9 years ago today, when I was a college student, I donated my left kidney to my oldest sister. I am also currently a Paramedic. Feel free to ask me anything! I will be checking in and out all day, answering questions until midnight tonight. I'll try to answer all of them or as many as I can.

If the mods want proof of my kidney donation, I can send them a link to a story my college paper did about it. I don't want to post it here since it mentions my sister' s name and I didnt ask if she wants to have her name out there.

Proof of being a paramedic: https://ibb.co/g1Aws5

Just a note, I created this account just for this AMA. I like having privacy online for various reasons.

Edit: Thanks to everyone who asked questions or dropped by. I apologize for any short answers, but I did 99% of this in an ambulance either while responding to a call (my partner was driving) or while walking out of the hospital after transferring care. I've had a busy day, so I'm going to go sleep. However, I hope I at least answered some questions and even if you don't want to be a living donor, at least consider being a deceased organ donor. For some fun statistics you can go here: https://www.donatelife.net/statistics/ There is a shortage of organ donors and this problem is a growing problem as more people suffer organ failure. Even as a paramedic, I see a lot of people with organ failure from sickness, disease, or trauma.

I hope everyone has a great night and God bless!

Comments: 76 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

mujhair6 karma

How is your life different now, compared to when you still have both kidneys? Any noticeable health problems?

KidneyMedic9 karma

No differences at all except there are some medications I can't take because they're hard on kidneys. I'm also more mindful of that and don't use anti-persperant.

2pete5 karma

Why don't you use anti-persperant?

KidneyMedic8 karma

There's an ingredient in Anti-persperant (or most of them) based on Aluminum and I was told that can be a little hard on your kidneys as well. I never researched it when I got older, but I know my sister has told me she avoids them and was told by her doctor to. I'm sure it's a minor risk, but I just slather on deodorant.

leiffff1 karma

Any popular medications? I was born with one kidney so I am curious to see if I have been taking something I shouldn't be.

KidneyMedic6 karma

Aleve, ibuprofen, and aspirin are the three major ones. There are others, but those are the NSAIDs mostly used.

leiffff2 karma

Well crap.

KidneyMedic3 karma

I would imagine small doses might not be too bad. They did tell me if I ever needed to use them, my doctor would have to/should monitor kidney function with tests while using them. I rarely take any medicine though, so it's never been an issue. As always, it's best to talk to your doc about it if you have any questions.

fyrephoenix9115 karma

Hello fellow EMS person from PA. I'm surprised you showed your real name. Do chicks dig your scar?

KidneyMedic4 karma

It doesn't bother me too much, I help a friend with charity stuff, so I'm on the internet a bit haha. Which part of PA? Also, I never really showed it around. My girlfriend after I dated I showed it and it might have been a turn on, but my wife like I never told her until well after we were dating and such. People do look at you differently though.

fyrephoenix9111 karma

lol I took that from the movie "The Replacements" "chicks dig scars". Anywho, Just outside of Allentown:) And congrats on your donation! Truly awesome! A co-worker gave a Kidney to his brother, a very brave thing to do!

KidneyMedic1 karma

Thanks! And I've never been to Allentown, but always wanted to. A lot of famous people seem to be from there, haha.

Fishydeals3 karma

Donating an organ sounds like a hassle.

Would you have donated your kidney for a person outside of your family, too? Being cautious about medications sounds like a bummer and wouldn't you live a bit longer when you're old if you kept your kidneys?

It's absolutely excellent of you to donate your kidney, but I'd still be too scared/ selfish (okay.. maybe if it was my sister...)

KidneyMedic6 karma

It was a hassle. Normal testing for donations takes a year...i rushed it into 2 months. I was at Pittsburgh (2 hours away) every week pretty much. But it was my sister, haha. And not really, some people are born with only one kidney and don't even know it. The only meds I have to really worry about are NSAIDS. I never used them anyway. And actually, when I first said I was going to donate (I was 19), my sister said no, she wouldn't take it. I told her I would donate to someone else then so she may as well take it, haha. I've thought about if I could get back in shape and get off work and not starve of donating part of my liver to a stranger to celebrate 10 years.

KaiSanTastic3 karma

Is being a paramedic hard? What kinds of schooling did you have to do? Also, has your life changed after the donation? (i.e. do you feel different or are you able to do the same things as before)

KidneyMedic7 karma

Being a paramedic is challenging. I often hear a lot of people say that anyone can do it, but i disagree. You need to be able to make quick decisions that can have big consequences and something people struggle with is there isn't always a right choice. Sometimes you have to pick the best choice and there is no victory. I did my original first responder/EMT training which was about 9 months, i was a volunteer firefighter for about 3 years and I worked as an emt for 5 years. I decided it was time to be a medic when I was handling about 1000 calls a year with my service and doing almost everything for my medics except the ALS stuff. I even wrote their tripsheets for the most part. It was a long, hard year. Classes 2 nights a week, 1000s of hours of clinical including in the operating room, emergency department, Cath labs, and running with other ambulance services. I then took a hands on skills test and a written test.

I still feel the same for the most part. Occasionally I remember it happened and it's like 'oh wow, it's like another life.' But I don't hurt or really miss it. Just a little more conscious and protective of my remaining one.

DAVasquez-1 karma

Would you ask for a kidney replacement if available?

KidneyMedic8 karma

Nope. I really don't need it since you have two normally. I was told if mine failed, since I donated in good faith I would be moved to the front of the list. I would feel bad about doing that though, however, my sister's son (my nephew) has told me if mine ever failed he would donate to me.

neandersthall3 karma

Maybe if your sister dies you can have your own back someday?

KidneyMedic1 karma

I doubt it would still work, but im not sure.

Level_32_Mage5 karma

5 second rules apply!

KidneyMedic2 karma

That's only if they drop it haha

5280above1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA Travis. I've actually just started the process to give my dad a kidney. So far we've confirmed my blood type matches and gone through one 24 hour urine collection. Next step will be two days of misc. testing this Tuesday and Wednesday. What were the two months leading up to the surgery like? Did you do anything that accelerated the timeline?

KidneyMedic2 karma

They were super hectic. I had the basic blood work and urine stuff. They then went through my femoral artery and did a scan of my kidneys. I had a renal function flow scan as well to make sure both kidneys were doing equal or similar work and ensure I didn't have any issues. Then I had a psych exam because of my age. I had an ecg/chest x ray to ensure I could handle surgery. If you're not a match, ask about doing a donor exchange. When I went through they mentioned there were 8 families with donors and they didn't match their loved one, but between all 8 of them all 8 couples got a kidney for the one who needed it. There are people like that out there.

As for accelerating everything, I was just doing the tests one after another and then right into surgery almost. Usually they space them out. The test where they went through my femoral, it took a few days to recover and such, but i pushed through and just jumped through. It was nearly a test a week and the last week was a few years over a few days. I also met with the coordinator and the surgeon and such over those weeks as well.

Recovery is long. You'll feel your guts move around a bit, you'll be winded easier for a bit. But it's worth it. No matter what you do, you know you've made a difference in at least one life.

eagle41231 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA How do you back up your certs?

KidneyMedic1 karma

Back up my certs? Like recertify?

eagle41231 karma

Like do you keep copies somewhere in case you lose your original

KidneyMedic1 karma

Oh haha. Everything is all pretty much stored at our local ems council. If I ever lost my medic cert card, I could get a new one from them. My PALS/ACLS are with the American Heart Association, so I can get copies through them. Our ems company keeps copies for their records so if the state ever wants to see them they have them.

31BravoKJ1 karma

Hello! Since I've read something on Reddit about donating Bone Marrow, I've wanted to get set up to donate. I read that it's a big procedure and it takes you out of life for a few weeks/months. I don't know if I remember all this information correctly. Is this something I can sign up for now, or should I wait until I finish school and start my career? Times are tough trying to get through all of this alone, so I couldn't afford to be out for more than a few days. Thanks in advance!

KidneyMedic2 karma

I would ask your doctor/the place that does it. I'm not too familiar with bone marrow transplants. I can say it's probably just a risk of breaking more than healing and such since they go into the bone for it.

im_a_moose1 karma

Why specifically your left kidney vs the right? How do you / your doctors decide which to take?

KidneyMedic1 karma

Left is less invasive. They ran a test though to make sure they both do the same amount of work. Also, found out my right kidney has an extra ureter on it. So they did testing to make sure left would be ok since it's preferred. I believe the right they have to go in through the back, but the left can be laprascopically.

EMStrauma1 karma

How great are your protocols?

KidneyMedic1 karma

Sometimes they're amazing. I have pretty liberal pain medication protocols and I can do surgical airways...but other things we need to work on. I don't understand why I can cut people's throats to tube them, but can't do RSI without permission from the DoH. I really wish we had certain meds written into protocols for uses. Like nebulized Mag for asthma/COPD and such. So I guess it's like most states where there are good and bad.

AliceFisher1 karma

I can understand donating to save a close relative or friend... but does this not significantly reduce your own lifespan and have a large number of potential complications?

KidneyMedic2 karma

Lifespan wise, I'll live as long as I would with two kidneys. Some people only have one and never know until later in life or even death during a deceased donation. Complications are the same as any surgery, which have passed me by now. I'll live a healthy normal life and I'm not at risk for anything else really.

Floormf1 karma

Totally unrelated to kidneys, but are you originally from PA? If so, what town?

KidneyMedic2 karma

I am originally from Altoona, though I don't live there anymore.

KidneyMedic1 karma

I am originally from Altoona, though I don't live there anymore.

Floormf1 karma

Ah, thats a bit westward from where i am near scranton. Well, cheers fellow PA native!

KidneyMedic2 karma

I believe I've been through Scranton once or twice!

WantToStayAnonymous11 karma

Hey! I always thought that this career path would be really interesting for me tho I dont think that my poor country has these kind of workplaces :D what did you have to get rid off after the surgery? Habits, activities. What are the requirements for your job? Share a bit about your work and how did it change after the donation. What was your sister diagnosed with? And did the transplant help her?

KidneyMedic3 karma

Nope, nothing such as activities or habits changed after surgery. I didnt start doing EMS until after I donated (been in EMS for 7 years). My job includes pharmacology, cardiac treatments, advanced airway management, and other emergency medical stuff. I'd say a good sense of humor, decent physical shape, and compassion are must have requirements.

They diagnosed her with some big word that literally was a name for 'we don't know why it failed.' The transplant did help her though. She improved greatly before they even sewed her up. She wasn't producing much urine before and she started as soon as the kidney was connected. She did have one prior that lasted 15 years before I donated. It was a better match, but she's said mine has made her felt better, probably because I was a living donor. Her other donation was from a cadaver or deceased donor.

What was really eye opening for me at the time was that she doesn't smoke or drink alcohol or do drugs, but genetically had kidney failure. You never really think about it and then it happened and made me realize that anyone can have an organ fail for any reason.

WantToStayAnonymous11 karma

Thank you for your answer. What about your drinking? Can you drink alcohol now?

KidneyMedic1 karma

I can. I've never drank alcohol before, just because I've seen a lot of alcoholism in my personal life and my professional life. It just never appeals to me much. I rarely even drink caffeine, but i love the mountain dew spiked lemonade. That's what I drink when I'm letting down haha.

ABookishSort1 karma

I was looking through this thread for the cause of her kidney failure. So they really don't know why it failed? I didn't even know that was a thing.

My husband had a friend donate a kidney to him back in 2001. My husband and his four brothers all have (or had) Polycystic kidney disease. We lost two of his brother's to complications from health issues most likely relating to the disease. I have one BIL who has a transplant that predates my husband's and another BIL who does not have any kidney failure. With PKD there is only a 50% chance of kidney failure.

I'm so grateful for our friend donating to my husband. I knew he wasn't feeling well being on dialysis but it wasn't until after the surgery when I saw his coloring and saw how much better he looked that I realized what kind of toll it had taken on him. It was like night and day.

KidneyMedic3 karma

My sister always said that dialysis helps you live, but it's not a good quality of life. She improved immensely after surgery, it was almost amazing how fast and how much. Yeah I apologize I can't remember the big name, I just know they said that it meant they really didn't know.

jonnybebad54361 karma

How's your sister doing? Will she been needing another transplant eventually? I'm 25 and just got diagnosed with a rare kidney disease due to being born with 1 kidney and I'll be needing a transplant too.

KidneyMedic2 karma

Sorry for the late reply, Reddit was glitching on my phone at times during the day. She's doing great. She gets yearly tests done to ensure her Kidney is doing well. The doctor's said the kidney I gave should have no problem lasting 30 or 40 years (she was around 40 when I donated). They're unsure of why her first transplant failed. It's possible because it missed it's plane (the longer an organ is out of the body, it can lose some function). Also living donor organs are better than cadavers because they're still actively functioning fully and have blood and such inside them. However, I've had patients with cadaver donations that are doing wonderful.

I wish you the best of luck though! Stay in there, stay positive! Have a great support system and I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

5280above1 karma

Thanks again for doing this as you're the first person I've spoken to that's donated. How long did you spend in the hospital after surgery? How long after that before you were able to get back to work? Any insight/advice for the post surgery period is appreciated.

KidneyMedic2 karma

I spent a week inside the hospital. Usually, it's only about 3 days, but being from another city I didn't have anyone to get me until Saturday so I was able to stay a little longer.

I was a college student at the time and I had left my previous job before the surgery. I started working in October as a stock clerk for a grocery store. It was about 8 weeks until I could lift over 5 lbs to avoid herniating.

My first bit of advice is to have a good support group. Walk as soon as the doctor says you can. It helps your body begin to realign your organs inside and get things moving again. Do your breathing exercises, as that will help you regain some strength and help prevent pneumonia.

And remember that you're doing a great thing. Despite some misinformed naysayers, the pros outweigh the cons. There are some risks, but they're rare. Listen to your doctor and there is a whole group out there of living donors and recipients that are great support.

rejectedstrawberry0 karma

ask you anything? sure.

how precisely do i "donate" my kidney but also get paid for it. Have a need for money, dont have a need for two kidneys, have no desire to spend my time in hospitals doing any kind of screening tests without getting paid for it.

I mean if you want me to give up an organ its only fair to expect compensation, ESPECIALLY as there are plenty of downsides to losing one kidney

KidneyMedic2 karma

There are really no downsides to losing one kidney. And in the US, selling an organ for money is illegal. However, I imagine there are many third world countries where theyll kidnap you and do it, but you probably wouldn't survive since they'll take all your organs.

rejectedstrawberry-2 karma

There are really no downsides to losing one kidney.

you mean like the ones you totally didnt mention in your own damn replies about not being able to take as many nsaids? yeah no downsides at all. Nice job lying out of your ass.

And in the US, selling an organ for money is illegal.

A) when has that stopped anyone

B) the entire world is NOT the US. youre a tiny portion of the world most people dont even care about

C) I guess i'll watch people dying because of lack of organs from the comfort of my seat then :)

KidneyMedic4 karma

NSAIDS aren't essential to live. There are plenty of medications that you can take that have the same effect.

I said in the US, because that's where I live. I never suggested that it was the whole world.

There's a lack of organs because of people like you who can't see what's in it for them so they won't do it or because of lies and fears that are unfounded and people won't donate.

rejectedstrawberry-5 karma

NSAIDS aren't essential to live. There are plenty of medications that you can take that have the same effect.

Nevertheless it is a downside. one you are very conveniently neglecting to mention to people. theres lots of things that arent "essential". doesnt mean they arent important.

There's a lack of organs because of people like you who can't see what's in it for them so they won't do it or because of lies and fears that are unfounded and people won't donate.

Well there is nothing in it for me. i get no benefit and all of the downsides in such a transaction. theres nothing in it for supermajority of the people who can donate. And they shouldnt donate either, not until they are allowed to do so on their own terms, even if that includes selling those organs.

KidneyMedic1 karma

Downsides would be a negative that would effect your quality of life. Most NSAIDs are used for muscle soreness type things and you could easily take Tylenol and be fine with the same effect.

And this is why the world is in the shape it's in, because of people like you who don't want to help others unless they get something. Yet, when you need help, you probably cry the loudest for people who do help. Also, you talk about doing it on their own terms, but if you start paying people, it really won't be on their own terms since you'll have poor people donating to get by. That's the point, it should be a freely given, non-coerced or forced gift.

rejectedstrawberry-2 karma

And this is why the world is in the shape it's in, because of people like you who don't want to help others unless they get something.

you cant ask for me to compromise my own body for literally no benefit

Yet, when you need help, you probably cry the loudest for people who do help.

and you have facts to back this up?

Also, you talk about doing it on their own terms, but if you start paying people, it really won't be on their own terms since you'll have poor people donating to get by.

that is on their terms. they consented to it. no one forced them into it, they couldve continued living literally like they are right now.

KidneyMedic1 karma

Except you're not compromising your own body.

Not really. Would they do it if they aren't poor? If they're doing it to get by and survive, they're being forced to do something they normally wouldn't.

rejectedstrawberry0 karma

Except you're not compromising your own body.

major surgeries dont matter anymore? or lack of one of the organs? Holy shit youre delusional.

Not really. Would they do it if they aren't poor? If they're doing it to get by and survive, they're being forced to do something they normally wouldn't

Its still their choice no matter how many mental gymnastics medals you have, they can just not do it, like theyre not doing now. if you care so much about poverty solve that first before you open your mouth about poor people selling organs

KidneyMedic2 karma

Everything has risks. I can tell you that in that operating room, I was safer than I am when I'm in a car. My health and psychological well being was screened and watched before. During I had a team of people who are pretty great at what they do. There's always the risk of infection, but I can also get an infection pretty easily from other, non-surgical methods as well. Once surgery is over and the incisions heal, there's not really too much of a risk for infection.

Obviously the lack of one organ or a part of an organ doesn't matter too much since there are hundreds of thousands of people who are living perfectly normal lives with one organ or part of an organ missing. Some don't even know they only have one kidney.

Also, I'm probably doing more to try and help poverty than you are, since you probably don't see the benefit or potential gain for yourself.

TheExile70 karma

Did you have a real person wating for a donation, or just donated it into the blue. Mind my writing, this was a very brave feat.

How long was the operation?

Any sideaffects when hiking etc?

Do you have to train special fitness and / or dietary intakes?

[edit:removed a question as payments are illegal for organs]

What person/thiught/film made you decide to donate exactly the kidney and overall what sparked the "yes I will do it"

KidneyMedic5 karma

I donated to my oldest sister. So once she found out hers was failing, I jumped up and volunteered. I then began undergoing a LOT of tests.

Operation was about 2 hours I believe. My surgeon was really good.

Nope, no side effects really at all except I stopped working out afterwards (8 weeks recovery to be cleared entirely). But if I started again, no problems.

No dietary restrictions other than dont slam protein. I wasn't paid for it. In the US, that's supposed to be illegal. However, my hospital bills and stay were 100 percent covered by Medicare I believe.

And my sister had her kidney fail, so that was why. If it was her liver, id have done that instead.

TheExile72 karma

This is truely inspiring! You are amazing.

KidneyMedic1 karma

Thank you so much!