Transplant Ambassadors can provide details about their own transplant experience. Some suggested responses to common questions are below.
AMBASSADORS SHOULD NEVER GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE.

What are the advantages of kidney transplantation for a kidney patient?

POSSIBLE AVOIDANCE OF DIALYSIS
Finding a living donor at an early stage of your kidney disease may allow you to avoid dialysis completely. Without a living donor, you must be on dialysis before you are placed on the transplant wait list. Waiting for a kidney transplant from a deceased donor may take many years.

BETTER DONOR ORGAN SURVIVAL RATES

THE KIDNEY OFTEN LASTS LONGER
A transplanted kidney from a living donor often lasts longer. This is partly due to more time being available to do the necessary tests to get a better tissue match between donor and recipient. A better tissue match means higher compatibility and less risk of organ rejection.

The kidney is usually healthier. The kidney from a living donor is usually healthier than an organ from a deceased donor and may last longer: 15 to 20 years on average, compared to 10 to 15 years for a deceased kidney donation. This is largely because extensive testing is done on the donor to ensure the donor has excellent kidney function.

The kidney usually works right away. A kidney from a living donor usually works right away in the recipient. A kidney from a deceased donor may take days or weeks before it starts to work normally. In the meantime, the recipient may need dialysis treatments.

When should a kidney patient start thinking about transplant?

EDUCATE YOURSELF
NOW. It is never to early to think about transplantation. The more you know the better you can navigate the process when or if you need a transplant. I can get you some reliable information about how it all works.

TALK TO YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS
It also helps to talk to your family about the fact you might need a kidney so everyone has time to think about how they can help you, or look into their compatibility, before the situation becomes urgent.

I am not sure I am eligible for a transplant?

CANADIAN GUIDELINES
All patients with End Stage Kidney Disease are to be considered for a kidney transplant. However not everyone is eligible. The Canadian Transplant Society published eligibility guidelines in The Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2005.
http://www.cmaj.ca/content/173/10/S1.full

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA CAN CHANGE OVER TIME & LOCATION
For example, many programs accept older patients, and patients with other underlying conditions. This has changed over time. It is best to check in with your nephrologist to see if you are eligible. A detailed evaluation is required in order to determine whether there are contraindications to transplantation.

How can I ask someone to do something as big as giving up a kidney?

Donors live healthy, normal lives with one kidney.

Most patients find that just sharing what you are going through with people you are comfortable with is a great way to start a dialogue. People who understand your situation will often ask how they can help.

EXPLORE TRANSPLANT ONTARIO
https://exploretransplant.org/

The Big Ask, The Big Give
https://www.kidney.org/transplantation/livingdonors

What do I need to do to figure out if I can be a living donor?

KNOW YOUR BLOOD TYPE
The initial steps in determining if you are able to donate involves examination of your health history and determining your blood type. It is important that the donor has a blood type that is compatible (well-matched) with the recipient. You can find out what your blood type is by having a blood sample taken by your family doctor or your transplant coordinator. As well, many people who donate blood will have a card from the Canadian Blood Services stating their blood type.

CONTACT LIVING DONOR COORDINATOR
The first step to determine your suitability is to complete a health history form. This information will be reviewed by the kidney donor team and your suitability will be determined. The kidney donor coordinator will contact you once the health history has been reviewed to discuss the next step.

Ontario’s Living Donor Program Contacts:
https://blood.ca/en/organs-tissues/becoming-live-kidney-donor

How risky is the process of being a living donor?

HIGH SUCCESS RATE
The success rate for a kidney transplant from a living donor is 90–95% after one year and the transplanted kidney lasts 15 to 20 years on average. For transplants from a deceased donor, the success rate is also high: 85–90% of these kidneys are working well after one year and will last on average from 10 to 15 years.

RISK SAME AS ANY MAJOR SURGERY
Kidney donation is a major operation; though living donors are in good health, there are risks related to having surgery. This surgery is similar to gallbladder removal. The donor team will talk to you about the risks involved.

FOLLOW UP
Many kidney donors are now being followed up annually by a Nephrologist.

Find out if your centre provides this important services for donors.

What are the benefits for me if I donate my kidney?

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH SCREENING
Any health issues that you did not know about already may be found during your work-up. If this is the case, this may mean that you will be able to get any help that you may need for these conditions earlier than you otherwise would have.

OPPORTUNITY TO SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE
You may benefit from seeing the restored health of your recipient. Most living donors say that they would make the same choice again. Studies have shown that donating a kidney makes donors feel good about themselves and creates stronger ties between family and friends.

TALK TO SOMEONE WHO HAS DONE IT
If you want to speak with someone whose been through it, I can arrange for you or a family member to speak with one of our living donor Transplant Ambassadors.

What are the current financial impacts and support for living donors?

TIME OFF WORK
How much time will I need to take off work?
Full recovery may take up to twelve weeks. You may be able to return to work within three to six weeks depending on the type of work you do. Before the surgery, you may also need some time off work for medical tests and appointments, counselling sessions and other aspects of the pre-donation evaluation process.

TRILLIUM GIFT OF LIFE REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM
The Program for Reimbursing Expenses of Living Organ Donors (PRELOD) provides reimbursement of up to $5,500 for qualified expenses such as travel, parking, transit, meals, accommodation, and a loss of income subsidy. For program details please contact the PRELOD Administrator at prelod@giftoflife.on.ca, or at 1-888-9-PRELOD / 416-619-2342.

EMPLOYER SICK LEAVE COVERAGE
Donors who work can often qualify for sick leave coverage from your employer’s company health plan.

What if I am not the same blood type?

You can consider the Living Donor Paired Exchange Registry
The LDPE Registry works in partnership with Canadian Blood Services. This program permits a donor of an incompatible pair to donate to another recipient in Canada, to whom they are compatible, while their original recipient receives a kidney from a different living donor in the program that is compatible with them. In this program, a donor will only donate a kidney if their original intended recipient receives a kidney from within the program at the same time.

View brochure.

What if my child needs a kidney in the future?

YOU HAVE TO RETAIN EXCELLENT HEALTH AS YOU AGE TO BE ABLE TO DONATE A KIDNEY TO YOUR CHILD
If your child needs a kidney transplant later in life, you may not be healthy enough to donate at that time. You may very likely need to depend on someone else who is not your child’s parent to donate to them.

The chances of your child needing a transplant, and you being able to donate at that time, are quite low, especially if there is no history of kidney problems in the family.

Going through the living donor process will help you be more knowledgeable if your child or another family member needs a kidney donation in the future. Beyond that, the comprehensive testing you would go through as a donor would uncover any potential genetic links or conditions.