Since I have been working at children’s hospital in Los Angeles, I have become very interested in learning about organ transplants. I substitute teach at the hospital so I have become acquainted with the process that has been used for kidney transplants. I have learned quite a bit. Most of my experiences with organ transplants have been with children who are undergoing dialysis due to a poor functioning kidney.
Most of the children who are in this department are teenagers. I do not feel depressed, as one would think, because there is a bright future for them. Also, most of these kids I come in contact with, are happy, well-adjusted and seem to have a good home life. These children attend public schools twice a week. Three times a week they are at the hospital for their treatment. They are on a machine for approximately two hours. It is during this time that a teacher comes in and does school work with them. It could be an assignment that their regular teacher has given them from their school or something that hospital teachers are trained to do. This means that they can do Math, English, History, or Science according to their grade level or their ability. My job is to take over the hospital teacher’s job when he or she is absent. I work with other kids at this hospital and other hospitals also, but I became particularly interested in kids who are undergoing dialysis.
The main purpose of dialysis is to purify the blood since the kidney that does not function too well cannot do the work. These kids sit in a chair in a semi-reclining position next to a machine that takes the toxic blood away so that it can be purified. The purified blood which replaces the impure blood is then put back into the patient’s body. There is a tube that is connected to the patient’s body. You can see the impure blood that is drawn away from the kidney into another tube to be purified. The healthy blood is then brought back from another tube to be placed back into the kidney. Since I am not a doctor or a nurse, I am simplifying this method.
What really impresses me, is the fact that due to modern science, children as well as adults who have a poor functioning kidney, can be helped by having a kidney transplant from another person with a healthy kidney. Some of these children are at the hospital for several years before they can get a kidney transplant.
If these kids do not go through dialysis or if they cannot get another kidney, they will die. Fortunately, there are some wonderful people who are willing to donate their kidney . When an adult receives a kidney, it will be taken from an adult who has a healthy kidney. Children or teenagers will have to wait until they can get one from their own age group. The new kidney will grow as the child grows. Kidneys taken from children are sometimes donated by parents whose child has recently died or it can be donated by a sibling in the family.
Since we are born with two kidneys, we can survive with only one, provided that the one remaining kidney is a healthy one. Therefore, the donor can live with one kidney as well as the receiver. Children and adults who go through dialysis sometimes have both kidneys that are not performing well. However, they will not have to continue with dialysis if they are fortunate enough to receive a donor’s kidney.
A donor is a courageous and giving person. However, it takes more than these characteristics to be able to donate one’s kidney. It is necessary to get a blood test from the patient and the donor. The blood type has to match. This is why it is more desirable if a kidney is offered by a relative of a patient. The chances of getting the right type of blood is more probable than getting blood from a stranger. However, this is not always true. Sometimes a patient has to wait years before he/she can find the right donor.
Fortunately, science has made much progress. The reason patients are not rejecting organs as they did years ago is because new drugs have been developed to prevent rejection. The transplant procedure for the donor is much simpler than it is for the receiver. The donor usually remains for a very short time in the hospital. This is not true for the receiver. Also, the patient has to be very careful during his/her lifetime because their resistance to diseases is extremely low. They have to be very cautious about going into crowds, especially during the flu season. They also have to take medication for the rest of their lives to help them from contracting anything that can be contagious.
Doctors are hoping that in the near future it won’t be necessary to get organs from a donor. They are trying to find a way to get what they call a bionic device to place into the patient’s body. They are working on this in the laboratory and are hoping to get it approved. Scientists are working on a bionic heart and lung as well as a bionic kidney. These devices have to be tested many, many times. The tests then have to be approved by a medical board and by a government agency. This process is a long one and takes time and money.