Thursday, June 18, 2009

Everyone Needs a Mentor

Shortly after I volunteered to be a donor, the Transplant Office at Hopkins asked me if I wanted a mentor. I know and promote the value of mentoring in career development, so it sounded like a great idea. The coordinator said they would try to connect me with someone who I could relate to. Well, they weren't kidding!

In a few days they called me and gave me her number. They said she was about my age and had donated her kidney to her husband 3 - 4 years ago. The following Sunday I called the number they gave me....

"Hi, this is Pamela, Hopkins Transplant Office gave me your number as my mentor. I am considering donating a kidney and was wondering if we could talk."

In a loud, distant voice I hear. "Oh, Hi! I was expecting your call! But I am in Snow Mass! Right now I am at the top of the run about to come down! Can I call you when I get to the bottom!?"

The coordinator had hit a home run. Here was a woman full of life who had just donated a kidney. Her response was better than any brochure I could read.

We did talk when she got back to the lodge. She gave me some great practical advice including to do as much side stretching as possible before the surgery. She said she did not know why but her mentor (her uncle if my recollection is correct) had warned her that you would be very sore because your arm is over your head for most of the operation. She said she had not stretched as much as she should have and was definitely sore.

She said to walk as much as I can after the surgery even if it is only around my apartment. In a week, she could walk a block. She reminded that for the first few weeks I would have good and bad days and not to get discouraged. She emphasized over and over that my life would not be harmed in the least after the recovery period. And she is living proof of that.

I called her again last night to tell her I had a date scheduled for this Monday. First thing she said was, "Have you been stretching." I have! I got lots of encouragement and support and repeated cautions about following doctors orders to rest from her. Hmmmm....I wonder why she thinks that would be a problem for me?

I am learning that the donor/recipient community is larger than I expected. As I talk about it publically I hear of more and more people in my own extended circle who have given or gotten kidneys. I also hear too often of people who are waiting for a kidney or of people who have died waiting.

Thank you to my mentor for her encouragement. I need to go stretch now!


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