Are You Kidneying Me?

Happy March Madness! Tonight marks the start of the best three weeks in college basketball and my K-State Wildcats are playing ironically…the Wildcats…of Kentucky. I guess you could say it’s going to be a cat fight.

Cheesy pun aside, I actually have a pretty busy week apart from some guaranteed basketball watching. Recently, I decided to start volunteering at a hospital here in town. After volunteering at one hospital, I’ve decided to also volunteer at a second hospital. I will be starting the volunteering this week and am looking forward to that.

Outside of my new volunteering, I have many other exciting things coming up in the following weeks, including celebrating both Autism Awareness Month and National Donate Life Month this April. I know you are thinking that the Autism Awareness Month participation is obvious due to my Asperger’s, but I’m sure you are curious about why I am celebrating National Donate Life Month.

Here’s why: I’m in the beginning stages of the process to donate a kidney to an anonymous recipient.

You are probably asking yourself, “Are you kidneying me? Why did Zach decide to do such a big thing?”

Yet another cheesy pun aside, I’ve already been asked that question several times by family members and friends and I’m sure it will come up many more times over the process. The simple answer to why I’m donating is because I want to. The more detailed answer has to do with the foundation of my faith, the desire to help another human being and the fact that I can get a cool looking lower back scar.

I’m kidding about wanting to donate for the cool back scar, but I’m serious about my faith and wanting to help save a life. When I was born, aside from a great team of doctors helping me stay alive, I have God to thank for my survival. Since I got a second chance at life when I was young, I want to give someone else a second chance at life now that I’ve grown up. Although like with any surgery, there is a risk factor involved, I am committed to going through the evaluation process and look forward to hopefully getting the chance to be a donor to someone over the next few months.

As you might expect, the process has many steps, the first of which was your standard health information form to get some basic knowledge of me. The second step, since I’m doing what’s called a non-specific donation, will be to meet with a psychiatrist who will do an evaluation and figure out my reasons for wanting to donate and make sure I’m in good mental health to make my decision. After the evaluation, I will go to the transplant center for one to two days of testing where I will have blood tests, MRI’s and a physical, among many other tests, to determine my internal health for the donation to make sure I’m a perfectly healthy donor. The final step is of course finding someone that needs a kidney and with a large transplant list, that will happen fairly soon I assume after the test results and if I get the go ahead from the transplant committee.

Cost wise, the entire donation process is free to me because donors are covered by the recipients insurance. In the case of me giving to an anonymous recipient, my cost will be covered by the transplant center.

All of this will be taking place at the University of Kansas Hospital’s transplant center. It’s kind of funny how I’m putting my life into the hands of Jayhawks. But hey, it’s for a good cause so I’m okay with it.

Outside of wondering why I want to donate a kidney, another common question that I’ve been asked is what will happen to me if I ever need a kidney and that is a great question. If I donate a kidney and need one later, I actually get points for donating and move up in line on the recipient list.

My evaluation with the psychiatrist is set for April 7 and I’m excited to get the process started with that appointment. Until then, I’m going to be busy volunteering at the hospitals, as well as heading back to K-State next week to assist recruiting people for the student philanthropy that I founded that promotes the K-State Cancer Research Center. Also, a trip to Manhattan wouldn’t be complete without trying to work on my autism advocacy, so next Friday, I am meeting with members of Alpha Xi Delta sorority to begin a chapter of Autism Speaks U at K-State. Autism Speaks U, according to Autism Speaks, “is a program designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts for Autism Speaks.”

I look forward to returning to Manhattan to help with both of those great causes and am excited to bring in new members to both student groups.

If you would like to learn more about being an organ donor you can visit Donate Life America.

Also, if you would like to learn more about Autism Speaks U, visit their webpage.

That’s it for tonight. I’ll have another blog post soon about my upcoming philanthropy work at K-State.

Oh, if you were looking for my Asperger Q&A response video after my last post, I’ve decided to table the Q&A idea for now.




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