Now that I've summed up my hospital experiences donating my kidney, I thought I'd do a bit of a debrief on what was great (and what could be improved-next post...). Everybody likes a Top 5 right? ("They" being Alberta Health, Foothills Medical Centre and the Living Donor program).
- Doctorpalooza: The surgical transplant team overall were fantastic. While I didn't get to see/know them all to the same degree I did with Dr. S, Dr. W, Dr Y they were all warm, friendly and clearly dedicated to what they do. They had a collective sense of humour that was refreshing. Above all though, they are a true team of individuals who have a passion for what they do and their patients. I realize kidney donation and transplant isn't rocket science and the surgeries themselves are generally "unremarkable" (as Dr. Y described mine). So many people have complimented me on my donation but really to me-these doctors are the ones really making differences in peoples lives-they are the heroes. I do have to give a special mention to Dr. S as I dealt with him the most. He clearly cares a lot and always made sure I was engaged in what was going on. He took a genuine interest in me as a person and what I had to say which really made me feel comfortable.
- The Process: While we had a few hiccups when it came to communication and timing (which we can work on), I think the donor screening process itself was very thorough. I went into the surgery knowing I was more than medically (and mentally) fit to do this.I don't feel like I should have had more tests and I think 99% of the tests I had made sense even if we were a little backwards sometimes. Most tests could be scheduled easily around work and other appointments were always at more convenient times of the day as to not be too disruptive.
- Shining Stars: There were a few people along the way that don't fall under the Doctorpalooza umbrella that really made a difference. My "floater nurse". Tina, the Living Donor program co-ordinator. The three renal scan ladies who waved their arms along with me in an effort for the contrast dye to move out of my elbow. The nurse in the ER (I'll get to why I was there eventually in a later post) a week after surgery who told me I should have gotten an iPad2 instead of a medal for my kidney. Thank you. You love what you do and it shines through. You always treated me like a person and not a patient (there should never be a distinction but one seems to exist). You were always candid, funny and really professional. Keep doing what you do because you really are great at what you do.
- Openness to Change: Everybody I encountered who is involved with the Living Donor program were very clear about how new this is, especially when dealing with non-directed donors like myself. Nobody once pretended to have it all figured out. No "faking it till you make it". What a relief. That made most of the bumps I hit along the way easier to understand, accept and move on from. What was even better is that you continually invited me to help you make the process better for people down the road. That has meant a lot to me and I look forward to being able to help with that further.
- Answers: Regardless of whether I was asking what "code 66" meant or what c-reactive protein is, someone always was ready, willing and able to explain it to me. While I was going through the testing phase any medical questions I had (usually via email) were answered in a timely fashion (usually by phone!) and detailed enough that I wasn't left with more questions. It sounds simple but it doesn't always happen that way in life.