Let’s see if I can read your mind. Some of you are probably sitting around your house, planning your upcoming week. Perhaps you are wondering what you’re going to buy at the grocery, or which movie to go see this weekend. Maybe you’re excited about the Fall season starting and want to start carving pumpkins or stocking up on Halloween candy WAY too early (I say go for it). ORRRR… maybe you’re saying to yourself.. “I want to give Terry Angel one of my kidneys – how do I check to see if we match?”
See, I KNEW I could read your mind! haha. Ok I’m kidding. That being said, I’ll be serious about this now, as it’s a very serious subject.
I’ve had several people reach out to me in the last few months, asking how they can check to see if they could be a kidney donor match. I really didn’t have an answer, up until now. It took awhile to go through all the insurance approvals, getting all my tests done to make sure I’m a transplant candidate, and other necessary things to get the ball rolling.
Well now, I have some answers. If you’re interested in checking, here’s what you can do:
- (strongly encouraged) Read about the IU Health Transplant program, and fill out the Living Donor Intake Form. For name of recipient, put “Chester T. Angel”. (Chester is my legal first name, some of you may not know this).
- (optional) Call the transplant coordinators at 800-382-4602, or if local, 317-944-4370 (8am-4pm Eastern time M-F) if you have specific questions or concerns, or if you just prefer to initiate things via phone.
- (optional) Attend my kidney transplant evaluation/education day on Wednesday, October 21. I’ve been told any potential donor may attend. This is a good way to talk to counselors and surgeons in person to ask any questions you may have. You can have your cross-matching blood sample drawn this day as well. This is also the day I get my cross-matching test done. How exciting!
Location info: IU Health University Hospital, 550 University Blvd, Indianapolis IN 46202. Valet Parking at front door is $5 for all day. Here’s the day itinerary:
- my blood type is A- (A negative). Which means I can receive an organ from anybody with any “A” blood type or “O” blood type. If you’re a “B” or an “AB”, we aren’t compatible.
- There are other things besides blood type that need to make us compatible. It’s some very complicated immune system antigen mumbo jumbo that only a doctor could explain to us – some people are good matches and some people aren’t. I attempted to blog about it HERE but you can probably find more info online yourself.
- There are some things that would probably disqualify you as a donor. Things such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, drug abuse. However if you’re on the fence on some of these things but want to donate, it may still be worth filling the form out.
- Cost: My insurance covers 100% of everything for you. Your surgery, your hospital time, your recovery, your medication, your followups, everything. The only thing it does NOT cover is your lost time from work, which might be a week or two.
- Paired Donation: Even if we don’t match, and you still want to donate a kidney to help me out, there are programs where I team up with another person who needs a kidney. Perhaps you match them, and their friend matches me. This is a national database that has helped a LOT of people match this way. While I’m not receiving YOUR kidney -someone else is, and I’m still getting a transplant because of you. Plus you are helping TWO people instead of one:
If you can’t attend the evaluation/education day – don’t fret. I know it’s a weekday, and most of us either have jobs or geography issues. The easiest thing you can do is fill out the online form or call the number above. You will hear back from a transplant coordinator for further information and instruction.
First and foremost though I want everyone reading this to understand that I am NOT asking anybody to check. Nobody. Donating one of your organs is a very personal thing. It’s a very big thing. It’s Mount Everest huge. It’s certainly not as easy a decision as say, letting someone borrow your car or loaning someone a chunk of money you know you’ll probably never see again. This is a piece of your own body leaving you, forever. Some people have religious beliefs, fear they may need both your kidneys later in life, have a big fear of surgery and potential complications, can’t donate because of reasons they don’t want to disclose, or flat out don’t want to. Whatever the reason – it’s 100% A-OK in my book. No harm, no foul, no judgement, no nothing. I do thank you sincerely for all the well wishes and other ways you can support as well, mainly just being the awesome friend that you always have been.
For those of you that DO want to check. Or those of you who are on the fence but want to research and ask questions before making a decision – there’s no way I can describe in words how grateful and thankful. Even if we don’t match – or in the end decide you can’t do it – just the stepping up to the plate part is the biggest gesture anyone has ever shown me, you’re in a very special club in my book, and I am indebted to you immensely.
I’m very excited about the future – there’s a lot to do but in the meantime, with my treatment programs I’m feeling great and functioning normally which is huge in my transplant quest.