May 29, 2023

Waiting for a new life

Hannelore hofmann has three kidneys, but none of them works anymore. She therefore carefully ties on her mouth guard before opening the bag with the glucose water. For two years now, the 59-year-old has had to return to dialysis; for the past year, she has been able to perform the gentler peritoneal dialysis herself in her own home.
She is now in the same situation as she was 25 years ago, when she had to put her name on the waiting list for a donor kidney. With this step, however, she is now moving. Organ donation has come under scrutiny, not only by potential donors, but also by many of the patients themselves. For example, there was the discussion about "brain death"-concept. "It is always said that brain death is irreversible if it is properly diagnosed. Surely the doctors keep the circulation going, because the organs need to be supplied with blood. But one has also heard from a few cases that some people who were declared brain dead have woken up again", reports hannelore hofmann.
She did not like the fact that another person had to die so that she could live on his kidney. "On the other hand, this apparatus medicine can also keep a dead person alive for a very long time", she says.
She is not one of the opponents of school and apparatus medicine. On the contrary: "if it didn't exist, I would have been dead a long time ago." To put oneself on the waiting list in this situation was completely natural at the time. The wait was about one to two years. Today, the average wait in germany is between seven and ten years. "An elderly person cannot wait that long for a donor organ", hofmann is clear.
Hannelore hofmann also explains the current scandal about donor organs with these long waiting times. A doctor in gottingen and earlier in regensburg had manipulated files so that patients would move up the waiting list and thus receive donor organs more quickly. "The more people were willing to donate an organ, the less business could be done with it", believes hofmann.

Devastating diagnosis

She backed this up with a survey that showed that while only 75 percent were willing to donate an organ, 98 percent wanted one if the worst happened. No one asked themselves these questions 25 years ago. At that time, hannelore hofmann had just passed her first state examination and needed a health certificate for her teaching service. At this routine checkup, she received the devastating diagnosis: "dialysis and, after the waiting period, a transplant, were my future prospects. It was my saddest christmas", the igensdorf woman remembers. For ten years, the doctors managed to maintain a constant condition, but in april 1986, the then 33-year-old had to go on dialysis.
That was the time to put herself on the waiting list. "You can't be put on the list until you're on dialysis", hofmann explains that she did this without hesitation, because in those years there was no talk of organ scandals, transactions involving organs or dubious brain deaths. After one and a half years, the senior physician in bayreuth said that a kidney was available for her. "At this moment you think nothing. Then one hopes that everything will pass well", the teacher describes her thoughts and feelings at the time.
Finally everything went fast and the new kidney started to work a few days after the operation. A life with more quality of life started, although she has to take daily medication. This "normal" living with the foreign kidney, she lived for 25 years. That was thirteen years longer than is usual with donor kidneys, according to the doctors.
But two years ago, this donor kidney also stopped working. Since then, hannelore hofmann has been back on dialysis. She has a donor card, although she thinks that her organs are too damaged to allow another human being to continue living.
Hannelore hofmann has now been put on the waiting list again to receive a new kidney. But their doubts and insecurities are just too big for that at the moment.


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