INDEPENDENCE – Organ Donation Month is April. It is a time to become aware of organ transplant needs, to mark your driver’s license as a willing donor, or to even get tested to see if you may be eligible and possibly be a match. However, the search for an organ continues throughout the year.
A woman named Susan Dauer – with local ties to Independence – is in search of a new kidney.
Susan was raised and lives in Minnesota, but has strong ties to Independence. Her mother, Joann Cone now lives here, as does her aunt, Ruth Crawford. While growing up, Susan spent summers at the farm of her maternal grandparents, Francis and Ione Aitchison.
“Susan needs a new kidney due to polycystic kidney disease (PKD), which she has suffered from for eight years,” said Cone.
In the case of a kidney, it is the organ most commonly given by a living donor.
According to the National Kidney Foundation (www.kidney.org):
- A living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person. The living donor can be a family member such as a parent, child, brother, or sister (living related donation).
- A living donation can also come from someone who is emotionally related to the recipient, such as a good friend, spouse, or an in-law (living unrelated donation). Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant.
- In some cases, living donation may even be from a stranger, which is called anonymous or non-directed donation.
The family realizes Susan is not the only one looking for an organ donor. As of August 1, there were 109,508 on the National Organ Waiting List with 595 in Iowa alone. Of the Iowa organs needed, the list included:
- Heart – 28
- Lungs – 15
- Liver – 38
- Pancreas – 1
- Kidney/pancreas – 6
- Kidney – 507
The Kidney Foundation goes on to say that, to be considered as an organ donor:
- You must be in good physical and mental health
- As a general rule, you should be 18 years of age or older
- You must also have normal kidney function
- There are some medical conditions that could prevent you from being a living donor, including uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or acute infections
- Having a serious mental health condition that requires treatment may also prevent you from being a donor
“Please take the time to give this very serious thought,” said Cone.
Cone suggests that if you decide to be an organ donor (living or after death):
- Register at www.organdonor.gov
- Update your driver’s license
- Tell your family
- Tell your doctor
- Carry a card or wear an ID bracelet
“Do anything to let everyone know you are a donor,” she said. “You can save lives, and what a great thing that is to do.”
If you would like to be a living donor and donate specifically to Susan, know that her blood type is A positive and she is on the transplant waiting list at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“You could also be a part of a paired donation project,” said Cone.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a paired donation is another type of living kidney donation. If you are in need of a kidney and have a willing kidney donor whose organ is not compatible with you or does not match well for other reasons, rather than donating a kidney directly to you, your donor may give a kidney to someone who may be a better match. Then you receive a compatible kidney from that recipient’s donor.
In some cases, more than two pairs of donors and recipients may be linked with a non-directed living kidney donor to form a donation chain with several recipients benefitting from the non-directed donor’s gift.
If a compatible living donor isn’t available, your name will be placed on a waiting list for a deceased-donor kidney. Because there are fewer available kidneys than there are people waiting for a transplant, the waiting list continues to grow. The waiting time for a deceased-donor kidney is usually a few years.
For more information about being on the Mayo Clinic living donor list, visit www.mayoclinic.org or call 866-227-1569.
For further information on Susan’s specific disease, visit the PKD Foundation website at www.PKDcure.org.
“Thank you very much, and bless you,” said Cone.