He was 49 years old in March, and he hopes to celebrate his 50th birthday next year.
Anyone would wish the same, but Scott Englander, a Woodmere resident, faces an uncertain future. According to his mother, Arlene, after a catastrophic bacterial infection left him in a coma more than six years ago, Scott suffered both heart and kidney failure. His heart stabilized, but his kidney function continued to decline until he was forced to begin regular dialysis recently.
He is being treated at the Julia and Israel Waldbaum Davida Dialysis facility in Great Neck, where he undergoes dialysis three times a week, for four and a half hours at a time. It is a grueling routine that leaves him exhausted. The only way off dialysis, however, is to get a kidney transplant.
The family hopes for a living donor, someone who finds it within him or herself to promise Scott another birthday, and another one after that. We have all read stories of selfless individuals who know they can live normally with one kidney and are willing to come forward in an exceptional act of generosity.
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I have known Arlene and Richard Englander for more than 50 years. We hadn’t connected in a long time when Arlene reached out, hoping to increase Scott’s chances of finding a kidney donor. They had already tried Zoom mega-calls and bulk mailings and emails. Maybe, they thought, someone will read this and consider giving this gift of life. Perhaps the word will pass through our communities and someone will step forward.
For the recipient, according to the National Kidney Transplant Foundation, “Your health and energy should improve. In fact, a successful kidney transplant may allow you to live the kind of life you were living before you got kidney disease. Studies show that people with kidney transplants live longer than those who remain on dialysis.”
Unrelated individuals who make a good match may be able to donate one of their kidneys, in a living transplant. If a donor and recipient are incompatible, there are “kidney swaps,” in which donors can provide kidneys to compatible recipients in exchange for a compatible donation to their intended recipient. Advances in kidney transplant have made it possible to do the surgeries laparoscopically, which leads to much shorter recovery times. Potential donors are carefully screened, and supported physically and emotionally.
According to the Kidney Project at the University of California, San Francisco, some 100,000 patients in the United States are on the kidney transplant list, and the need for donor kidneys is rising 8 percent per year. The wait times for an organ vary from state to state. Fortunately, most insurance covers the expenses for both transplant donors and recipients. Many charitable groups offer travel and work compensation for donors. It is, of course, illegal to buy or sell human organs or tissue in the U.S.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the hospital stay for most kidney donors is one or two days. Its website states, “After kidney donation, most people are able to return to normal daily activities after two to four weeks. You may be advised to avoid contact sports or other strenuous activities that may cause kidney damage.” In the U.S., more than 6,000 living-organ donations are completed each year. Living-kidney donation is the most common type of living-donor transplant. People can donate one of their two kidneys, and the remaining kidney is able to perform the necessary functions.
For the recipient, receiving a kidney from a living donor is successful more than 98 percent of the time, according to the Mayo Clinic. If the kidney comes from a deceased donor, the success rate is 93 percent. Ongoing treatment tethered to dialysis is a difficult alternative.
Scott Englander and his family are hoping for a living donor. He would like to go back to his work as a chiropractor and his life with his family. His roots in the community run deep: He went to the Number Six School, Lawrence Middle School, Lawrence High School, SUNY Albany and Life University in Georgia.
Scott has been on the transplant list at the Northwell Health Transplant Center for two and a half years, his mother says. She says the expectation is a wait of some five to eight years to get a deceased person’s kidney. A living donor could come forward at any time.
In a note to me this week, Scott said that he hopes for a kidney so that he may live long enough to see his children grow up.
Copyright 2021 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.