “opt-in”, to carry a transplant donor card. Because some day, you or someone you love may need a transplant. If so, you may end up being being grateful for the kindness of a stranger who consented to give their organs to help you.