Earlier this year I decided to donate a kidney, despite not knowing anyone who needed one. Last week I went through with it and had my left kidney taken out, and I'm now at home recuperating from the surgery. I wrote about why I'm doing this in ArcDigital. Through this process, I've also become an advocate for encouraging others to consider donating, and an advocate for changing our approach to kidney policy (which actively makes the kidney crisis worse).

Ask me anything about donating a kidney!


If anyone is interested in learning more about becoming a donor, please check out these resources:

  • Waitlistzero is a non-profit working to end the kidney crisis, and was an excellent resource for me. I'd highly recommend getting in touch with them if you're curious, they'll have someone call you to talk.
  • My previous mentioned post about why I'm donating
  • Dylan Matthews of Vox writes about his decision to donate a kidney to a stranger, and what the experience was like.
  • The National Kidney Registry is the organization that helped arrange my donation to a stranger.
  • If you're a podcast person, I interviewed Dylan Matthews about his decision to donate here and interviewed Nobel Prize winning economist Alvin Roth about kidney policy here.

Proof:

I've edited the Medium post above to link to this AMA. In addition to the Medium post and podcast episodes above, here's an album of my paperwork, hospital stay, and a shot of my left kidney sitting in a metal pan.

Comments: 1873 • Responses: 98  • Date: 

Edd246012900 karma

Do donors get to the top of the waiting list if one day they need a kidney? Cause I think that would be reassuring and maybe increase the number of donors.

MrDannyOcean3713 karma

Yes, if I ever end up in need of a kidney (not very common at all among living donors) i would go straight to the top of the list.

edit: not literally 'straight to the top of the list' but I get heavy preference.

jim_br250 karma

I've heard that getting to the top of the list applies to immediate family members too. Meaning if you are not a compatible donor for a family member in need, you could elect to donate and therefore boost their chances. Is this true?

BTW: thanks for a truly selfless act.

MrDannyOcean464 karma

In fact, I was part of an additional program which allows a family member to get a voucher for a kidney as well. Basically one downside is 'what if your wife or brother ends up needing your kidney'. To help alleviate that concern, if my family member does need one, they ALSO get to jump to the top of the list.

from earlier

Kytothelee863 karma

How are you feeling today? Will you get to meet the person?

MrDannyOcean1666 karma

Today is day 6 post-operation, and I'm feeling pretty good so far today. The pain is mostly gone, and what's left is a vague feeling of discomfort in my abdomen. That and I'm pretty tired all the time, which I've heard lasts a couple weeks.

I may meet the person in the future if they want to reach out - but if they want to keep things anonymous, I won't get to meet them. Completely their choice.

besttrousers261 karma

Do you know of anyone who has both donated a kidney and had a caesarean? I'm curious what the comparison is.

MrDannyOcean284 karma

Many kidney donation scars end up looking pretty similar to c-section scars. Don't know anyone who's had both though.

foxtailavenger566 karma

Are there any implications on your future life as a result of this?

Also I really wanna thank you for doing this the world needs more organ donors!

MrDannyOcean765 karma

Donors have a very slightly increased risk of End Stage Renal Disease, from 0.3% to 0.9%.

Also, I'm going to switch from ibuprofen to Tylenol. Honestly that's about it.

sscan456201 karma

How come the switch? I gave up a kidney 12 years ago - I’m 36 now.

MrDannyOcean169 karma

ibuprofen is mildly nephrotoxic, from what I understand.

speckofSTARDUST385 karma

I’ve always heard that organ transplants are harder on the donor than the receiver.

How will this impact you? Any lifestyle/diet changes required as a result?

MrDannyOcean522 karma

I heard that as well, but I'm not sure it's accurate. They've gotten very, very good at making the donation surgery pretty seamless. My surgery was the morning of the 25th, and I was discharged from the hospital on the morning of the 27th.

The first couple days were super shitty, can't lie. But each day has gotten progressive better than the day before, and less than a week out from surgery I'm nearly pain free. At this point it's just discomfort and tired-ness. I think the recipient has a longer stay in the hospital and more recovery - the doctors have to do a lot more work to make sure the donated kidney is not being rejected, and working as it should.

PseudonymousDev67 karma

What do you mean your first couple of days were super shitty? How bad were they?

MrDannyOcean184 karma

Lots of pain, lots of fatigue, unable to sleep much because of the pain.

As far as how bad, I'd say the first 24 hours post surgery were like a really, really bad flu in terms of feeling like absolute death. The next 24 hours were like a moderate case of the flu where you just feel shitty and weak overall. The 24 after that were like recovering from the flu where you're still kinda weak but you can tell things are ok and you want to get moving.

MrDannyOcean130 karma

No real lifestyle changes other than not taking ibuprofen any more (switching to tylenol). Diet will be the same. Impact in the long run is basically just that my risk for End Stage Renal Disease increases from 0.3% to 0.9%, which is still extremely small.

joris58 karma

So you have a 0.9 percent chance you end up getting it in your life?

You tripled the odds then right?

Im not trying to be a weenie, im sincerely curious.

MrDannyOcean82 karma

Yes, that's correct. The risk is tripled, but still 99% of the time I won't be getting it.

Ugghhh666339 karma

Not a question, but this is one of the best AMA I’ve read. It’s honestly made me question donating one of my kidneys myself. My only setback would be recovery time/loss of wages. How did you choose this time was the time to do it now?

MrDannyOcean339 karma

Luckily my work has a paid short-term leave policy, so I am not missing any paychecks to do this.

Starting later this year, the federal government will reimburse all lost wages, travel expenses and child care costs for living donors. So hopefully this isn't a concern for anyone again.

RadicalRadon311 karma

Did you get to chose if it was the left or right? Or do they always take the left?

MrDannyOcean598 karma

This is an interesting question! They actually examine your kidneys to see if one is better than another, and if one is better they leave you with the better one.

If they're the same, they always take the left side. It has longer ureters (connecting tubes) which makes transplanting into the recipient easier.

squid50s227 karma

How complicated was the experience of getting your left kidney taken out?

MrDannyOcean400 karma

Pretty complicated. You have to do a lot of pre-operation testing to make sure you're ready and able to donate. They do tons of health screenings, blood analysis, psych evaluations, etc. I probably went into the hospital 4-5 times before my actual surgery to pass a lot of these checkpoints.

As for the actual surgery, that was easy. I just had to show up.

nlsoy206 karma

Your left kidney was most likely placed on the recipients right side of their body. That means if you and your recipient hug each other, your kidneys will be close enough to hug as well. How does that make you feel?

MrDannyOcean239 karma

that's super cute tbh

UpsideVII174 karma

Non-matched donors are important because they can set off a "chain" of matches, correct?

I know you don't necessarily get to find out who gets your kidney, but do you get to find out how long the chain you created ends up being?

MrDannyOcean364 karma

You're right. My donation started a 'donation chain'. My recipient had a family member willing to donate, but they weren't a match to their family member in need. So since I donated to that person (person A), A's family member will pass it along and donate to someone else in the same situation (person B), who has a family member that will pass it along to a person C, etc. I don't know how long my chain is, but I'm hoping to find out soon.

Image showing kidney chain in practice

Taco-twednesday105 karma

You might even start off a bunch of chains from this AMA. I'm sure some people on the fence will start looking into it more seriously!

MrDannyOcean99 karma

That's why I'm doing it, ultimately. Hopefully more people consider donating!

fradigit38 karma

You said your family members get to the top of the waiting list since you donated. How does that work for this chain? Wouldn't their family members still donate so that their loved ones would be put at the top of the list, before you came into the picture?

MrDannyOcean81 karma

The family member thing is for non-directed donors like me. The people involved in the chain are directed - they're donating for a specific family member, even though their kidney isn't going to that specific person.

BainCapitalist163 karma

Presumably you didn't pay anything for the surgery, but there's no such thing as a free lunch. What does the opportunity cost look like for you? Did you get sick pay for all days you spent out of work?

MrDannyOcean386 karma

Great question. I'm very lucky in that my work allows paid short term leave, and they were able to arrange it so that I'm not missing any paychecks. Not everybody has this, however, and it's been a big problem that some people would effectively 'pay' thousands of dollars in lost wages in order to donate.

Luckily, an administrative policy change by the US Gov. is helping to fix that. Starting later this year, the government will reimburse lost wages, travel costs and childcare costs for all living kidney donors. I'm very hopeful this will lead to more donations and more lives saved.

qroosra137 karma

I will be following up on this. As soon as this is available I will start the process of donating. Thanks so much for this ama. I would not have considered this without it.

MrDannyOcean72 karma

Thanks so much for considering donating! Waitlist Zero (linked in my OP) was a fantastic resource for me, and they'll personally call you to help walk you through all the options and programs. Or feel free to DM me any time.

cdstephens136 karma

Are there any other organs that would be easily donated like a kidney?

Do you think direct monetary compensation for kidney donation would be good (ranging from the individual to the government itself compensating the donor in some way), or would your prefer that it stay a purely charitable endeavor?

MrDannyOcean321 karma

Compensation for kidney donation is a tricky ethical topic. Right now only one country allows for kidney donors to be paid (Iran). While I think that there are legitimate ethical concerns about paying people for organs, doing so would almost certainly end the kidney waitlist, which is currently around 100,000 people. I'm willing to swallow some of those ethical concerns if it means saving that many people's lives. Nobody on the kidney waitlist has to die, but tens of thousands do every single year because we don't have enough donated kidneys.

GypsySnowflake54 karma

Did you have to pay your own medical bills, or is that covered?

MrDannyOcean230 karma

Direct out of pocket costs for me were zero. Medicare pays for all kidney donations in the US. This is because Medicare pays for all dialysis in the US, regardless of age, and dialysis is so incredibly expensive that donations save them a ton of money. They're very happy to pay for kidney donations for that reason.

GypsySnowflake45 karma

That’s awesome! And you don’t have to actually have Medicare yourself?

MrDannyOcean86 karma

Nope, I never had to so much as present an insurance card.

hockeyjim0720 karma

how about recuperation and recovery? how long can you go back to your surgeon / doctor for related 'issues' and still have it covered? Obviously I'm hoping there are none for you, but just curious if they've thought that part through.

MrDannyOcean24 karma

I have to go back and check, but I think it's at least a couple years.

lonas_22 karma

If that's true that's pretty fucking sweet. I just filled out a donor application, thank you for raising my awareness regarding this!

MrDannyOcean14 karma

thanks for applying!

pamplemouss28 karma

I feel like at the very least, the costs of any time taken off work should be compensated, and maybe a small stipend that would allow taking Ubers instead of bussing/driving and ordering food instead of making it for a week after.

MrDannyOcean80 karma

luckily, starting later this year the federal government will reimburse all lost wages, travel expenses and child care costs for living donors. So hopefully this isn't a concern for anyone again.

nperkins848 karma

Compensation for kidneys or other organs would almost certainly effect poorer citizens more adversely than richer citizens. Poorer citizens would need money more and only richer ones could pay the fee. I don't think it's an ethical situation we should put ourselves in. There may be better ways to engage people into the lists, but money likely wouldn't end well. I think some countries now have a donor registry by default and you have to specifically opt out. That only comes into play if you die. I'm totally on board with that. The opt in scenario we have now doesn't even remotely cover need. The organs of the dead alone would likely cover a huge portion of the need.

MrDannyOcean14 karma

There's actually been some disappointing research recently that shows opt-in vs opt-out does not make any significant difference - http://marketdesigner.blogspot.com/2019/06/organ-donation-by-opt-out-versus-opt-in.html.

The proposal I'm in favor of would have the government as the 'single purchaser' of kidneys, and they then set the price such that they get enough kidneys to give to everyone on the waitlist. This means that your income wouldn't be a factor in getting a kidney, which is a morally repugnant outcome.

MrDannyOcean57 karma

The only other organ that I'm aware of that can be donated like a kidney is the liver - you only have one, but they can take a portion of your liver to give to someone else. I believe living-donor liver donation is much riskier than kidney donation, however.

kasenkollin57 karma

I donated 70% of my liver to my dad, HepC. He is going on 19 years with it. I do believe that they slowed the liver donations down, doners kept dying on the table.

MrDannyOcean50 karma

yeah I think for kidney donation death on the table is ultra rare, something like 1 in 10000 if you don't have high blood pressure (that's lower than the rate of death in childbirth). For liver transplants, I think it's more like 1 in 400 or 1 in 500. Lot more serious.

dazedwit125 karma

Does this shorten your life span?

MrDannyOcean155 karma

It doesn't! There are very few long term effects from kidney donation.

dazedwit56 karma

It must be an urban legend - I always thought you lost 10(?) years off your life.

MrDannyOcean162 karma

Nope! See this literature review of 52 different kidney donation studies.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29379948

Basically there are some small increased risks of specific things, but "No evidence suggested higher risk for all-cause mortality".

gaurdianxasari114 karma

You said above that if a family member ever needs a kidney, they will go to the top of the list as well. My dad needs a kidney, but I am not a match. If I donate to a stranger, will my dad go to the top of the list?

MrDannyOcean127 karma

You can donate to a stranger and your dad will get a priority voucher, yes. I'm describing it in very rough terms, but your local transplant coordination team will be able to give you more details.

ClintonLewinsky109 karma

As someone on the wait list, thank you very much.

Would you like to meet the person you donated to? And why/not?

MrDannyOcean56 karma

I'm ok either way. If they want to meet, I'd be happy to but I'm also ok if it never happens.

sinistimus98 karma

Did you have any family/friends who were concerned by your decision? And if so what did you do to ease their fears?

MrDannyOcean141 karma

My family were all incredibly supportive. Most of them were a little shocked at first, but quickly bought into the idea of helping someone in need. It helped a lot that I had done a ton of research, and was able to provide lots of information about how kidney donors don't really have many negative health impacts from donation.

jimmycarr119 karma

I read your other comment that there isn't much difference in outcomes for donors and non-donors, but when something does go wrong what tends to be the problem with donors?

MrDannyOcean25 karma

Donors have a very slightly increased risk of End Stage Renal Disease, from 0.3% to 0.9%.

hoppy102889 karma

Any specific medicine you are currently on?

As a person currently at dialysis as i type, thank you

MrDannyOcean64 karma

I'm very lucky to be a healthy person overall - I went into surgery not taking any medications for anything. Right now I'm just on OTC pain medication.

MaveRickandMorty72 karma

Do you plan on trying to meet the recipient if they would like to meet you?

MrDannyOcean102 karma

I'm agnostic. I'm fine if it never happens, that wasn't the reason I donated. But if the recipient wants to get in touch, I'm also open to being in touch.

ButterYourOwnBagel65 karma

Are you concerned that someone in your family may need a kidney at some point and that you won't be able to help them now that yours is gone? I feel the biggest reason why I wouldn't donate mine (though I totally support why you did it) is because I'd be scared someone close to me would need one and I wouldn't be able to help.

MrDannyOcean124 karma

from earlier:

In fact, I was part of an additional program which allows a family member to get a voucher for a kidney as well. Basically one downside is 'what if your wife or brother ends up needing your kidney'. To help alleviate that concern, if my family member does need one, they ALSO get to jump to the top of the list.

I think this is becoming a standard part of being a non-directed donor these days, if you donate through the National Kidney Registry.

hkjnc59 karma

What did you wish you knew before you donated?

MrDannyOcean135 karma

I kind of knew intellectually that the first couple of days would really suck, but they still hit me like a brick wall. The biggest pain is not actually from the missing organ or the hole they cut in your stomach, but from the gas.

Kidney surgery is done laproscopically, which means they make a very small incision, pump your stomach cavity full of gas to make it easy to operate in, and then pull the kidney out the small hole. The gas sticks around after the surgery is done, and it's pretty painful at first while the gas is dispersing. That's way worse than the actual incision.

recruit0053 karma

So basically you had some pretty wicked farts?

MrDannyOcean182 karma

Literally, the nurses were coming by every couple hours and asking if I had passed gas yet. It was a benchmark they were waiting for. You're supposed to be farting regularly for several days to help disperse the gas. Modern medicine at work baby.

The_Bald39 karma

Any farts end up being longer or more intense than usual?

MrDannyOcean91 karma

weirdly they didn't smell. I think it was just pure CO2 gas or something?

trynakick22 karma

This is confusing to me. Farts come out of a closed system that goes from mouth to anus. They weren’t inflating your intestines, and any holes in the barrier between GI tract and rest of body are deadly. How are you farting the gas out?

MrDannyOcean24 karma

I had the same question tbh, but that's what the doc told me. I guess it gets absorbed at some point? I've definitely been super farty the last 5 days.

justkissitbunny55 karma

Why ? Don’t you think you might need it

MrDannyOcean100 karma

Nope! Kidney donors have near-identical health outcomes as non-kidney donors, and live equally healthy lives.

iamemanresu48 karma

Piggybacking because it's related to something I've always kind of wondered...

If you donate a kidney and later in life your remaining kidney is failing do you get bumped up the list or something?

MrDannyOcean87 karma

Yes, which is very nice. If I do end up needing a kidney, I start at the top of the list.

BruceInc29 karma

That is something I didn’t know, and I feel like it should be “advertised” more, because for me that question is the biggest setback that would keep me from donating

MrDannyOcean106 karma

In fact, I was part of an additional program which allows a family member to get a voucher for a kidney as well. Basically one downside is 'what if your wife or brother ends up needing your kidney'. To help alleviate that concern, if my family member does need one, they ALSO get to jump to the top of the list.

justkissitbunny7 karma

Why do it though?

MrDannyOcean66 karma

It seemed like the right thing to do. Most of us have two healthy, functional kidneys and can do just fine with only one. But there are hundreds of thousands of people basically waiting to die on the kidney waitlist because their kidneys don't work.

It's like floating in the ocean with two life vests, and seeing someone without any life vests struggling to swim. I thought I could toss them one of my life vests - it costs me very little and saves their life.

Brooksie6035 karma

Good on you. There have been less than 200 altruistic kidney donations in the US. I donated mine last year and I was the 26th altruistic in Australia. I'm 56, in good health and very lucky - so why not?

MrDannyOcean11 karma

thanks so much for donating!

mountainJs34 karma

Lots of folks asked really great questions but here's an interesting one.

Some people say transplant recipients sometimes inherit a trait from the donor...for example having a sudden taste for spicy food they didn't before. If the recipient got something from you what would it be?

As someone who has received a kidney transplant and is waiting on the list for a second, a big thank you to you...you literally affected change in someone's life on such a deep level that i understand from personal experience it brings tears to my eyes, hope your recovery continues going well.

MrDannyOcean34 karma

thanks for the warm wishes! I don't know about weird traits. I'm a very adventurous eater and like almost anything, but I hate peanut butter. It's my one thing I can't do. Is that weird enough, lol?

zubatman432 karma

I’ve been curious about this—

If you want to donate an organ, do they need to find someone towards the top of the list who’s a match? Or do they take the organ and wait for someone? I guess if there’s 10’s of thousands waiting for a kidney, it is probably pretty easy to find someone who can use yours, but how exactly does that work? If you have a really obscure blood type or something and there’s no one on the list that can use it or they’re very far down, will they still take your kidney?

Giving blood is (maybe?) a little different because it’s easier to store and everyone needs blood, but can kidneys be stored or does it come out of you and go right into someone else immediately?

MrDannyOcean71 karma

Given the size of the kidney waitlist (nearly 100K people), if you want to donate they will 100% be able to find a match.

Living donor kidneys are good for 24-48 hours, from what I understand.

decentwriter30 karma

Hello! I’m a podcast person who exclusively covers organ transplants, especially living kidney donation. So glad you spoke to Al Roth, he’s a total fuckin badass. I’d loooooove to talk to you sometime about your experience if you’re down. Mainly what the challenges were and what was easier/harder than you expected?

MrDannyOcean24 karma

I'd love to talk. Al Roth is amazing, super down to earth for a guy who's done as much revolutionary stuff as he has.

The pain hit me hard the first day, even though I was well-prepared on an intellectual level. Another unexpected thing is how much we use our abdomen for everything. I can't laugh, cough, hiccup or sneeze without hurting myself right now.

TheMasterTORCH28 karma

Why did you decide to donate your kidney?

MrDannyOcean100 karma

from above:

It seemed like the right thing to do. Most of us have two healthy, functional kidneys and can do just fine with only one. But there are hundreds of thousands of people basically waiting to die on the kidney waitlist because their kidneys don't work.

It's like floating in the ocean with two life vests, and seeing someone without any life vests struggling to swim. I thought I could toss them one of my life vests - it costs me very little and saves their life.

yucatan369 karma

Do you know or will you ever know, the person who receives the kidney? It would be strange for me to give something away willing and have no clue if it even made it to the recipient or if they rejected it.

MrDannyOcean43 karma

It's up to them. If they reach out, I'm happy to get in touch. Otherwise i'm fine just being anonymous. The only things I know are that the kidney went to Johns Hopkins, that it was a 'young person' and that the recipient surgery was initially successful.

thawkzzz27 karma

Do you have a higher chance of UTI’s or anything?

MrDannyOcean30 karma

That's an interesting question - not that I'm aware of. I've read lots of research and never seen that listed as a risk factor.

GameDesignerMan25 karma

Since I haven't seen it asked, how many "I'd give my left kidney for..." jokes have you made since the operation?

MrDannyOcean37 karma

dammit i have been missing the opportunity to tell dad jokes like that

sodakanne22 karma

Did your insurance cover any of your testing or procedure? How much did it cost you out of pocket?

MrDannyOcean55 karma

Direct out of pocket costs for me were zero. Medicare pays for all kidney donations in the US. This is because Medicare pays for all dialysis in the US, regardless of age, and dialysis is so incredibly expensive that donations save them a ton of money. They're very happy to pay for kidney donations for that reason.

I had some indirect travel costs to the hospital, but they weren't much.

sodakanne19 karma

Wow, that's incredible! I never would have guessed. I am now significantly more likely to donate like you did! Thanks for spreading the word!

MrDannyOcean19 karma

If you're interested, check out the WaitListZero link in my OP. They were some of the first people I contacted, and they had a previous donor call me personally to talk about the whole thing. They're fantastic. Or send me a DM, I'd be happy to answer any questions.

Dillman92622 karma

My sister has kidney issues and is close to going on dialysis. She may need a transplant at some point, and I was contemplating being a donor (if I am a match).

So I guess my question would be, what advice or knowledge what you briefly give if you knew someone was going to be a donor tomorrow?

MrDannyOcean51 karma

One thing for you to consider is 'pre-donating'. If you donate altruistically, you can designate a family member as getting a voucher that jumps them to the top of the wait list. I described it earlier as

In fact, I was part of an additional program which allows a family member to get a voucher for a kidney as well. Basically one downside is 'what if your wife or brother ends up needing your kidney'. To help alleviate that concern, if my family member does need one, they ALSO get to jump to the top of the list.

So this is an option to help your sister ahead of time that you could consider. Give your kidney to someone else and jump her to the top of the waitlist, and you won't have to worry about whether you're a match or not. I'm describing this in very rough terms, of course - you should talk to your transplant coordination team to learn more about how exactly it works.

samueldp20 karma

How common/rare are spontaneous kidney donors like yourself, Jeremiah? What was the reaction when you offered up your kidney?

MrDannyOcean33 karma

There's only a couple hundred per year.

bfelification12 karma

My wife will be donating to her father next week. So much of this is my life right now (appointments and tests). What is the thing you most needed for support post op? How can I help her recovery?

MrDannyOcean17 karma

The most significant pain is going to be from the gas. They bloat her abdominal cavity with gas to make it easy to operate inside, and then it takes a while for that gas to go away. That and the tiredness are the two biggest things.

If you can take off work or work from home the week after surgery, that's best. My wife works from home and was a godsend. I've been super tired all week and it's a chore to just get off the couch sometimes, no joke. Having someone to grab things for you or help you get comfortable is really important.

bigfatpup10 karma

What effects are there regarding things like taking paracetamol or drinking alcohol? If there even are any?

MrDannyOcean38 karma

http://www.lkdn.org/kidneykampaign/Myths_About_Living_Kidney_Donation.pdf

The only drugs I've been warned away from are ibuprofen and cocaine. Easy enough to switch from ibuprofen to aspirin or acetaminophen, and I never did coke to begin with. Alcohol is totally fine.

imagine_amusing_name19 karma

You were warned away from coke. What about pepsi? :)

MrDannyOcean52 karma

I'm from the South, we just call it 'coke' here.

AfrikaanoBinJewin10 karma

I’ve got two healthy kidneys and I only need one.

It would be a good thing to do right?

Q: would I or my family go straight to the top of a list we ever needed a kidney? That’s really the only reason I’ve kept mine.

MrDannyOcean10 karma

I think it's a wonderful thing to do. And yes, if you donate through the National Kidney Registry, you and your family get priority if you end up needing one.

tacey-us9 karma

Fascinating thread - thanks for doing this AMA! I saw your responses about why do this, but could you talk about what made you think of it? Something started this thought for you, to lead you specifically to kidney donation. Dream? Article in the news? Billboard ad?

MrDannyOcean23 karma

Great question. The first thing was reading Alvin Roth's book Who Gets What and Why - he's an economist who helped design the kidney matching program and algorithm. I thought 'hmmm this is something more people should do' and then forgot about it.

Then I read Dylan Matthew's piece (linked in my OP) where he talks about his experience doing this, and I started thinking maybe I should do this. After that I thought about it for a while, and the final thing that pushed me to make the call was watching videos of people on youtube talking about their kidney transplant and seeing the emotional impact of it.

grumpyfrench9 karma

Just why? Nice of you but I don't understand your sacrifice for a stranger. You can die if you have any kidney problem. I mean there are other ways to help humanity. Saving or educating poor kids without removing an organ and just use money or time

MrDannyOcean7 karma

from earlier:

It seemed like the right thing to do. Most of us have two healthy, functional kidneys and can do just fine with only one. But there are hundreds of thousands of people basically waiting to die on the kidney waitlist because their kidneys don't work.

It's like floating in the ocean with two life vests, and seeing someone without any life vests struggling to swim. I thought I could toss them one of my life vests - it costs me very little and saves their life.

brova3 karma

What games are you playing?

MrDannyOcean11 karma

I started Zelda BOTW yesterday!

Fredasa3 karma

Speaking as someone who lost one to you-know-what, what is the contingency plan for cases where you discover you need to have your only remaining kidney removed?

MrDannyOcean3 karma

if I need a kidney in the future, I start at the top of the waitlist thanks to my donation.

monsteez3 karma

1.) Since kidney disease is pretty common and you're young now, what happens if later in your life you yourself get kidney failure and require a new kidney? You don't get to skip ahead in line, right?

2.) Hope does this effect your health insurance?

MrDannyOcean3 karma

I do get to skip ahead in line! The odds of me developing kidney disease are still very low (around 1%), but if it happens I go to the top of the list.

robinnumbuh53 karma

You said you didn't have to pay any medical bills, but were you compensated for missed time from work?

MrDannyOcean11 karma

Luckily my work has a paid short-term leave policy, so I am not missing any paychecks to do this.

Starting later this year, the federal government will reimburse all lost wages, travel expenses and child care costs for living donors. So hopefully this isn't a concern for anyone again.

inbigtreble303 karma

My husband will soon be donating a kidney to s friend, and I am more nervous than he is. What was the most unexpected part of your recovery?

MrDannyOcean9 karma

It was unexpected how much we need our abdomens to do freaking anything. I can't cough, hiccup, sneeze or laugh without hurting this week.

sudo-apt-get-pizza3 karma

Does you risk of kidney stones go down?

Can you specify a general direction you'd like the kidney to go to? Like you aren't choosing a recipient, but can you say you'd like it to go to a child?

MrDannyOcean7 karma

I don't know about kidney stones. As an altruistic donor, I don't really get a say about where it goes - they have an algorithm and a prioritized waitlist to determine who's at the front of the line.

FakeFlipFlops2 karma

Doing this for a complete stranger, why? Like I get it to be kind and all but I can't wrap my head around why people do it for complete strangers especially on a scale as large as giving a kidney.

MrDannyOcean8 karma

from earlier:

It seemed like the right thing to do. Most of us have two healthy, functional kidneys and can do just fine with only one. But there are hundreds of thousands of people basically waiting to die on the kidney waitlist because their kidneys don't work.

It's like floating in the ocean with two life vests, and seeing someone without any life vests struggling to swim. I thought I could toss them one of my life vests - it costs me very little and saves their life.

Tonythetoiletbuddy2 karma

Donating a kidney, despite not knowing anyone who needed one.

Isn't this kind of a "screw you" to blood relations who may need to turn to you in the future?

MrDannyOcean6 karma

In fact, I was part of an additional program which allows a family member to get a voucher for a kidney as well. Basically one downside is 'what if your wife or brother ends up needing your kidney'. To help alleviate that concern, if my family member does need one, they ALSO get to jump to the top of the list.

from above

ChrizTaylor2 karma

Can i take the other one?

MrDannyOcean2 karma

no 🙄

nibs1231 karma

Do you know what caused the recipient's kidneys to fail? Or did you just give it totally anonymous?

MrDannyOcean2 karma

I have no idea who got my kidney other than 'someone at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore'.

MookieT1 karma

How many people have told you you're a goddamn hero? Good to know people like you still exist! Hope for all the best for you and a healthy life moving forward.

MrDannyOcean3 karma

it's weird getting told this all the time, tbh. I feel like a relatively normal person still.

PseudonymousDev1 karma

How long does it take to donate a kidney, from decision to recovery? Or, to put it another way, if I decided today I wanted to donate a kidney, how soon could it be done?

MrDannyOcean3 karma

In some emergency cases (like your brother needs one in the next week or he'll die) it can be ultra-rushed and done in like a week or two.

More common is a few months, because most people aren't rushing. They take their time to think about it, go through all the checks and medical exams, etc.

solarplexus71 karma

How does insurance factor into this? I’m sure many may want to donate but just can’t take on the costs.

MrDannyOcean2 karma

zero out of pocket costs at all. 100% covered by Medicare.

kerbeylanepancakes1 karma

Now that’s you are dependent on 1 kidney, will you be tired or lethargic most days?

I’m imagining like most dialysis patients, they’re usually tired. Pretty awesome, very kind. You’re brave and most likely saved a life.

Edit- I read the article and found answers to my other questions.

MrDannyOcean4 karma

I am very tired/lethargic right now, while my body gets used to operating with one kidney. That's supposed to last for a couple weeks until I return to normal.

I had higher-than-normal kidney function pre surgery, and I'm expected to lose about 20% of that function. My remaining kidney will increase its functioning, so that I'm not losing 50% of the function. Losing 20% will still leave me with normal levels of kidney function in the long run.

kbkoob31 karma

How would you feel if you get the news that the person that you gave your kidney to is having acute renal failure. Or if they told you your kidney has been rejected from the patient's body? You have done a great job thank you.

MrDannyOcean4 karma

It would suck, but I'd still be glad I did it. I knew the odds of rejection going in and was ok with them (more than 90% of kidney donations work great)

posting_from_moscow-10 karma

You just took several years off your life for a stranger. Why would you do that?

MrDannyOcean10 karma

Kidney donation actually doesn't take years off your life. There are some increased risks, but they're pretty small. For instance, the chance I develop End Stage Renal Disease increases from about 0.3% to about 0.9% - so the risk is tripled, but still happening less than 1% of the time. Other than that, there really aren't very many long term impacts.

posting_from_moscow-10 karma

Say goodbye to drinking alcohol for the rest of your life. Let's hope you don't require any drugs later in life. How do your wife and kids feel about this?

MrDannyOcean12 karma

Kidney donors can drink alcohol like anyone else.

http://www.lkdn.org/kidneykampaign/Myths_About_Living_Kidney_Donation.pdf

See 'Myth #7'. The only drugs I've been warned about are ibuprofen and cocaine, weirdly enough. There really aren't many major impacts at all from donating other than the suckiness of having a fairly major abdominal surgery.

MrDannyOcean5 karma

Your links seem to support the idea that the risks are low. I can provide several additional, more recent studies than the ones you posted if you're interested. I researched this topic thoroughly before making the decision to go ahead.

posting_from_moscow-5 karma

Look at it again. There's a sparseness of data for long term studies. I just feel bad for your family for slowly killing yourself like this.

MrDannyOcean4 karma

I just feel bad for your family for slowly killing yourself like this.

That seems dramatic, given that you haven't actually presented any evidence that anything bad will happen, only a concern about not having enough data.

The best review of the data is this 2018 literature review of 52 studies - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29379948. They basically find that risk factors are increased in a few areas, but not hugely so. They haven't seen how donors are doing 40 years into the future, but given that 20 years into the future looks ok, I'm willing to take that small risk.