I have been asked to post my answers to some very frequently asked questions. This will help everyone understand better as to why I decided to do this.
1. Are you getting money for donating.
No. I am not receiving any money or gifts for this. It’s against the law. I’m simply doing this to help.
2. How much money is it costing YOU?
All of the flight, hotel, and rental car expenses are being paid by the recipient. This is something that not all recipients can afford to do. Some donors opt to pay that themselves, but I’m not in the position to do so. As far as work goes, I don’t anticipate missing much work b/c I’m taking my laptop with me. I’ll only be in the hospital 1 or 2 days. After that, I’ll be working from my hotel room.
3. How much time do you think this will cost you?
Wow. This is a hard question. I’ve never sat down and figured it all out. I would guess that by the time I’m done with the surgery and follow-up appointments, it will have taken me about 24 days worth of emailing back and forth, taking blood tests, traveling, surgery, and follow-up appointments. As far time off from work, it won’t be much. I’m lucky enough to have a job where I work from home on a computer. I can easily do most of my job from Phoenix. For someone that’s considering doing this and they don’t have the luxury of working from home, it could be a problem. They have to make sure that their boss is supportive of their decision and potential time off from work. I would say that they would miss an average of about 4 weeks total for testing and recovery; possibly more. If you count time I've spend researching kidney donation, it's more like 40 days.
4. What do your boys think about it? Do they have different feelings about it due to their ages?
When I first approached my boys about this, they said, “What is that?” They didn’t even know what a kidney was. I showed a picture of it to them on the computer. I explained how I had two good ones and this man had no good ones and that I was just going to share one of my extra ones. My 8 year old son said, “That’s nice of you mommy.” My 5 year old said, “Yuck!” So, there is definitely a difference in intellectual understanding between the two of them. They have both been through surgeries with me before; even more major than this one. They know that mommy is pretty tough. They actually seem to be proud of me.
5. Have you thought about what would happen should one of your four boys need a kidney one day? What made you decide to donate even though they might need a kidney one day?
Yes, I have thought of that. It’s a question that I’ve been asked my many people. We don’t have kidney disease or diabetes in our family, so the likelihood of either of them having kidney disease is slim. They could have some kind of traumatic injury that could cause it. I’m the kind of person that believes that God must have given us two kidneys so that we could help others that don’t have a good one. I can’t withhold helping a sick person now just b/c one of my children MIGHT need one later. We have a large family, and I feel certain that we would have no trouble finding another kidney for my child. Plus, with the anti-rejections drugs that are available today, you don’t even have to be a perfect match.
6. You are a mom of four boys. There's always 'danger' in surgery. What pushed you toward this decision to donate despite that?
I am married. My husband is in the Air Force and is currently stations in Kuwait until the end of September. Since my two step-sons live with their own mother, that’s not a concern. They will be taken care of. My boys will naturally go live with their father if something should happen to me during surgery. I know that they will be well taken care of and loved as much as I love them. It will be hard on them, but I hope that they would be proud of me anyway. If it’s God’s will for me to die donating a kidney, I’m ok with that. I have complete confidence in the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. It’s one of the best transplant hospitals in the country. They have not lost even one donor yet. That’s good enough odds for me.
7. What are the ethical issues, if any, you've dealt with and how did you resolve them?
The ethical issues I’ve dealt with are that I’m donating to a “stranger”. I put stranger in quotations because I feel like I’ve known this family forever. I originally met them on LivingDonorsOnline.org. So, ethicists wonder why someone would go out of their way to donate an organ to someone they don’t know. What benefit would I get from it? With a family member or friend, you get the benefit of having them around longer. With a stranger, you don’t get that. For me, the simple thought of being able to help someone is my benefit. My feet haven’t touched the ground ever since I found out we were a match. All I want out of this is simply to help another human being. One other ethical question I’ve been asked is “Do you think you’re playing God by choosing your donor directly?”. My answer is no. I don’t. I feel like I used the avenue that was available to me. It was either that or not at all, because I didn’t know of another way at the time. I knew there was a National Registry, but it costs about $75-80 to be tested, and the donor has to pay. I just couldn’t afford it. I feel like God would be proud that I’m helping, plain and simple.