Poked and Prodded | Annual Transplant Clinic Testing

Yesterday, I was poked and prodded like an animal in a makeup testing lab. Needles shoved into my arm, blood taken for analysis, batteries of tests performed, radioactive material injected into my blood stream. And what for?

So they can someday give me the internal organ of a dead person.

Every year, I have to undergo a series of testing to ensure that I am still a fit candidate to receive a kidney transplant from Legacy Good Samaritan hospital in Portland, Oregon. They are mostly heart tests, as heart disease is the number one reason for death in kidney patients, and I am happy to report that every test (so far) has shown that my heart is healthy and strong.

The first test of the morning was one that I recieved down in Los Angeles, a nuclear medicine test on my heart. This is where they injected me with a tagging solution of slightly radioactive material (unfortunately not enough to give me super powers) that allows them to take 3D images of my heart. I was then administered a chemical stress test. A chemical was injected to stimulate my heart. It was super trippy (a medical term) to feel like I had just exercised while I was just sitting down. After, they repeated the heart pictures to make sure there were not arteries that were closing up.

To prepare for the test, I had to refrain from caffeine for 24 hours and fast for 8 hours before the test. I normally drink decaf coffee, but I wasn’t allowed to have that. I wasn’t even allowed to have any chocolate! I had to dump out my muesli the morning before, because I had forgotten and added cacao nibs (it’s delicious, you should try it).

When I was first being worked up for the transplant list up at Legacy, they also did an angiogram of my heart. I was a little scared of this for a couple of reason. First, I had a stroke two years before, and at that time the neurologists were worried about performing an angiogram because it could knock off more plaque causing another stroke, which would have sucked! Second, the contrast dye used in the angiogram is detrimental to the kidneys and could have dropped my kidney function even lower.

But after talking to the cardiologist who was to perform the procedure, he assured me that they use as little of the dye as possible, and that they would not be going near my carotid arteries, which is where my stroke came from. Whew! All went well, and they haven’t had to do another angiogram since.

They also always do the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • EKG
  • Ultrasound of my kidneys
  • Blood work

I then always meet with the kidney team to discuss insurance, am I sane, do I have any live donors, etc…

By the way, if you are interested in being a live donor, please go to the following link: https://www.legacyhealth.org/transplant

Even if you are not interested in being a living donor, I urge you to register as an organ donor. https://www.organdonor.gov/

Help me to get a third kidney!

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