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Author Topic: Canadian kidney donor and recipient sibling living in US  (Read 907 times)

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Offline MJS

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Canadian kidney donor and recipient sibling living in US
« on: November 04, 2017, 01:40:11 PM »
Hi,
I am new to this forum and this is my first post.
My brother has failing kidneys. He is a Canadian, married to a US citizen, and they now live in the US. His kidneys began failing when he was living up here in Canada about two years ago. I offered at that time to donate one of my kidneys. My brother was in between jobs in the tech sector at the time and was looking for work and so didn't want to go through surgery at that time. He didn't put his name in the Canadian kidney registry, so I still have not even been tested to see if I am eligible (my brother has his priorities screwed up, as far as I'm concerned, but that is a whole other matter).
He got a job in the US and moved there a year and a half ago and his kidneys stabilized for a time. Now his kidneys aren't doing so well and to make matters worse, he is longer working for the tech company with their Cadillac HMO, but is now self-employed with a slightly less than Cadillac insurer.
I am kind of pissed at him for not getting the donation up here where at least we would have both been under our public insurance. I have no idea what I would be covered for if I were to go down to the US to give him my kidney. As far as I know, our public system would not cover much, if anything, to donate in the US and I cannot get private travel insurance to cover voluntarily surgery. I am really stressed out, because he needs my kidney, but I am in my 50s and I have just gone through major back surgery and I don't want to go bankrupt before I retire. My wife is dead against me going down there to donate. I understand her frustration at my brother for not dealing with this two years ago and her fear that we will be stuck with a massive hospital bill, but this is my brother.
I'm not writing this to ask people here what I should do, but just if people have heard of similar situations. It is really hard to find out what US insurers will cover for foreign kidney donors coming into the US. It's also complicated by the fact that, while my brother has a green card, he is not a US citizen. Any information would be really helpful.
Cheers,
MJS

Offline Fr Pat

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Re: Canadian kidney donor and recipient sibling living in US
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 07:09:34 PM »
Hi. First of all, you might want to post your question also at the FaceBook page of Living Donors on Line, as there are many more donors who check in regularly there, including some from Canada.
     From what I have read about the experiences of others I would DEFINITELY urge you to insist that if he wants the kidney he should return to Canada. Your medical and financial situation in the U.S. would be terrible, especially if you turned out to be among the donors who have complications (sometimes long-term) from the kidney donation. I think it is wonderful that you want to donate, but donating in Canada (in my opinion) would be MUCH safer for you.
      FR. Pat (donor 2002)

Offline Qsrasra

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Re: Canadian kidney donor and recipient sibling living in US
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2018, 08:35:48 PM »
Doing this through your brother's insurance would be difficult (in the US, the medical costs are on the organ recipient), and it sounds like the rest of the costs (travel, time off, ...) would be on you.
Being an organ recipient is a huge, life-long management commitment. The driving force behind this needs to come from your brother, and it sounds like the most responsible and viable solution is for him to return to Canada for the transplant.  He is SO very lucky to have a willing donor.  You can lead a horse to water...  From the highlights you shared, I agree with your wife.

Offline willow123

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Re: Canadian kidney donor and recipient sibling living in US
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2018, 02:56:05 PM »
I know this post has been languishing, but I wanted to reply in case anyone checks it out in the future.

We have a family member who has been on dialysis for a couple of years in Canada and wants to return to the U.S. to try to get a transplant here.  The hospital she went to had a well-regarded transplant center, but she was impossible to match.  Some of the major hospitals in Canada have huge living donor programs, and they run matches twice a year.  (My husband was going to be her donor and he routinely matched with over a hundred people at a time while she matched with no one).  So no matches despite years of trying and they set her up with a home dialysis unit.  They will not try any of the experimental treatments being done in the U.S., such as plasmapheresis.  She has been on dialysis for a couple of years and suffers from side effects from it.  She is frustrated and wants to come back and try for a transplant here.  She is convinced that the national health system there has no incentive to do anything more.

We have other family members who needed transplants here in the U.S.  The insurance company will pay for all the costs of the donor--it really should not matter if the donor is Canadian.  Medicare will cover the cost of the transplant for those who do not have insurance.  I don't know how this applies to green card holders.  However, in the U.S., although they have national lists, it seems that the big transplant centers have their own lists and there is less incentive to share names.  It is less well integrated and it seems one needs a strategy.

All of the hospitals that do transplants have teams of social workers and other experts who will help figure out how to get the procedure paid for.

I am replying to this because I question whether it is a "no-brainer" to go back to Canada to have the procedure.  Also, transplant centers won't even start considering a patient for a transplant until their kidney function falls below a certain threshold.  That is true here as well.  You mention your brother's kidneys aren't doing so well, but it might take a while before they are doing badly enough to warrant a transplant.  You can't assume that he could move back to Canada, have the procedure done and be back in the U.S. in six months.  These things can drag on for years.


 

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