Time: A Critical Factor
On average, donor testing at takes approximately 6 months; 3 at the very least. (The donor is not being continuously tested during this entire time; much of the time is taken up by behind-the-scenes activities on the part of the Medical Center. See Donor Testing.) Except for preliminary compatibility tests (blood draw, urine collection, and blood-pressure readings), insurance-company policies prevent transplant centers from fully evaluating more than one potential donor at a time. It is not uncommon for a recipient to find a dozen or more potential donors, only to learn that none is a suitable donor. Since multiple potential donors may have to be evaluated before a suitable match is found, 3-6 months per donor quickly adds up to a longer time period than many patients' kidneys are likely to last. So time is a critical factor.
However, a positive outcome is no less important for a donor than for the recipient, and the decision to donate a kidney should not be considered lightly. Having mixed feelings about kidney donation is not uncommon. If you are contemplating being a donor, you should take all the time you need to think it over before making up your mind. The National Kidney Foundation has an excellent web site that includes a list of important things to consider in making a decision. (Click on no. 4, "Making the Decision.")
Longtime Promise: Ten years ago, Vicki Wieland (l), pledged to give a kidney to her sister, Lisa Yario (r). "We've talked about this happening for so long that it still doesn't feel like it happened. It doesn't register that I've had a new organ put into my body," Yario said. Click here to read the story.