Friday, August 29, 2008

Kidney Failure

This note is a cross-post from my more active (at least until now) blog:   I'm going to try and move most of my posts to this blog because it has a more general audience.

In February of this year, My second oldest son, Asaf was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure. Simply put, both his kidneys are damaged and scarred from some infection or defect that happened years ago.  They will likely cease to function sometime within the next six months.

The good news is that there is no immediate danger to his life.  Kidney Dialysis is a viable option and can maintain his health for up to ten or more years if necessary.  Unfortunately, the process is not easy and there are potential side effects. Given Asaf's generally excellent health and age, Kidney Dialysis is considered only a stop-gap measure and not a long term solution.

The best solution for Asaf is a kidney transplant.   Many kidneys are donated postmortem. Cadaver kidneys are the most common form of transplant. These organs are allocated on a priority basis to eligible recipients.  In Israel, you must already be on dialysis and meet a
specific set of criteria in order to qualify for one of these rare organs.

The other option is to find a live kidney donor.  Most people are born with two healthy kidneys.  The human body is a marvelous machine and can comfortably get by with just one kidney.   I am a living example, having been born with one kidney.  Live organ donors are considered the best option for kidney transplants.  The percentage of successful transplants is higher from a live donor and the transplanted kidney has a longer chance of surviving in the recipient's body.

Unfortunately, after we discovered Asaf's condition, upon testing the other kids, we found that kidney disease has manifested itself in various non-threatening ways in our other children as well.    Because of incompatible blood types, kidney disease (including one aunt who
also has one kidney), and age, all of Asaf's siblings, parents, aunts and uncles, and all his first cousins have been eliminated as potential donors.

The first step to being a kidney donor is to be in perfect health. The second step is to have a compatible blood type. Asaf has a blood type of B negative.  That means that possible donors are people with B or O  blood.  We recently learned that Rh factor is not an issue in donor transplants, and that should make our search somewhat easier.  B- is one of the rarer blood types, occurring in only %2 of the general population.  B+ is a bit better at %9.

Donating a kidney is not a simple undertaking and not one to be taken lightly. There are potential complications, but most donors live long and successful lives, knowing that they made a difference to someone in need.  The cost of a transplant is covered for both the donor and the
recipient for Israeli citizens.  We don't really know about the rules in the US, but we are beginning to learn.  The medical and legal community has ruled that it is illegal to sell a kidney.  As such, any payment of any kind to the donor will disqualify them.  Kidney donations from live donors must be 100% altruistic.

Please contact us if you know of anyone who might be willing to donate one of their kidneys to Asaf.  The process takes about six months and requires numerous meetings with doctors, social workers, psychologists and committees to make sure that the decision is freely made and will not jeopardize the donor or the recipient. The recovery time for the donor after the transplant can be as fast at 3-4 days.

Right now, Asaf has no symptoms other than very poor blood tests and some slight fatigue.  He has recently changed his diet in an attempt to delay dialysis for as long as possible.  There is no cure for Asaf's existing kidneys.   At his current rate of decline, he will need a kidney transplant sometime in the next 12 months.


  • Found your blog on Melissa's. She is a wonderful strong woman. I was so interested in your story since I am a retired dialysis nurse. We also just recently had a young (19) year old niece who got a kidney from her dad. You are right it is a complicated thing to deal with. Your laws in Israel are different than in US, I think better there. I feel sure he is on the list and prayers, however ones believes to use prayer, is a wonderful way to help in dealing with this. I would be honored to follow your blog for the privilege of being attuned to your family's needs and to help in my own way. Visit my neck of the woods if you choose and Blessings.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:04 AM, August 23, 2009  

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