Calling For Living Kidney Donors
Our HeartBrother Needs Your Help
Dennis Kaminski is currently at Massachusetts General Hospital, on bivads, waiting for a combined-heart-kidney transplant. He has already surpassed survival expectations and the worry now is how much time he has left. If he is able to get a heart transplant first, and then have a live kidney transplant donor ready to go, he will have a much better chance for survival.
His wife Eileen has drafted the following heartfelt letter as she pleads for help to save her husband’s life.
Dennis, my husband, suffered a major heart attack on November 22, 2017. He was immediately transported from Worcester to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he has remained since that dreadful day. The doctors and nurses caring for Dennis were unsure he would ever survive and for almost 30 days, my family waited and prayed for him to come back to us. Miraculously, on Christmas Day, we received a miracle. Dennis slowly found his way back to consciousness.
Given the insult from his heart attack, Dennis suffered irreversible damage to both his heart and his kidneys and for almost 4 months, Dennis has remained on life support with a heart pump called a BI-VAD which is completely supporting his heart. For his kidneys, he relies on dialysis several times a week. Without these machines, he will not survive and with the pumps he is unable to leave the hospital.
Dennis’ only solution is a heart and kidney transplant and he has been on the transplant list for almost two months. However, given the need for a combined organ transplant, he is facing longer wait times on the waiting list. Though Dennis has surpassed all his physician’s expectations for survival and has fought hard and with determination over the past four months to regain the physical and mental strength he needs to endure the surgeries and recovery, his team fears that they will not be able to find Dennis a heart and kidney in time.
Dennis’ medical team knows that the heart transplant waiting lists are shorter than kidney transplant lists. Unfortunately, they are unable to give Dennis just a heart transplant as they know his failing kidneys will quickly damage his newly transplanted heart. Additionally, he will remain on dialysis several times per week and will be placed on the kidney transplant list with 100,000+ other people waiting for a deceased donor kidney. He could be on the list for several years. They do not think Dennis will survive long enough after his heart transplant to get his kidney.
Fortunately, there is another option for Dennis and that is to receive a kidney from a living donor. Asking a family member or friend to consider donating a kidney is difficult, but it would greatly improve Dennis’ chances of getting a transplant. A living kidney donation typically lasts longer and has better functionality. Additionally, Dennis would benefit greatly from having a kidney donor ready to go after he becomes stable following his heart transplant and it could be done in a window of time where Dennis’ new heart would not suffer any damage.
You might not know a lot about living donation – I know I didn’t before Dennis’ needs became apparent. Many people may be afraid of the surgery and what living with one kidney will mean for them, I understand this.
Here are some important facts about information about living kidney donation:
- You only need one kidney to live a healthy, long life
- Most donor surgery is done laparoscopically, through tiny incisions in the abdomen.
- The recuperation period is usually quick, generally two weeks.
- The cost of your evaluation and surgery will be covered by Dennis’ insurance. The hospital can provide extensive information on this.
- You will have a separate team of healthcare professionals to evaluate you as a living donor. Their job is to help you understand the risks and benefits and look out for your best interests.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. If donating a kidney to Dennis is something you would like to consider please consider going to www.mghlivingdonors.org. There you will be directed to a page where you will be asked to give your basic information about yourself and who the recipient will be. My husband, the recipient, is named Dennis Kaminski.
For those of you who read this, but do not know Dennis personally:
Dennis is the most wonderful man. He is the love of my life and we have been happily married for almost 38 years. Dennis is only 59 and the father of our two children Jessica and Joe who are his world. He is a loving brother to five siblings and the favorite uncle to all his nieces and nephews. Dennis is a very caring and generous person who do most anything for anyone else. He is loved by many.
Please help by sharing our story with everyone you know. At the very least we can bring awareness to the importance of organ donation and encourage you to consider helping the many people on the wait list.
You can also learn more about living donation on the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) website or by contacting the NKF’s free, confidential helpline at 855.NKF.CARES (855.653.2273) or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to someone who’s already donated a kidney, NKF can also help. MGH’s Living Transplant Program can be reached at 617-643-7193.
All of the love in my heart,
We are with you, Dennis and Eileen!