Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Smoking Cessation: A Donor Benefit

As Steve nears the possibility of another kidney transplant, we are reminded of the requirement that living donors cannot smoke -- or at least, they have to stop smoking for a couple of months prior to the transplant.

I am biased, of course. I dearly hope that Steve will have another transplant opportunity, and I hope this transplant will be successful.

But what does the donor gain?

I expect that there is a sense of personal satisfaction in having really stepped up to meet a need. Not in a "lip service" kind of way, but in the way that helps like nothing else can.

I have been impressed that potential donors have been able to quit smoking in preparation for the transplant. No small achievement. After all, it's easier to help people withdraw from heroin than tobacco.

When I delivered babies, I was amazed at how many women stopped smoking -- for the health of their babies. Many of these women hadn't been able to stop for themselves, but they could do it for their baby. Interesting commentary!

As a Family Physician, I have come to recognize that smoking is one of the most destructive health habits we fight. (I am learning that physical inactivity, i.e. the lack of exercise, is another.)

If a kidney donor continues to abstain from smoking after the transplant is completed, this represents an enormous gift to the donor with respect to the donor's later health and longevity!

Thank you to all donors and potential donors. If you can get an additional pay-off from your extreme gift of kindness, so much the better.

Take care. Linda Gromko, MD

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