Hello, my name is Andrew Astarita. Some of you may know that I have Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD. Polycystic Kidney Disease affects the kidneys and other organs. It is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. In my case, my mother and several relatives on my mother's side of the family have had this disease. Sadly, some family members, including my Mom, passed away from complications of PKD. Today, I have a small, but very loving family, including a cousin who was fortunate enough to receive a donor kidney and is now living an active and healthy life.
I found out about 15 years ago that I too have PKD. While the disease had progressed over the years, my kidney function was was still okay until recently. My PKD has gotten worse and I will soon need dialysis and a transplant. A kidney transplant from a living donor will give me the best chance of long-term health and being able to enjoy an active life with my family and young daughter. Please read more below about the disease and living kidney donation.
Polycystic Kidney Disease...
Polycystic Kidney Disease is a disorder that affects the kidneys and other organs. Clusters of fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, develop in the kidneys and interfere with their ability to filter waste products from the blood. The growth of cysts causes the kidneys to become enlarged and leads to kidney failure. Over time, my kidney disease has gotten worse causing my kidneys not to work well enough to keep me healthy. This is what I am facing now, and my treatment options are limited to dialysis or a kidney transplant.
My Kidney Function and Treatment Options...
I am currently in stage 4, severe loss of kidney function. At stage 4, kidneys function between 29 and 15 percent of their normal rate. My current kidney function is 16%. The next and last stage is 5, kidney failure. At that point, I will need to go on dialysis. The type of dialysis treatment that I will be doing, will take place every night for eight to ten hours. The dialysis will help my kidneys do their job and keep me alive, but a transplant would offer me more freedom and the ability to live a longer, healthier, more normal life. A transplant would also give me more time to do the things I enjoy most, like spending time with my family and friends.
Finding A Kidney...
Finding a kidney for a transplant is not easy. Just ask the 100,000+ people on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney. Time is not on our side. Some wait for years; sadly many die while waiting. The average wait time is five years or more for a kidney from a deceased donor. However, there is another option: receiving a kidney from a living donor. Asking a friend to consider donating a kidney to me is difficult, but it greatly improves my chances of getting a transplant. A living kidney donation typically lasts longer and has better function.
Things To Know About Living Kidney Donation...
You might not know a lot about living donation - I know I didn’t before kidney disease affected my life. Understandably, some people are afraid about the surgery and what living with one kidney will mean for them. Here’s some basic information about kidney donation:
• You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life.
• Most donor surgery is done laparoscopy, meaning through tiny incisions.
• The recuperation period is usually fairly quick, generally two weeks.
• The cost of your evaluation and surgery will be covered by my insurance.
• You will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for your best interests.
You can also learn more about living donation on the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) website: www.kidney.org/livingdonation or by contacting the NKF’s free, confidential helpline at 855.NKF.CARES (855.653.2273) or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org If you want to talk to someone who’s already donated a kidney, NKF can also help.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story. If donating a kidney to me is something you would like to consider, I would be happy to tell you more about my story and explore the process of determining if you are a match for me. You can contact me via email at: email@example.com
I know living donation may not be right for everyone — but you can still help! Please consider being an organ donor after death and also, help me by sharing my story with everyone you know. At the very least, I want to bring awareness to kidney disease and living donation. I am hopeful my efforts will help me receive a kidney sooner and encourage others to consider helping the many people on the wait list.