by Risa Simon, NKF Advocate, Peer Mentor, and Inspirational Author
COVID-19 is forcing transplant centers to cancel live kidney donor transplants and put "donor testing" on hold. Hopeful recipients are emotionally struggling with this disruptive and unpredictable standstill. Their thought bubbles sound like:
"Will my donor change their mind?"
"Will my GFR hold?"
"Will I be forced on dialysis or be taken off the list as I get sicker?"
While these concerns are realistic deal-breakers, an intentional shift in perspective could reveal a brighter blessing in disguise. Why do I say this? Because putting life’s plans on hold presents an expanded window of opportunity to refine and strengthen your goals.
A matter of choice
You can choose to sit frozen in fear or you can shift perceptions of what’s beyond your control to your advantage. While you might find the process a bit difficult at first, the more you see this pause as a good cause to "plan forward," the easier it will become. For example, you can use this pause to attract back-up donors, fine tune logistics, and ensure surgical success (and recovery) for both the donor and the recipient.
You can also use this pause to encourage friends and family to spread your story in social media and invite potential donors to video conference with other donors. Likewise, potential donors can use this pause to chat with their doctors, request ABO blood types and commit to new health goals through patient portals or tele-medicine platforms. They can also use this pause to explore “paired exchange” and proactively contemplate incompatibility workarounds.
Above all, potential donors can use this pause to educate friends and family, minimize their concerns, and offer them more “soaking time” when seeking their blessing.
And, it doesn’t end there.
Most kidney patients can benefit from a shelter at home pause. For example, CKD patients can use this pause to slow the progression of their disease by choosing healthier home-prepared meals, ramping up their exercise routines, and by minimizing stressors that exacerbate blood pressure spikes.
Transplant recipients can use this pause to be extra diligent about protecting their “adopted kidneys” through immunosuppressive compliance and by keeping themselves out of harm’s way. Living kidney donors must also become more mindful of their own safety. They need this reminder because their nature is to give. Their recipients are now pleading that they pause to put their oxygen mask on first.
Acting with intention
In times like this, when we feel so incredibly vulnerable and powerless, we must “lean in” and virtually unite to inject positivity and hope back into the world.
Never lose sight of the fact that you are always in control of good intentions. The good news about good intentions, is that they can spread exponentially from 6-plus feet away. Use social distancing to your benefit through visualization, meditation and by filling your gratitude journals with “seeds of connected goodness.”
When we collectively choose to embrace the seeds of goodness in our hearts—and send those nutrients up to feed the silver lining inside COVID's dark cloud, a bridge to a better tomorrow will be ours for the taking.
Your thoughts and intentions matter. Use them wisely.