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Los Angeles, California
I am 47 and thriving in Southern California. One day at a time.
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Saturday, January 8, 2011

the protocol of the transplant

is there ever an appropriate time to thank the nazis?

in spite of their occupation of the netherlands, dr. willem kolff, a dutch physician, was able to successfully treat a 67 year old woman, in 1945, who was in an uremic coma. after using his dialyzer on her for 11 hours, she lived another 7 years. she was the first successful dialysis patient.

so here's a half heil salute to dr.kolff who was able to create something so medically advanced under undoubtedly tense and terrifying conditions. BRAVO.

an interesting tidbit i thought i would share. although the insistently zen portion of my program would like to focus on the task at hand.
["long day's journey into kidney"]

i had a shit load of blood work done at the end of november. what we have now learned from those results is somewhat promising. because i have never gone off my immunosuppressives, i have accumulated very low antibodies. factors that could increase your antibodies would be blood transfusions (i've had 3), being pregnant (never been) and going off your immunosuppressives. all these factors can potentially increase your antibodies, and i would have a slimmer chance at accepting a new organ.

but, like i said. they are low. whew. a great first step.

kevin and i know our blood types should be compatible, so, over the next 7 days, the fine folk at cedars, will examine our vials, compare data and eventually calculate whether we are a negative crossmatch (yes!) or a positive cross match (no. no. no.)

and cedars-sinai is one of the few hospitals in the world that offers a program in antibody treatment. on or off dialysis. for me it would be a 6 hour iv treatment with rituxan. the treatment lowers antibodies and neutralizes their ability to attack the new kidney.

essentially, with CROSSMATCHING, they want to see if your cells fight...golly gee, does that make me want to laugh...

i can actually hear arguing between our cells. right now. loudly. in some test tube. in a darkened cedars-sinai laboratory...

["Oh, Kevin!...Sweetheart, just leave it there...what are you doing with that?...well, we can't afford that...Oh, Kevin!"]

in less than 2 weeks we will know if we are a match.

then there is stage 3: TISSUE MATCHING. this involves antigens. the best score you can get is 6 out of 6. and it goes downhill from 5 to 1. 6 out of 6 is the single best tissue match that can occur between any donor and recipient. but if your donor is a 4-4 with you, you still have a better chance at surviving than if it was from a cadaver. living donor is always best.

and that's what uberhubby is. my living donor.

[dr. cardella's words come back to haunt me]

"kidney disease is a life long issue..."

indeed, the most difficult and surreal issues swirl around me daily; theatening to tsunami our bubble of hope.

since returning from my glorious birthday week with friends in toronto, my health quickly spiraled out of control. and my energy level imploded.

i am sick. and with startling simplicity i finally understood; my kidney is nearly dead. i need a transplant.

[believe me, there's fodder for more than a few sleepless nights here.]

i am so tired of shuffling around this house; crashing in this bed all. day. long.

missing my independence, as i can no longer drive.

nauseous, dry heaving, barely able to eat...

no work possible. just my greatest of efforts to keep some semblance of calm, joy, and dare i say, happiness between me and my man and my hound.

i have missed out on so much LIFE over the last 2 years; it fairly breaks my heart. is it my life's path to have brief moments of happiness only to be drowned in the despair of illness and it's harness? hardly seems fair. it pains me to witness kevin's stress over our mounting bills, over my daily struggles, and the minor maladies he now suffers from.

we do try to take this one day at a time. and not worry about the years it will take us to catch up on medical bills.

truth is, we're terrified. waiting for that one call. those five powerful words...
"you are a great match".

it will be a great, hopeful moment, but we'll be guarded.

we will also be cautiously optimistic and strong.

because with so much at stake, it is impossible to be casual about the potential outcome. look, there are no guarantees...

in fact, if he isn't a match...well, if he isn't a match...sigh...i guess if he really isn't a match...

i suppose that 1945 dialyzer won't be transatlantic much longer...

it's now or dialysis. and that's the protocol of this transplant.


  1. We will all be waiting with you for that call and sending all of our hopes, wishes, prays!
    We love you,

  2. If he isn't a match, which he is, there's a line-up of us waiting to be tested. I'll be first. I love you, Henny. Your's and Kevin's cells are fighting for sure!

  3. Now! Now! Now! :) We are here for you Henny. If you need anything, you or Kevin, just let us know.

  4. I'm all ready to be tested, just let me know when :)