The goal of every dialysis should be a transplantation. Transplantation means living a normal life. Well, almost normal. Seeing as I have lived through each and every phase of both dialysis and transplantation, I can safely say that a transplantation is the ultimate goal. Strength, and a normal sexual and physical life. Due to corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, the risk of disease is higher, but the freedom is limitless, as is the joy when you tinkle! Life is all about the little things, and when you’ve been through the agony of dialysis, that joy is immeasurable!

So, next to all the tests which I will talk about a bit later, the most important thing is being mentally ready and wanting a transplantation. The thing I’ve noticed with most dialysis patients is a senseless fear of a transplantation. The longer people stay on dialysis, the more they are afraid of a transplant. Just to be clear, the risk of rejection, and even death, is very real. But, isn’t the same true for dialysis? Every second you are at risk. But the quality of life gained is incomparable. In the twenty-four years during which my transplanted kidney functioned, I was very active, worked for the United Nations with migrants and refugees, climbed and entered volcanoes, paraglided, walked and cycled. I can say the quality of life I had lead, in the physical sense at least, was better than that of most healthy people.

Six years ago, due to a bite from a mosquito which was infected with the West Nile Virus, I was in a coma. I had encephalitis, inflammation of the brain. Not one of my doctors believed I would survive, and even if I did, whether or not I will remain unchanged (whatever this means, remains a question to this day). They were positive that the kidney would not survive. If I had passed on then, had never woken up, I wouldn’t have regretted it. I would have died happy. On the other hand, when I had woken up, hallucinating, no sense of balance, I had to learn to walk again, which was difficult for someone who puts on red lipstick and climbed onto high heels to get into a better mood (a policeman approached me and asked whether or not I was feeling alright, probably because I looked drunk to him). Nevertheless, I was up and about, working and wandering around, in two months’ time, aware that my freedom will end soon wanting to get the best out of what little time I had left. 

So / after this tangent, let’s get back to transplantation. If you don’t believe in transpnatation, if zou do not honestly believe that the transplantation will work, don’t even start with the preparations. Don’t listen to the stories of well-meaning people around you whose second cousin’s sister received a transplant and died. Rarely does one say “Oh wonderful, I know Marijana, she’s had fantastic life after transplantation for more than twenty years”. Not because there aren’t any stories like mine, but because the attitude of the people around here is always so negative. 

To prepare yourself for a transplantation, a doctor will give you a list of the required tests and scans you have to perform. Prepare for many an ultrasound and an assortment of more or less pleasant scans of the abdomen, heart, blood vessels, thyroid, and bladder. A lot of sitting around and a lot of hassle, but, one has to admit that the doctors and nurses administering these tests tend to be very friendly and helpful. Patience is key! Even if you don’t have a living donor, don’t lose hope! A cadaver, from a recently deceased person, can turn up, whose results match yours closely. Due to situations like these, you have to keep your phone by your side at all times, because you never know when you’ll get the call…

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