90) Annual Transplant Physical

January 12, 2007

Renal Transplant Center:
Got my annual physical today (EKG, blood work, chest X-ray, and poking and prodding) by the Head Doc, Dr. Lewis. At the end I had a longish conversation with Dr. Lewis, the Transplant Nephrologist for our region. He concluded again, as last year, that I am an “excellent candidate for transplant” and he wondered if I had found anyone to donate their kidney to me yet. I said I had had two interested people who weren’t a match and am still looking and publicizing my needs via my BLOG… which would be this very one.

As part of our conversation about the miserable condition of our regional kidney program, Dr. Lewis said there are currently 2000 people waiting for transplants in our region (Austin, San Antonio, and down to the Rio Grande valley). He told me the story of how things have gotten worse over the years: that originally Austin was one of the first areas to do kidney transplants and the Austin community (doctors, patients, relatives and community interest groups) had done all the work to organize and administer a well-functioning program. Then in the 90’s the feds decided to regionalize the nation and put Austin into a region with SA and southwards. According to Dr. Lewis, SA and southwards has done a poor job of publicizing and marketing organ donation and because of that most of the organs up for giving still come from Austin, but now they go to a much larger region, which hurts Austin. He continued that SA and southward just aren’t able to market organ donation successfully and I offered that perhaps it has something to do with the proportion of Catholics in that area. Dr. Lewis said he didn’t know what it has to do with, but he wishes Austin could find a way out of the region and get back to doing work just for our community.

We also discussed the coming change that will allow trades among prospective donors who don’t match their donees. According to the doctor, we are this (fingers ¼ inch apart) close to being able to trade donors, and it doesn’t have to do with a legal change; just with organizing and computerizing the procedures. Dr. Lewis doesn’t think that donor trading will make a huge difference in the finding of donors or in increasing the total number of transplants. He thinks there are just too many variables involved that continue to mess up the process.

He also reported to me that the way people are chosen for available cadaver kidneys is by length of time on the list first. Then, the criteria is the match, and only in very few instances is the need considered over the time or the match.

I also touched base with David the social worker, who gave me some marketing bumper stickers. The transplant coordinator (Alisa) warned me to get ready for a donor; saying, “Those bumper stickers’ll have people knocking at your door.” I’m a bit less convinced, but do like a sticker or two on my truck. That’s it for now.

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