Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Off topic but very important

I just had a really depressing encounter here at work and I wanted to say something to all of you dear readers who I care about even though I don't know you. As you may know, I work in transplant research, so part of my job is to present clinical studies to people who are getting or have already gotten a kidney, liver, or pancreas transplant. Sometimes when I tell people what I do, they joke, "Oh, so if I need a kidney, I can just come to you right?" Somehow people never made that joke when I worked on a leukemia project.

Here's the important part: Don't ever come see me at work. I hope the day never comes when I have to see a person that I know as a patient. All of my pre-transplant patients are extremely sick, and even post-transplant many of them die of their preexisting disease. I just enrolled an elderly woman onto a drug study, and she was very nervous but was beginning to believe that everything would be fine, until two seconds after I walked out of her room and one of the fellows told me that the cadaveric donor had a viral infection and none of the organs could be used. So this woman has to go home without her kidney, and it's entirely possible that she will die there before she comes back to see me and participate in my study. For most elderly patients, they are getting a kidney because they are running out of good veins for dialysis, and they will soon start to slowly die of their kidney disease. More people die on the waiting list than get an organ off it. So I guess my message is this: Please don't get sick. Please stay healthy. Please don't need a kidney from me. I don't ever want to see you at work.


Susan said...

I think the other good message here would be: Be an organ donor. When you don't need them anymore, someone else will.

GolbGuru said...

I agree with susan above, people should be more open to organ donations.

WH said...

Also, it's important to discuss the decision to donate with your family. Sometimes it's not enough to sign up to donate, your family must consent as well. (Read more here...)

mapgirl said...

Kira, Hang in there. You are participating in important work that will save other lives, even if it can't save hers.

What causes patients to get to this point of illness? Is it preventable with good healthcare and nutrition, etc? It seems to me that people want to be healthy, but often don't know how. Is there anything you think people can do before they get to this point?

(Organ donation is worthwhile! My friend gave hers to her hairdresser and has never regretted the gift.)

Kira said...

For kidney patients, most of them whose disease could have been prevented have diabetes or high blood pressure. Although a lot of people have some form of genetic or congenital disease, it's almost always exacerbated by obesity and diabetes type 2. You can absolutely keep your kidneys healthy by eating right and exercising to prevent diabetes. The most common forms of preventable liver disease are hepatitis C and alcoholic cirrhosis. Hepatitis C is often contracted through IV drug use, and gets MUCH worse if you drink. So basically if you keep a healthy lifestyle, you'll have a much lower chance of seeing me at work.

Wilks said...

I agree with mapgirl. Most people want to be health but just don’t know how. Being a bodybuilder and a nutritionist has shown me that there is a direct positive correlation with what you eat and how your body reacts over time. Consuming high amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates (sodas, juice, candy) makes your body less efficient at dealing with these types of food. The more “resistant” your body is to sugar the more sugar it will need to get the same level of “sugar rush”.
The best advice I ever got: Drink lots of water, or if you want flavor and caffeine, drink green tea, exercise regularly, live a low stress life.