“It was not until I was asked by the NKF to write about a day in the life of a Living Donor Coordinator as a part of Organ Donation Week that I realised there is not a typical day in my role to describe!

Each day, while having some recurring jobs, the role is varied and unpredictable.

I moved into the role of Living Kidney Donor Transplant Coordinator in September 2021. I had previously worked with the advanced kidney disease team as a Specialist Nurse. I was acutely aware of the importance of transplantation and the difference it can make to a person’s life.

I am privileged to work with potential living kidney donors. These are people willing to offer a kidney to be donated to a loved one, friend or stranger, and to support them every step of the way.

Every day is busy and passes quickly, there are highs and lows in the role.

I job share 3 days a week with another Living Donor Coordinator and the team has a full-time Clinical Practitioner.

The day begins with replying to telephone messages and emails. We receive multiple calls and messages most days from people expressing an interest in becoming a kidney donor. I complete referral forms and take a brief medical history to check for any reason, eg diabetes, that they would not be a suitable donor. If there are no obvious problems, they will then be contacted by our practitioner to have initial testing This includes various blood and urine tests, chest x-rays, a heart tracing and blood pressure and weight check.

If these tests are passed by the Nephrologist the donor will have an appointment for a Nurse consultation, these can be via video call or face to face. These last around an hour and I explain the pathway to donation, the tests, surgery, risks and recovery. The potential donor is our priority, and we must be as certain as possible that they will not be put at risk by donating a kidney.

Alternate weeks I attend an x-ray meeting where I am involved in viewing and discussing the donors scan results. These are interesting and a good opportunity to learn.

All results are discussed by the multidisciplinary team in a fortnightly meeting both coordinators attend. I am jointly responsible for preparing the agenda for this and inviting the team members. This is where the decision will be made that everyone is happy that the donor is healthy, physically and psychologically and well enough to give a kidney.

There is a clinic every Wednesday with a varied mix of patients. The potential donors attend for further tests including a scan of the kidneys. They are examined by both a surgeon and nephrologist and I sit in during the consultations.

There will be previous donors in the clinic having follow up check-ups and potential donors attending to be given their results and decision on whether they can donate. On those occasions when donors must be declined it can be very disappointing for everyone involved and providing support and advice to people when this happens is another vital part of the role. It is important that we let people know what a positive thing they have done by coming forward as a potential donor.

I also have a Nurse led clinic weekly where I telephone previous donors for an annual review. They remain under our care for life.

A large part of my role is liaising with other services such as psychology and making referrals to various agencies. I also work closely with coordinators in other hospitals as we can perform tests for people whose loved one lives in another town and vice versa.

If a donor is unable to give a kidney directly to their loved one due to blood incompatibility, they can be entered into a national kidney sharing scheme to hope to find a better match. It Is part of my role to ensure they are enrolled and then work with the other centres involved if they are matched. This can result in up to 3 transplants all happening on the same day!

When this process is complete, we have the day of the operation. This is a very busy and exciting day for all the team.

I will see the donor the night before surgery and again on the morning and check all is well before attending the theatre briefing. When they are safely asleep I prepare equipment to be ready for the removal of the kidney. The kidney is examined by the surgeons and perfused with special fluid, then I carefully pack it into a box of ice. This is a special moment and I always feel quite emotional as I complete the paperwork and send the kidney off to its new owner.

I will speak to the families throughout the day to reassure them all is well and visit the donor as they wake up. I never forget that these people have undergone this operation to better the life of another.

It is very important that renal patients are made aware of the possibility of living donation early in their journey. They need support and encouragement to have the conversation with family and friends about who may offer to be tested. Some people will use social media to appeal for donors and this can generate a huge amount of interest.

Publicity for the general population to be aware that they can donate to a stranger is also important as these donations can trigger a chain of transplants.”

If Deborah’s story has inspired you to join the organ donor register please visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-your-decision/ or to become a live donor, please visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/become-a-living-donor/