FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Scott Schneider considers himself fortunate, as far as kidney failure goes. His only limitation: the port in his side for dialysis means he can’t swim and shouldn’t chance kayaking. He’s able to do overnight dialysis at home or while travelling, with a machine moving through four 90-minute, blood-cleansing cycles while he sleeps.
It’s still a lot for the Lawrence Technological University physics professor, whose kidneys began failing about five years ago due to hypertension. Sadness about being listed for a transplant with the Beaumont Multi-organ Transplant Center since March 2021, waiting for an organ to become available through a deceased donor, was creeping in – especially since the average wait for a match can be more than five years.
So, while on a vacation in the Adirondacks in upstate New York over the summer, he told his sister and mother that he wanted to put effort into finding a kidney donor.
“She (Deborah, his sister) took it and ran with it,” said Schneider, 59, who lives alone and enjoys rooting for his beloved LTU Blue Devils. “It’s really a family endeavor.”
They got creative – booking electronic billboards around metro Detroit and launching social media channels and a website. Scott even added a large sticker to the side of his vehicle.
And, now, they wait.
“People in kidney failure often wait years before a deceased donor kidney becomes available,” said Dr. Sarah Suliman, a transplant nephrologist – kidney doctor – at the Beaumont Transplant Center in Royal Oak. “Living donor transplants can be scheduled, and we confirm the health of both the kidney and the donor in advance. Because of that, living kidney donor transplants tend to work better and last longer than deceased donor transplants.”
The center is celebrating its 50th anniversary of performing transplants in 2022 and is a leader in southeast Michigan for both deceased and living donor transplants.
One myth is that a donor must have a matching blood type with the recipient. If the blood types do not match, the donor’s kidney can be matched with another waiting patient in a living donor kidney chain, also known as a kidney paired donation. Then, a kidney from a different willing donor with a matching blood type is directed to the original recipient.
Donors undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are healthy and can safely live their life with one kidney. The recovery time for the donor is often 8 to 10 weeks, and all medical expenses are covered. Beaumont’s transplant program offers the shortest time to transplant and best outcomes of all transplant programs in southeast Michigan.