Giving Back: Kidney Transplant Recipient Offers Success Tips He Used To Connect With Living Donor




The average wait time for a Chronic Kidney Disease patient on the Kidney Transplant List is shockingly 1,825 days (43,800 hours) to 2,555 days (61,320 hours). Unfortunately, since 100,000 new patients are diagnosed with Kidney Failure every year, the wait times are increasing and many Chronic Kidney Disease patients are waiting much longer than the average time. What is worse is that in a recent year, 6,657 Kidney Transplant candidates died while on the waiting list, according to  the  Gift of Life Donor Program. However, Mark J. Smith beat the odds by effectively outreaching and sharing his story with altruistic (kind-hearted) generous Living Kidney Donors until he found his match. Mark's transplant surgery went perfectly and he was out of the hospital within days. Now, back home and walking a mile a day, Mark could take his Kidney Transplant and close this challenging chapter of his life. Instead, he has chosen to reach back to the Chronic Kidney Disease Community and share effective tips that successfully worked for him - which he wished he had been told during his search - to help other Chronic Kidney Disease patients who deeply desire a Kidney Transplant so that they may get off of Dialysis Treatments and/or get back to a more normal, preferred quality life. 

Recommended Reading: Man Explained Why He Chose To Donate His Kidney To A Complete Stranger With Chronic Kidney Disease

First, it is important to know that Mark is not much different than the typical 100,000+ patients who are currently on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List. He wanted to get a Kidney Transplant to (1) get back to work, (2) be here for his loved ones, (3) travel with his wife, and (4) just be more active in general. After waiting years on the list, about a year and a half ago Mark decided to begin his search for a live donor. Thankfully, within the year and a half period, Mark found his match! Here are some insights which Chronic Kidney Disease patients may find valuable:

1.) What were the methods you used to share your story?
Mark used several outlets including the Find A Kidney Donor Campaign (click here). He also was able to connect with local newspapers and radio stations as well as spoke with people directly about his need for a Kidney Transplant.

2.) Is a Kidney Transplant worth it?
In some cases, patients who get a Kidney Transplant live an average of 10 to 15 years longer than if they stayed on Dialysis, suggested Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Mark noted, "A Kidney Transplant, if you can, is the best way to go. Your day-to-day activities are limited and travel is not easy on Dialysis. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that I could do it [Dialysis] and it kept me alive."

3.) Did the Find A Kidney Donor Campaign with help? 
The Find A Kidney Donor Campaign is an effective, tailored social media push for patients actively looking to connect with altruistic (generous) Living Kidney Donors (click here). The program has helped hundreds of patients. Mark mentioned, " was instrumental in finding a kidney. My donor did see the page and the information on that site helped her make a decision - other venues were also used."

4.) How many people did you connect with before finding your match? 
The key is to keep going and continue to share your story through multiple channels to help improve your chances of connecting with a kind-hearted matching individual. Mark said, "I had a total of 20 offers. 10 were eliminated with a phone interview by the hospital, 9 couldn't pass the physical, and number 20 was my lucky number."

5.) What  are some of the difficulties, if any,  you experienced in waiting for a kidney?
The year and a half search had major challenges. Mark underscored that one of the biggest challenges he experienced was,  "The ups and downs of the donors being eliminated and the disappointment of starting the search over." Patients should expect disappointments as they search to find an altruistic match. Try not to become discouraged and give up. Keep going! Mark kept going after 19 let downs, and it was not until his 20th donor that he found his match. 

6.) What advice would you give patients actively looking for their kind-hearted donor?
According to Dr. Jeffrey Veale (UCLA transplant surgeon), “We have seen an increase in the number of altruistic donors over the past few years.” Mark added, "Many people object to donating a kidney and many are afraid to ask. The waiting time increases every day on the waiting list. Be your own salesman, answer and eliminate the objections, and then proceed to sell yourself." These insights very well may help you better engage with the increasing number of willing altruistic potential Living Kidney Donors. Try them out! 

Recommended Reading: CONFIRMED: Wealthy CKD Patients DO Get Kidneys Faster And Therefore Less Likely To Die. How And Why?

Mark wanted to ensure that he thanked his wife of over 40 years "for sticking with me through this" as well as his "donor angel" who saved his life. If you are finding it difficult to connect with kind-hearted, generous Living Kidney Donors, then complete the below form and let us know at We would love to help you and provide you with any resources we can.

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Recommended Reading: Transplant Centers Dropping Eligible CKD Patients From List To Maintain High Performance Rating

This success story should be shared far-and-wide because it has two important purposes: (1) Patients in need of a Kidney Transplant should recognize that there is hope, and there are a growing number of people willing to be altruistic living donors. Also, (2) individuals who are considering Living Kidney Donation should know that the process is safe and extremely rewarding. Surgery went well for both Mark and his donor and they are both back on their feet with a new appreciation for life.

Recommended Reading: Newer Procedure Allows Kidney Transplant To Be Donated To Second CKD Recipient After First Dies

How long have you been on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List? Have you received any calls from your Transplant Center?  Weigh-in with your own pros and cons at the Facebook Fan Page which has over 46,000 friends. While you are there, like the Facebook Fan Page and visit regularly (115,000+) for the latest tailored breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives. You may become a regular visitor like, Charles Griffin who said, "Praise God for KidneyBuzz."

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