February 22, 2019
Westwood, Kan. — The transplant team proudly hosted the area’s first THE BIG ASK: THE BIG GIVE workshop to provide ideas and education on how those in need of kidney transplants can seek living donors. This National Kidney Foundation initiative was presented in partnership with The University of Kansas Health System and Midwest Transplant Network.
Dozens of patients awaiting kidney transplants attended the workshop. The session focused on how patients and their families can build social networks among friends, colleagues and even strangers to help spread the word about patients' needs.
In 2018, living donors accounted for about 1/3 of the kidney transplants performed at our health system That's up sharply from previous years. With about 100,000 patients awaiting kidney transplant nationally, and about 15,000 kidney transplants occurring each year in the U.S., the need for living kidney donation is clear.
Transplant experts – nurses, coordinators, nephrologists and surgeons – provided education and dispelled myths about living donation. They shared important facts, including:
- A kidney donated from a living person will last up to 15 years, compared with 7-10 years for a kidney from a deceased person.
- A living donation helps more than one person receive a kidney, as the recipient of the living organ is removed from the waiting list, allowing others to move up.
- A kidney donor's blood type does not necessarily have to match the recipient's.
- A living donor generally spends just 2 nights in the hospital following surgery and is fully recovered in 4-6 weeks. Donors don't have to change their diets for the long term and can return to physical activity and sports.
Patient panels provided a workshop highlight, with both donors and recipients offering their stories. They discussed their use of social media and other communications tools to share recipients' needs and inspire donors' decisions. Many emphasized the simple fact that people can't help if they don't know what's needed.
Though all admitted that seeking a kidney feels like a big ask, the returns for donors can be great. One panelist said, "People want to do good. Let them do good." Another shared, "I got to help someone in a way that has given me so much more than I could ever imagine."
If you’re interested in becoming a living kidney donor, call 913-588-3961 for an evaluation.