UPDATE: Lamar Odom has been taken off dialysis and may no longer need a kidney transplant according to his doctors. But that still leaves 100,000 other patients in the U.S. desperately in need of a kidney transplant to save their lives. Read on to learn about kidney transplants, organ donation and how you might be able to save someone’s life.
As the old folks used to say, He did it to himself, speaking of former NBA star Lamar Odom who remains hospitalized in Cedars-Sinai Hospital where he was transferred after being found unconscious on October 13 in his room at the Love Ranch just outside Las Vegas. By all accounts, Odom is said to have spent $75,000 at the brothel for five days of drinking, drugging and enjoying intimate encounters with two women there. Odom’s excessive partying nearly cost him his life. For certain, it has irreparably damaged the health of this once athletically gifted LA Lakers forward. Doctors say Odom, who was put on daily kidney dialysis, has improved to the extent he may no longer need a kidney transplant. [UPDATED Oct 30]
He has wrecked his body, so it’ll take time to figure out how well he can come back. But everyone knows that he’ll never be the same as he was before this happened. There will always be lasting effects, and doctors are just trying to minimize them.—an unnamed source
According to the National Kidney Foundation, About 101,000 people in the U.S. are awaiting life-saving kidneys. Most of them have been on the kidney transplant waiting list for an average of 4 years or more for a suitable kidney to become available. Fewer than 17,000 kidney transplants were performed in 2014 due to the scarcity of suitable kidney donors.
Now that he no longer needs a kidney transplant, Odom may be one of the luckier ones. For those who aren’t rich or famous, and are less well-connected, the road to a new kidney via a transplant is much tougher, not to mention somewhat daunting, especially for minorities and the poor. A research study, conducted by University of Washington-Seattle professor Dr. Yoshio Hall, determined that “once wait-listed for a needed kidney, white patients were 40 percent more likely to receive a transplant than African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and others.”
It took longer for members of minority groups to get on the waiting list for a kidney, most likely “because of socioeconomic factors,” such as poverty and having no health insurance. To pay for treatment, a poor person in need of a transplant must get Medicaid or Medicare, which can take several months, Hall explained.
Racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. health care system are nothing new and thus, anyone, regardless of race or economic standing, who needs a kidney transplant should pursue all available means to get one. An important first step is choosing the right doctor (someone who is vested in providing you with the best care) to steer you through the long, complicated process of getting on the transplant waiting list.
Here are the necessary steps to get on the national waiting list:
- Your physician must give you a referral.
- Contact a transplant hospital. Learn as much as possible about the 200+ transplant hospitals in the United States and choose one based on your needs, including insurance, location, finances and support group availability.
- Schedule an appointment for an evaluation and find out if you are a good candidate for transplant.
- During the evaluation, ask questions to learn as much as possible about that hospital and its transplant team.
- If the hospital’s transplant team determines that you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list. (Source: Transplantliving.org)
Of course the biggest obstacle to kidney transplantation continues to be not having enough people willing to donate their organs to meet a growing need. There are many ways to do this. While a living donor is always best, a responsible party can give doctors permission to harvest the organs of a person at death; a living person can have organ donor designated on their driver’s license or in a Living Will, which will only take effect at death, If someone wishes to donate a kidney to a family member or friend, but find they aren’t a compatible match, the donor can participate in a paired kidney exchange which gives his kidney to someone who is compatible in exchange for a compatible kidney being found for his family member or friend.
While these innovative ways of improving and expanding the availability of kidneys and other vital organs is a hopeful sign for all those waiting for the new lease on life transplants give, nothing can take the place of doing all you can to take care of this wonderful gift of life and health that God has given us.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart. Don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go. He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God, run from evil. Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Proverbs 3:7-8 MSG