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MedicalMy name is Travis. I am a Paramedic in Pennsylvania and 9 years ago today I donated my left kidney. In order to spread awareness and help reduce some fears of organ donation, AMA!

Jul 29th 2017 by KidneyMedic • 17 Questions • 165 Points

9 years ago today, when I was a college student, I donated my left kidney to my oldest sister. I am also currently a Paramedic. Feel free to ask me anything! I will be checking in and out all day, answering questions until midnight tonight. I'll try to answer all of them or as many as I can.

If the mods want proof of my kidney donation, I can send them a link to a story my college paper did about it. I don't want to post it here since it mentions my sister' s name and I didnt ask if she wants to have her name out there.

Proof of being a paramedic: https://ibb.co/g1Aws5

Just a note, I created this account just for this AMA. I like having privacy online for various reasons.

Edit: Thanks to everyone who asked questions or dropped by. I apologize for any short answers, but I did 99% of this in an ambulance either while responding to a call (my partner was driving) or while walking out of the hospital after transferring care. I've had a busy day, so I'm going to go sleep. However, I hope I at least answered some questions and even if you don't want to be a living donor, at least consider being a deceased organ donor. For some fun statistics you can go here: https://www.donatelife.net/statistics/ There is a shortage of organ donors and this problem is a growing problem as more people suffer organ failure. Even as a paramedic, I see a lot of people with organ failure from sickness, disease, or trauma.

I hope everyone has a great night and God bless!

Q:

How is your life different now, compared to when you still have both kidneys? Any noticeable health problems?

A:

No differences at all except there are some medications I can't take because they're hard on kidneys. I'm also more mindful of that and don't use anti-persperant.


Q:

Why don't you use anti-persperant?

A:

There's an ingredient in Anti-persperant (or most of them) based on Aluminum and I was told that can be a little hard on your kidneys as well. I never researched it when I got older, but I know my sister has told me she avoids them and was told by her doctor to. I'm sure it's a minor risk, but I just slather on deodorant.


Q:

Any popular medications? I was born with one kidney so I am curious to see if I have been taking something I shouldn't be.

A:

Aleve, ibuprofen, and aspirin are the three major ones. There are others, but those are the NSAIDs mostly used.


Q:

Well crap.

A:

I would imagine small doses might not be too bad. They did tell me if I ever needed to use them, my doctor would have to/should monitor kidney function with tests while using them. I rarely take any medicine though, so it's never been an issue. As always, it's best to talk to your doc about it if you have any questions.


Q:

lol I took that from the movie "The Replacements" "chicks dig scars". Anywho, Just outside of Allentown:) And congrats on your donation! Truly awesome! A co-worker gave a Kidney to his brother, a very brave thing to do!

A:

Thanks! And I've never been to Allentown, but always wanted to. A lot of famous people seem to be from there, haha.


A:

I am originally from Altoona, though I don't live there anymore.


Q:

Maybe if your sister dies you can have your own back someday?

A:

I doubt it would still work, but im not sure.


Q:

Thanks for doing an AMA How do you back up your certs?

A:

Back up my certs? Like recertify?


Q:

Like do you keep copies somewhere in case you lose your original

A:

Oh haha. Everything is all pretty much stored at our local ems council. If I ever lost my medic cert card, I could get a new one from them. My PALS/ACLS are with the American Heart Association, so I can get copies through them. Our ems company keeps copies for their records so if the state ever wants to see them they have them.


Q:

How's your sister doing? Will she been needing another transplant eventually? I'm 25 and just got diagnosed with a rare kidney disease due to being born with 1 kidney and I'll be needing a transplant too.

A:

Sorry for the late reply, Reddit was glitching on my phone at times during the day. She's doing great. She gets yearly tests done to ensure her Kidney is doing well. The doctor's said the kidney I gave should have no problem lasting 30 or 40 years (she was around 40 when I donated). They're unsure of why her first transplant failed. It's possible because it missed it's plane (the longer an organ is out of the body, it can lose some function). Also living donor organs are better than cadavers because they're still actively functioning fully and have blood and such inside them. However, I've had patients with cadaver donations that are doing wonderful.

I wish you the best of luck though! Stay in there, stay positive! Have a great support system and I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


Q:

Hello! Since I've read something on Reddit about donating Bone Marrow, I've wanted to get set up to donate. I read that it's a big procedure and it takes you out of life for a few weeks/months. I don't know if I remember all this information correctly. Is this something I can sign up for now, or should I wait until I finish school and start my career? Times are tough trying to get through all of this alone, so I couldn't afford to be out for more than a few days. Thanks in advance!

A:

I would ask your doctor/the place that does it. I'm not too familiar with bone marrow transplants. I can say it's probably just a risk of breaking more than healing and such since they go into the bone for it.


Q:

I can understand donating to save a close relative or friend... but does this not significantly reduce your own lifespan and have a large number of potential complications?

A:

Lifespan wise, I'll live as long as I would with two kidneys. Some people only have one and never know until later in life or even death during a deceased donation. Complications are the same as any surgery, which have passed me by now. I'll live a healthy normal life and I'm not at risk for anything else really.


Q:

ask you anything? sure.

how precisely do i "donate" my kidney but also get paid for it. Have a need for money, dont have a need for two kidneys, have no desire to spend my time in hospitals doing any kind of screening tests without getting paid for it.

I mean if you want me to give up an organ its only fair to expect compensation, ESPECIALLY as there are plenty of downsides to losing one kidney

A:

There are really no downsides to losing one kidney. And in the US, selling an organ for money is illegal. However, I imagine there are many third world countries where theyll kidnap you and do it, but you probably wouldn't survive since they'll take all your organs.


Q:

There are really no downsides to losing one kidney.

you mean like the ones you totally didnt mention in your own damn replies about not being able to take as many nsaids? yeah no downsides at all. Nice job lying out of your ass.

And in the US, selling an organ for money is illegal.

A) when has that stopped anyone

B) the entire world is NOT the US. youre a tiny portion of the world most people dont even care about

C) I guess i'll watch people dying because of lack of organs from the comfort of my seat then :)

A:

NSAIDS aren't essential to live. There are plenty of medications that you can take that have the same effect.

I said in the US, because that's where I live. I never suggested that it was the whole world.

There's a lack of organs because of people like you who can't see what's in it for them so they won't do it or because of lies and fears that are unfounded and people won't donate.


Q:

NSAIDS aren't essential to live. There are plenty of medications that you can take that have the same effect.

Nevertheless it is a downside. one you are very conveniently neglecting to mention to people. theres lots of things that arent "essential". doesnt mean they arent important.

There's a lack of organs because of people like you who can't see what's in it for them so they won't do it or because of lies and fears that are unfounded and people won't donate.

Well there is nothing in it for me. i get no benefit and all of the downsides in such a transaction. theres nothing in it for supermajority of the people who can donate. And they shouldnt donate either, not until they are allowed to do so on their own terms, even if that includes selling those organs.

A:

Downsides would be a negative that would effect your quality of life. Most NSAIDs are used for muscle soreness type things and you could easily take Tylenol and be fine with the same effect.

And this is why the world is in the shape it's in, because of people like you who don't want to help others unless they get something. Yet, when you need help, you probably cry the loudest for people who do help. Also, you talk about doing it on their own terms, but if you start paying people, it really won't be on their own terms since you'll have poor people donating to get by. That's the point, it should be a freely given, non-coerced or forced gift.


Q:

And this is why the world is in the shape it's in, because of people like you who don't want to help others unless they get something.

you cant ask for me to compromise my own body for literally no benefit

Yet, when you need help, you probably cry the loudest for people who do help.

and you have facts to back this up?

Also, you talk about doing it on their own terms, but if you start paying people, it really won't be on their own terms since you'll have poor people donating to get by.

that is on their terms. they consented to it. no one forced them into it, they couldve continued living literally like they are right now.

A:

Except you're not compromising your own body.

Not really. Would they do it if they aren't poor? If they're doing it to get by and survive, they're being forced to do something they normally wouldn't.


Q:

Thanks again for doing this as you're the first person I've spoken to that's donated. How long did you spend in the hospital after surgery? How long after that before you were able to get back to work? Any insight/advice for the post surgery period is appreciated.

A:

I spent a week inside the hospital. Usually, it's only about 3 days, but being from another city I didn't have anyone to get me until Saturday so I was able to stay a little longer.

I was a college student at the time and I had left my previous job before the surgery. I started working in October as a stock clerk for a grocery store. It was about 8 weeks until I could lift over 5 lbs to avoid herniating.

My first bit of advice is to have a good support group. Walk as soon as the doctor says you can. It helps your body begin to realign your organs inside and get things moving again. Do your breathing exercises, as that will help you regain some strength and help prevent pneumonia.

And remember that you're doing a great thing. Despite some misinformed naysayers, the pros outweigh the cons. There are some risks, but they're rare. Listen to your doctor and there is a whole group out there of living donors and recipients that are great support.