Life given, life taken

It saddens me to read the headlines and watch the news reports about the four Chicago-area transplant recipients who have contracted HIV from their deceased transplant donor. The very thought of what has happened is heavy on my heart.

Just as the chance of a healthy life is given, it is snatched away.

I can't even imagine how the recipients and their families feel. The emotions of grief and anger, come to mind - a gift that was so freely shared, selflessly given to save a life, has now turned into a medical endeavor ever-increasing in complexity. The transplants these four people received, new organs intended to save their lives, might now mean a quicker route to death's door.

While events like this are very rare, it was one of the outcomes (ie. receiving a transmittable disease) that I had to prepare myself for, and accept, before I could go forward with a kidney transplant. It was extremely important to me to be prepared for every single possible outcome before I underwent a transplant.

I made the conscious decision to wait for four years on dialysis before pursuing the transplant - I believed, and still believe, that knowing I was at peace with whatever happened would give me the best possible chance.

No amount of peace has been afforded to the four transplant patients in Chicago. No fleeting opportunity for possible health has been afforded. Dreams of futures have become nightmares of what seemed almost impossible...

I'm sure they never expected to receive an organ along with a good dose of HIV - my heart goes out to all of them, and like most of you, I wish I could do something... but the only thing I can do is hope, wish, pray that there will be some way...

Please, if you or anyone you know have ever been touched by organ donation, send good thoughts (and prayers) their way - they'll need it.

Today's Kidney Education: "In 1994, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines for transplant professionals to identify and try to minimize the risk of transmission of HIV. From the time those guidelines were issued until the present instance, there have been no documented instances of HIV transmission through organ transplantation in the United States." OPTN/UNOS Statement Regarding HIV and Hepatitis C Transmission through Organ Transplantation