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Author Topic: Travel after donation?  (Read 9172 times)

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Offline mkew

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Travel after donation?
« on: September 03, 2012, 01:11:59 PM »
Hi, new to this board and hoping for some advice.

I live in Texas and I am considering donating to a friend in California. I am just about to submit the initial blood tests, so we have quite a ways to go.

The hospital in California told me that I will go there once for three days for the full battery of tests and MRI's and psychologicals etc. I will go again for the transplant itself, which is expected to involve one night in the hospital and ten days staying near the hospital for followup care and monitoring, before returning to Texas.

My first question is, would it be okay for me to fly home after the ten days, or would it be better to take a train? I can ask at the hospital but it's Labor Day and due to family issues I won't be able to contact the Transplant Coordinator with questions for a week or so. And I'm curious NOW! LOL

My second question is, my husband and I have four big trips schedule in 2013: A trip to NYC in late March, to Vegas for our anniversary in May, to upstate NY State for a music festival in July, and we've been planning a trip to Big Sur for my birthday in September. Plus, I have family in Washington State who I visit once or twice a year.

Do you think that the donation would interfere with these travel plans? The most strenuous thing we do on any of these trips is to walk A LOT, and in the case of the music festival, to dance A LOT. There is plenty of sitting around involved as well.

I'm thinking that either I should do the donation in December/January (although I don't want to deal with doctors' vacation schedules), or else wait until a year from now, after Big Sur.

To be brutally honest, donating a kidney in 2013 is not convenient for me! But obviously, that pales in comparison with the "inconvenience" that my recipient deals with every sick day of HER life. I also don't know how quickly she is deteriorating, and whether she can afford to wait until after the Big Sur trip. She is not currently on dialysis but has received a fistula.

I will certainly bring this all up with my transplant coordinator, but I was wondering if anyone else has any insight for me. Thanks very much! This board is just terrific.

MK

Offline sherri

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2012, 05:18:29 PM »
Hi MK,

Best of luck as you embark on the transplant journey. The best overall advice I can give you is to remember that you are having real surgery with real risks,  real anesthesia, sharp instruments etc. so treat it that way even though you are healthy. Interview your surgeon and hospital the same as if you would be having elective surgery. Get a second opinion, keep copies of all your records, make sure all your questions are answered etc.

To try and answer some specifics.

1. The hospital in California told me that I will go there once for three days for the full battery of tests and MRI's and psychologicals etc. I will go again for the transplant itself, which is expected to involve one night in the hospital and ten days staying near the hospital for followup care and monitoring, before returning to Texas.

The 3 days of tests will most likely include your CT/MRA psych tests and meeting with all the doctors. You will of course only get to that point if all the other blood tests and urinalysis, BP readings etc are adequate for you to become a donor. One night stay in the hospital sounds very short to me. Even when you have a vaginal birth you get to stay two nights! Donors differ but most stay at least 2 nights. Unfortunately, there are no set protocols for living donation surgery and each hospital sets their own rules. You may want to bring this up with the staff. I had surgery on Monday and left the hospital Friday morning, which is at the longer than average length of stay. Wanted to make sure everything was working (bowels and bladder) the same way as when I came in. I think a minimum of two nights is standard. If there are any complications like bleeding or infection you won't even see that with a stay of 24 - 36 hours. Staying near the hospital for 10 days sounds like a good idea. Most donors from out of state stay about a week. My recipient actually came to my city and had the surgery and then went home after 3 weeks. So donors don't always have to be the one to travel. The recipient, if they are well enough, and insurance doesn't care who they pay can come to Texas.


2.My first question is, would it be okay for me to fly home after the ten days, or would it be better to take a train? I can ask at the hospital but it's Labor Day and due to family issues I won't be able to contact the Transplant Coordinator with questions for a week or so. And I'm curious NOW! LOL

Personally,  I think you may be more comfortable on a flight.  It is much shorter than the train. You recipient is allowed to reimburse your travel expenses. I'm sure they are thrilled to be receiving your kidney so I hope they could help you with the expense of travel. You do have to walk around to make sure you don't get blood clots, just as you would with any surgery. Sitting for long periods of time is not recommended. The train would obviously take longer. With air travel there may be more assistance from staff like a wheel chair or golf cart for transport in the terminal. Either way I would travel with someone. Remember you will be sore from surgery and also there is no lifting more than 10 lbs post surgery for at least 6 - 8 weeks.

3. My second question is, my husband and I have four big trips schedule in 2013: A trip to NYC in late March, to Vegas for our anniversary in May, to upstate NY State for a music festival in July, and we've been planning a trip to Big Sur for my birthday in September. Plus, I have family in Washington State who I visit once or twice a year.

I had my surgery in November and went on a cruise in January. No problems travelling and I felt well enough. It was a relaxation vacation though, no walking or anything like that. Most donors say they feel ready for vigorous walking or exercise about 2 - 3 months post surgery. You will also need to take into account that you may have complications like hernia, bowel issues or more severe complication like bleeding. This of course will lengthen the recovery. I would make sure to buy travel insurance just in case. One thing that donors do complain about post surgery, which is consistent with most abdominal surgeries, is the soreness and the fatigue. You will never know how you will react until the actual surgery so it is wise to be flexible with plans.



4. To be brutally honest, donating a kidney in 2013 is not convenient for me! But obviously, that pales in comparison with the "inconvenience" that my recipient deals with every sick day of HER life. I also don't know how quickly she is deteriorating, and whether she can afford to wait until after the Big Sur trip. She is not currently on dialysis but has received a fistula.

To be brutally honest, do the surgery when it is convenient for you and the best time for you to have the most successful outcome. This is elective surgery. It is very hard for donors to make the best decisions for themselves because they always have the recipient's situation in their mind. Speak honestly with the coordinator and weigh the pros and cons.



All the best,

Sherri
Sherri
Living Kidney Donor 11/12/07

Offline audrey12

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2012, 07:32:56 PM »
Hi mkew, where in California?  I am in California and donated in Chicago in January 2008.  If you'd like to talk offline shoot me a message and I'll tell you how it went for me.  My story is on the site so you can look up some of it there also.
audrey

Offline Fr Pat

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2012, 01:58:49 AM »
     Every donor heals differently, so be cautious about travel plans that involve any non-refundable tickets. You really have to take it a day at a time and listen to your body. Nobody can guarantee you about exactly how YOU will feel after donation, so keep your plans flexible.
    best wishes,
   Fr. Pat

Offline lawphi

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2012, 06:50:06 PM »
This surgery is about you.  Different people recover at different speeds.  I flew home a week after surgery and had no issues. 
Bridge Paired Exchange donor on behalf of my husband (re-transplant) at Johns Hopkins.

Offline jstx

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2012, 09:37:20 PM »
I agree with Sherri. One night in the hospital doesn't sound right to me. Like Sherri, it took me a bit longer-I had surgery on Monday & was discharged Friday. I flew home Saturday. I was a bit nervous flying home so soon but was so ready to sleep in my own bed. I think you'd be fine to fly home 10 days later. I'd definitely say fly versus the train. So much faster! Clear your travel plans with your transplant team. Both my personal dr and my surgeon (I trusted both completely) told me I'd be fine flying home 6 days after surgery as long as I didn't have complications. Take a small pillow with you. It will keep the seatbelt off your tummy & you can press it on your abdomen gently if you sneeze or cough.

Good luck with the testing process! You've got a ways to go still so enjoy this time & do your research. Ask lots of questions & make sure you do what's best for you. I'm in Texas too (Dallas). Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help any way I can.

You're doing a wonderful thing!!
Donated left kidney on 6/6/11 to a recipient I found on LDO
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, MD

Offline mintx

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2012, 01:06:54 AM »
Hi,

Where are you in Texas?  I am in the process of testing to be in a donor chain for my mom.  tMy testing is starting in the Texas Medical Center and the transplant should ( hopefully will) happen at Henery Ford in Detroit.  PM me if you would like to email or talk to someone who may be local.

Offline donorninja

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Re: Travel after donation?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2012, 08:03:49 AM »
I am from Michigan and donated in Chicago in August. I was only in the hospital one night and stayed in Chicago for one week after the surgery for my seven day post op appointment.

I took the train home. It may have taken a little longer than flying but Amtrak was very accommodating in helping me and my wife and I found this to be a very comfortable way to travel following the surgery.

I know that recovery is different for everyone but from the sounds of your travel plans, with walking being the primary form of exertion, you should be fine. I do find myself getting fatigued much more frequently than prior to my donation but its nothing that a nap here or there doesn't help. I am running a half marathon this Sunday, 45 days post donation.

Wishing you and your recipient the best as you move forward.

 

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