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Lisa Sayer
Lisa Sayer

How does it feel to donate a kidney? Add to ...

Earlier this year, Lisa Sayer's life took an unexpected turn. "She had come across a magazine article about someone who had donated a kidney to their partner," writes Marina Jiménez in Related contentMy domino kidney . "The piece included this alarming number: Nearly 60 people in Canada die each year waiting for a kidney.

"It seemed radical, yet it made perfect sense. Here was a concrete way to help out someone else in need: She could give one of her healthy kidneys to a complete stranger.

"'You take something out of someone and you put it into someone else," says Ms. Sayer ... 'I fell in love with that idea. It became very appealing.'

"Ms. Sayer had no idea she would become the domino in a chain of events that would make Canadian medical history. In an extraordinary new program in the high-stakes world of kidney transplantation, her gift of life would end up helping not just one person, but four."

Ms. Sayer took questions about her experience donating a kidney to a complete stranger. You can read her replies below.

Kathy writes: I've been thinking of doing this for my boyfriend (I'm past child bearing years), but we're not a match so we'd have to exchange with another couple. How did you explain this to your family and what were their reactions? What happened with work - did you have to take vacation time or a leave of absence, or is it considered sick time?

Lisa Sayer: Kathy, At first, my family was very supportive with my decision. It was only after I passed all the testing that they started to voice any concerns. Even then, it was mostly my husband who had misgivings and I know they were based on his fear of needles, hospitals etc. (He was severely burnt as an infant). I have found that a lot of people who react in a negative way do so out of fear or out of feeling guilty somehow that they too aren't donating. Like my donating somehow is a judgment on them, which is really silly. As for work, my doctor didn't want me to return to work until eight weeks post surgery as my job involves heavy lifting, but I have heard of people returning to work as early as two weeks post. As my employer has no medical leave programs I went on EI for the eight weeks but there is a two week waiting period. Again, kind of silly if you ask me.

Bob writes: Hi Lisa, Great for you for doing this and donating your kidney ! I have two cousins and an uncle who died from kidney failure. I am at the middle part of a barrage of tests to hopefully be matched with someone who can use one of my kidneys.

Did you, can you have a pint or two of your own blood taken prior to the operation as I would think that you need blood for the operation? It would seem like a good precaution.

Did you take a medication prior to the CT scan to offset effects of the solution they put in your veins? While I did not have any real side effects from the test, it was a very uncomfortable sensation when they initially released the solution to my vein.

Now that you have done it, what are one or two things you would recommend or suggest to someone donating that you wish you had known or done beforehand?

Lisa Sayer: Bob, I did not have any blood taken prior to surgery as I was told the chances of needed a transfusion were quite slim, so I don't know what the possibility of doing a donation pre-surgery would be. Probably the coordinator for whatever transplant team you are involved with could answer that question for you, I have found them to be very helpful in that regard. I did not take any medication prior to the CT scan. I wasn't aware that was an option and I didn't really have any side effects from it. I do remember the feeling of the solution streaming through your body, and you are right, it is unusual to say the least.

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