This post is sponsored by Med-IQ in collaboration with Duke Health to raise awareness about living kidney donation and kidney transplantation. All opinions are my own.
Just a few years ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). When I was diagnosed I knew absolutely nothing about kidney disease. I honestly wasn’t even 100% sure how important your kidneys were in helping your body to function properly. After I was diagnosed, I heavily began researching my condition. I did my best to educate myself on how I could keep my kidneys healthy and prolong having to get a kidney transplant. Not long after being diagnosed with PKD, I found myself expecting my third child with a high risk pregnancy that put me at greater risk for kidney failure.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, the kidney failure rate among Black and African American individuals is more than 3 times higher than among White individuals. Although Black or African American individuals represent 13.2% of the US population, 35% of all US patients with end-stage renal disease (dialysis or transplantation) are Black or African American.
After giving birth to Trevor at 32 weeks, losing large amounts of blood and suffering an acute kidney injury I found myself with stage 4 PKD. I had no idea when I was diagnosed that my disease would progress so quickly but it did and I was left to make the decision on when I wanted to pursue getting a kidney transplant. With a consultation from my doctors and talking to my family, we decided that the best thing to do would be to try to get a living kidney donor so we could try and plan as best as we could for my transplant. With 2 young kids, being able to plan as much as possible was important to us.
Let Me Tell Why Living Kidney Donation is Important
In the Duke Health kidney transplant department, more than 60% of patients are Black or African American, but only 5% of living donors at Duke are Black or African American. In 2020, African American living donors represented 7.3% of the total living donor population, which is low considering that African American individuals constitute approximately 30% of the total waiting list nationwide. Living kidney donation is important for so many reasons.
Did you know that kidneys from living kidney donors last longer? Kidneys from living donors last longer and are healthier. If a transplant patient receives a kidney from a living donor, it can last, on average, 16 years, versus just 10 years from a deceased donor. Approximately 30% of deceased donor transplants occur in African American individuals whereas approximately 10% of living donor transplants occur in this patient population (more living donors are needed in the African American community to help).
The wait time for a living kidney donor is shorter. The wonderful thing about a living kidney donor is the wait is much shorter. Typically once your living kidney donor is approved, you can coordinate your transplant with your doctors whenever you are ready which makes you able to plan more. The average waiting time for a kidney can be 3 to 5 years or longer.
One of the most common misconceptions that deter people from considering being a living kidney donor is age. Anyone between 18 and 70 years old can become a living donor. Donors do not need to be related to the recipient. About 50% of donors are not biologically related to the recipient. Today, there are paired exchanges, which means if a donor is identified but isn’t a suitable match for the intended recipient, a matching recipient will be identified, and then a kidney will be located for the original intended recipient. In the US, 60% of living donor cases occur in patients who are not biologically related. Anyone can donate.
Why I decided to work with Med-IQ and Duke Health
Raising awareness about living kidney donation is critical, especially as someone who is currently searching for a living donor. It’s important to me to not only educate the people in my community but others as well. Becoming a living kidney donor can help save more lives than you know. African American patients are more likely to have kidney disease that progresses more quickly to renal failure, and spend an average of 2.5 months longer waiting for a transplant.
If you are considering living kidney donation, you will be assigned your own dedicated medical team, separate from the intended recipient’s team, to prioritize your safety and decisions specific to the potential donor. Potential donors undergo extensive health screenings and evaluations, covered by the recipient’s insurance, to determine their eligibility as a living donor. The screening process at Duke includes prediction modeling to assess lifetime risk to a potential donor living with one kidney.
To learn more about living kidney donation, talk to your trusted healthcare providers or visit Duke Health here.
Med-IQ and Duke Health are conducting an anonymous survey (takes less than 10 minutes to complete) and would appreciate your input. Your responses will provide Med-IQ and Duke Health with important information about your experience or your loved one’s experience with kidney disease and being a kidney transplant recipient or living donor, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 3 $75 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used to randomly draw the winners and notify you of your prize if you win. Click here to fill out the survey.