Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Inspiration

Is it a coincidence that I want to be a donor and I have two friends who have kidney transplants? Probably not. More than likely their friendship planted the seed in my mind without me or them even knowing that the seed was being planted.

My old best friend - I also have a new best friend, a best friend at work, a best friend at the gym, a best guy friend - you get the idea. Anyway, my old best friend moved to Baltimore a few years ago with her husband and they called to get a recommendation for new doctors. Specifically, he needed a nephrologist. That was when I learned he had a transplant. He had a rare condition as a child that caused both kidneys to stop functioning. Luckily, both his parents were a match and at the age of 21, he received his dad's kidney. You would never know that he has a transplant. Hmmmm... people with transplants look and act just like people without transplants.

I am on the board of a local non-profit that works on policy, legislation and programs to help remove barriers for lower wage and lower skill workers to open avenues for them to get and keep jobs with good pay and benefits. (I am doing them a great disservice by not explaining further, but it is Donate Day - 4 and I can only write so much.) I became close with one of the staff. I am not sure when, but somewhere along the way she told me that she had a kidney transplant. I never asked her the details, but I know that she received a cadaveric kidney when she was only 12 years old.

He is 43 and she is 36 now. They both have transplants that are over 20 years old. Without these kidneys, they would have died tragically young.

They are my inspiration. Whenever I get the least bit uneasy, I think of them. I felt the need to reach out to both of them this week when I needed a little dose of reassurance. They are the living proof that kidney donation gives back life. I value them in my life and know my life and others' lives would be less complete without them in it.

1 comment:

  1. Pamela, as the "42" year old in your note above (remind me to talk to my wife about my birthday), I can't thank you enough for the gift that you're giving. I was blessed, in many ways, to have been diagnosed with kidney disease when I was in fifth grade, so my family and I had the opportunity to monitor my kidney function actively over the following ten or so years before a transplant decision was required.

    I was fortunate enough to have two loving parents who were both willing to make the great sacrifice of donating a kidney, which my father ultimately did. As you said, I'm doing great and my father, now 70, is also doing very well over 20 years later.

    Growing up with kidney disease, through junior high and high school, seemed like a big contact sports (I was a middling athlete at best, no loss to the greater society), I had to watch my diet, etc. But as I've grown older, I appreciate that, in many ways, I have received a great gift over and above receiving the kidney itself.

    Everyday I'm reminded of the good fortune of being alive when I look in the mirror at a surgical scar, now fading, and the medicines I take without thinking every morning and night. It's a frequent reminder that bad days at the office, unexpected car and home repairs and arguments over homework are really not that bad and, in fact, much better than the alternative.

    There's thousands of people waiting for the same gift that I was lucky to receive over 20 years ago. It seems like a daunting situation, but you've taken a great step in putting a dent in that figure, an important dent, for the person on the other end.

    Our hopes and prayers are with you and your receipient as you complete this journey.