Is there someone I can talk with before deciding?
Yes. There are many resources available--from professionals in the field, to previous donors and recipients, to those currently considering living donation. Transplant centers generally have staff members designated to provide information, resources, guidance, and support to potential living donors. For contact information, call the recipient's transplant center or contact the recipient him/herself to refer you to the appropriate persons.
Previous Donors, “Buddies,” & Mentors: Because donors face an unfamiliar experience, having direct contact with someone who has already donated can be beneficial. A number of organizations—some founded by donors and recipients themselves—match previous donors with those who are considering donation. (See Online Resources or type “living donation mentor(s)” into a search program. Usually, transplant centers can also assist with pairing previous and potential donors.
Support Groups: Support groups can be invaluable sources of information, practical and emotional support, encouragement, and advocacy. Previous living donors and others who are considering donation can relate to each other in a unique way through such groups. The sharing of common experiences confirms that positive, negative, and mixed feelings are normal and keeps prospective donors from feeling that they are alone. Support groups are not therapy, although they certainly can be therapeutic. Group participation is voluntary. No one is ever asked to speak or share feelings they do not wish to share. Groups are generally facilitated by either a group member, trained volunteer, or health-care professional. Support groups are usually free and regular attendance is optional. Group confidentiality creates an atmosphere of safety, helping attendees to feel comfortable to freely share whatever they wish. Transplant support groups are generally open to donors, recipients, and interested others. Transplant support groups are available in many areas. Transplant Living provides a listing of groups by state.
Online Discussion Groups: Numerous message boards and forums are available on the Internet. These sites enable visitors to communicate with each other about common interests. Many donors and recipients, both previous and prospective, frequent these sites, offering benefits similar to those of support groups. (See “Support Groups above.) The Internet addresses of some of these groups are listed in the Online Resources section of this site.
Online Informational Resources: A wealth of information is available on the Internet. Because a good deal of misinformation also circulates throughout the web, a list of reliable sites recommended by The Ohio State University's Medical Center is included on this site. (See Online Resources. ) The author of this site has added to the list a number of sites that she has found to be both reliable and extremely helpful in her research.
Good Neighbor, Perfect Match: Julie Reeve (l) and Shelly Rose (r) have been friends and neighbors for 10 years. Julie had diabetes and cancer; chemotherapy caused her kidneys to fail. Shelly, who offered to donate, turned out to be a perfect match. When given the news, Shelly says, "There were two feelings: One, really? That's great! The other one was (an apprehensive) really? But that only lasted for a minute. I don’t know if…this whole journey benefitted her or me more," Shelley said. Click here to read the story and view their video and photo gallery.