Spare Kidney: Good Working Order

Spare Kidney:  GWO

Even though I had been a renal nurse for many years it had never occurred to me that I could be a live kidney donor in the paired/pool scheme.  My only experience of live donation had been through patients whose family or friends had donated.

Giving a gift

While working as a Renal Therapy specialist I attended a dialysis unit to deliver training for the nursing staff. I enquired after a patient and the nursing staff explained that the patient (who was a young adult)  had been transplanted. The kidney had come from an altruistic donor and was a perfect match. This was a light bulb moment for me.

I started to think about donating a kidney. I talked to my own children and decided that I wanted to donate. I contacted the transplant team and over a period of about 6 months underwent the testing required to donate. Unfortunately I was unable to donate as the testing showed that I have a common condition that can occasionally lead to kidney stones. I was somewhat devastated to learn that I could not donate. I was reassured that my kidneys are in great working order and the transplant team would  happily harvest them should the occasion arise.


Reflecting on this experience there are a few themes/lessons I have taken away.

  • I wonder how I could be working in haemodialysis and not have known about the paired / pool donor scheme. If I was not aware then how much awareness is there amongst the general public?
  • I also had a sense of loss when I was unable to donate and my thoughts turned to how this sense of loss must be a million times  harder for people  who want to donate to a friend or family member.
  • During the time I was having tests I talked to people including work colleagues (renal nurses) and  I was surprised at the most immediate reaction from them along the lines of “Why would you do that!!

So as I cannot donate I take every opportunity to raise awareness of live kidney donation and the paired / pool scheme. I do though share with anyone considering live donation that there may be a chance that they will be unable to donate and that this can be difficult to accept.

My answer to anyone that says “Why would you do that?” is “Why would you NOT do that?”

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