I heard from my transplant coordinator today, my University of Utah Transplant coordinator Heidi, and I've been offered a kidney through the National Kidney Registry Paired Donor Exchange! Actually, I knew about this a few weeks ago but held off making a formal announcement until the compatibility testing came back from all the centers.
My sister Liz and I are part of a kidney chain consisting of 4 pairs at 4 different transplant centers throughout the country. Each center has to run compatibility testing for each potential pair, and each pair has come back as a compatible match in order for the chain to be complete. All four of the centers ran the testing, and all 4 pairs came back compatible so we're having a transplant!
The next step in the kidney chain process is to schedule the surgeries. Because the transplant centers are in 4 different states, it will take between 9 and 10 hours to get the kidney from the donor to the recipient. The centers will work with the donors' schedules and the surgeons' schedules (the recipients have no say, but that's alright. We don't have much to do except dialysis anyway.) to get the transplants all scheduled, but it will be sometime in April. Watch this space for updates on the transplant!
This transplant has been a long time coming. If you read this blog or know me, it's been over 2 years since my last kidney rejected and I've been on dialysis. There is finally some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Apparently, this kidney chain is part of some miracle, because I had an antigen in my blood that was making it very hard to find anyone that would match with me. Sometime between when I had my H&I test drawn in December and when I had it drawn in January, something changed and that difficult antigen disappeared, thereby making me compatible with this mystery donor in another state and making it possible to make this small kidney chain.
I've often wondered why it's been taking so long to get things transferred to the IMC program- I've been working on it since last June. Now I understand why, if I had been in the IMC program, this may not have been possible as their standing in the NKR is on hold presently. As much trouble as I've had with the U.'s transplant program, I am grateful that they have worked to participate in this chain and eventually get me a kidney. I found out about the possibility of this on a Saturday, and the next day I sat in church listening to my neighbor play a beautiful rendition of "Be Still My Soul" and I knew at that moment that everything would work out.
To learn more about kidney chains and the National Kidney Registry, visit this link to a really great New York Times article.