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An Act of Kindness Leads to a Living Kidney Transplant

sheldon tepler

Photo: Instagram, lindseymills_tv

November is a month to celebrate giving and selfless acts of kindness. This year we have a special topic and story to share about kidney disease. The effects of kidney disease impact people’s lives in unimaginable ways, and recently, one of our own became a living donor to a neighbor in need.  Watch the heartening story on News Center Maine

What It Means to Live With Kidney Disease

People suffering from stage five chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease require treatment to survive. Dialysis is a primary treatment during end-stage kidney failure; the procedure takes over the function of filtering the blood (to remove fluid and waste products from your system).

Beyond the disease itself, dialysis adversely limits one’s quality of life and chance of survival. Patients who receive in-center dialysis (hemodialysis) are treated three times a week. Each visit takes three to five hours per session. Some patients’ disease is so advanced that they require peritoneal dialysis, which they perform every night at home. Each type of dialysis presents unique limitations to lifestyle. It is easy to understand why a transplant is considered the treatment of choice for those afflicted with severe chronic kidney disease. In most instances, a transplant is far better than people undergoing dialysis as it increases both their quality of life and life expectancy. 

The Big Give

As the name suggests, a living donation is when a living person donates a kidney for transplantation. Living donors can be a relation—a parent, child, sister, or brother—any family member—or it could be a spouse, friend, neighbor, or a friend of a friend. A living donation could also be anonymous.

Living donations are favored over deceased donors because, in general, a kidney from a living donor functions better, for more extended periods, with fewer side effects. However, the waiting list for kidneys from deceased donors is a reasonably long one. In the US, kidney failure affects nearly 750,000 people per year, while the list for the candidates waiting for a new kidney is more than 90,000 people. Those on the list must continue with dialysis until a kidney is available.

The Maine Transplant Program 

The Maine Transplant Program at Maine Medical Center provides the best possible care for people afflicted with irreversible kidney failure and living donors. Active since 1971, it is, in fact, Maine’s only transplant program, having performed over 1,500 transplants. Conveniently located in Portland, it allows Maine residents to receive care closer to home. At the Center, a dedicated, multidisciplinary team provides personalized care for patients and their donors to ensure the best possible outcome.

A Conversation Can Save a Life

The Maine Transplant Program recognizes that the best course of treatment for a person with kidney failure is to receive a transplant and equally so the shortage of organs available for donation. To say donating a kidney is an immeasurable act of kindness is an understatement. Yes, both the donor and the recipient can live with just one healthy kidney. But those in a position to donate one of their kidneys can enhance and even save someone’s life. Doing so is a lifesaving decision. 

One of the primary reasons for the Maine Transplant Program’s continued success is through living donors. If you are considering such an endeavor, the Maine Transplant Program is there to assist you. Visit their website for more information.