DEAR ABBY: I'm currently waiting to donate my kidney to my sister, who is a year older than I am. My husband and I traveled many hours to get evaluated and tested at her clinic, so the insurance would cover the cost.
Before heading back to our home state, we decided to stop by to pay her a surprise visit and, honestly, she did something that's making me rethink my decision. She was eating pizza and drinking a can of soda. Abby, my sister is on dialysis and supposed to be following a strict diet. It upset my husband, but he didn't say anything to her because we had just had an argument in the car about my decision to donate to her. It upset me, too, but I didn't speak up either.
I have been disciplined all my adult life, living a healthy life and making smart choices to benefit my body. Now that my sister needs a kidney, I feel this may have been the reason for my good habits. How can I stress to her how important it is to me that she adopt better eating habits if she is to get my kidney? I don't have another one to donate if she ruins this one. My husband and I will also be sacrificing time away from our four kids (ages 1-15) for the surgery and recovery. -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN TEXAS
DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: Your concerns are valid. Donating a kidney is a decision that needs to be well thought out. It is also a decision that is ultimately up to only you. It shouldn't be made because you feel pressure based on who you're donating to, in your case, your sister. Keep in mind, it's impossible to control another person's behavior. Once this precious gift is given, there's no going back. Speak up now and let her know how you felt about what you saw, but understand it won't necessarily guarantee that she will make any changes.
My suggestion is to continue this conversation with your living donor social worker or ILDA (independent living donor advocate) at the transplant center where you were evaluated. These professionals can help to guide you toward making the best decision by further exploring your concerns, not only for you, but also your family.
While being a living kidney donor can be a positive and beautiful experience, it is equally important to make sure that it's the right decision for you. The same is true for anyone considering donating. For those who are interested in being a potential kidney donor and would like to confidentially connect with someone who has already donated, contact the Patient Information Help Line of the National Kidney Foundation ((855) 653-2273). However: This is NOT a substitute for speaking with a living donor social worker or ILDA.