Top 5 Tips on Living Donation from Kidney Donor, Coach Tom Walter

Coach Walter and Kevin after surgery

Wake Forest University baseball coach, Tom Walter, broke with tradition this season. Like all other coaches, he wore the team uniform and sat among the players in the dugout. Unlike any other, he actually got in the game, stepping up to the plate in a most unusual way.

After learning that one of his players, freshman Kevin Jordan, was in desperate need of a kidney transplant, he offered up one of his own.

Coach Walter says he accompanied Jordan to the kidney specialist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center when he heard the news that Jordan's kidneys had failed. "I realized we had the same blood type and just off the cuff, I said I'd get tested. At the time, I didn't know much about the process of getting tested but once I got educated, I realized it wasn't as daunting as I had initially imagined," says Walter.

Four weeks post-transplant, Walter reports that his stitches are almost invisible. He's already been jogging on the treadmill and back at work full time for three weeks. "I took off for one week after the donation, but after that, I was at my desk full time and I'm feeling great. Actually, four hours post-surgery, I was taking phone calls and emailing on my Blackberry. Less than 48 hours after the donation, I had showered and dressed on my own and was fielding questions at a press conference," continues Walter.

To help cover the bases for others considering kidney donation, Coach Walter offers his Top 5 Tips:

1 Educate yourself about the process.
The surgery is much less invasive than it used to be, since kidneys are removed laparoscopically in most transplant centers today. As a result, the recovery time is generally much quicker.

2. You can opt out, if necessary.
Understand that at any time during the process if you decide that you cannot go ahead with the donation, it is possible to opt out. Your recipient will be told by the medical professionals that you are not a match. This way, you don't have to worry about letting the potential recipient down. Some people are scared to volunteer but knowing that it's possible to opt out at any time if necessary may make them more willing to begin the process.

3. Know that the doctors look out for the donor's health.
They absolutely will not let you donate unless they are confident that it won't affect your life or health adversely. Kidney donors are very healthy people. You won't get to the end of the donation process if there are any concerns about your health. Your team of doctors is dedicated to you and to ensuring that you're going to live a perfectly normal life post-donation. They are completely separate from the recipient's doctors.

4. Make sure to take care of yourself.
If you're thinking about donating, proper diet and exercise are essential. I was in great shape and I watched what I ate beforehand. I think that's one of the reasons I feel so good post-surgery.

5. Remember that this can be the most rewarding experience of your life.
The simple fact of restoring someone's health through your donation is an incredible opportunity. I am so glad I did it and know that this act will stay with me for the rest of my life.

For more information about living donation, visit www.livingdonors.org