Death is all around us. Sometimes it hits us in the face.
In March, my dog Pugsy died. Less than a week ago, my dog Elvis died. Elvis was originally my mom's dog that I inherited when she died from pancreatic cancer five years ago next month. Tomorrow is the six-year anniversary of my dad passing. Next week is the anniversary of the death of my boyfriend's mom.
To top it off, Monday, the man beside me at dialysis died during treatment. I have known him for a while, even though I don't know his name. Some called him "Slim". We exchanged pleasantries for the most part.
Monday, he arrived in a wheelchair, instead of his usual walker. His beautiful smile and hello were replaced with a blank stare. I noticed his super-skinny leg sticking out of his pant leg. The normally spry fellow seemed frail.
About an hour into treatment, there was a great commotion next to me. Chest compressions. Defibrillator attempts. Emergency personnel. It all happened so quickly. He was out the door on a stretcher in a manner of minutes.
Death tends to be an uncomfortable subject. It conjures up feelings of grief. It makes us face our own mortality. We all know death is coming for everything and everyone. Dogs die. Parents die. The commonality of it doesn't make it any less difficult.
Those of us on dialysis are cheating death. For whatever reason, our kidneys turned against us. In another time or place, that would have meant death. Through every treatment, we steal another day. Eventually, cheaters get caught. But until then, I'll keep cheating three days a week.
- There are currently 121,678 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S. Of these, 100,791 await kidney transplants. (as of 1/11/16) 1
- The median wait time for an individual’s first kidney transplant is 3.6 years and can vary depending on health, compatibility and availability of organs.2
- In 2014, 17,107 kidney transplants took place in the US. Of these, 11,570 came from deceased donors and 5,537 came from living donors.1
- Over 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month.1
- 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant.1
- Every 14 minutes someone is added to the kidney transplant list. 1
- In 2014, 4,761 patients died while waiting for a kidney transplant. Another, 3,668 people became too sick to receive a kidney transplant.1
Facts and statistics provided by the United States Renal Data System, UNOS, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) Annual Report.
These statistics do not take into account the number of dialysis patients, like me, who do not qualify to get a transplant. According to the US Dept of Health and Human Services, at the end of 2009, 398,861 ESRD patients were being treated with some form of dialysis. So, only about a fourth of people on dialysis are eligible for transplant.