Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 – THE TRANSPLANT!!
I am writing this on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Six weeks ago today, I gave my left kidney to someone who shifted from an acquaintance to a “Forever Friend”.
In December 2016, I answered an ad in the Catholic paper and started the process of becoming a living kidney donor at YALE New Haven Hospital. After about 5 months of testing everything…heart, lungs, kidneys, blood work, and urine samples…I was considered an “approved donor”, except….I was wrapping up the school year and I was a bit too chubby!! In my head, I was donating to a stranger, so I figured I had time to get to the summer when it would be more “convenient” for me. All was fine, and then I learned that my aunt’s friend’s husband needed a kidney!
Long story short…I offered mine, he accepted and we were a match!
So, on Tuesday, July 25th, Mark and I met at Yale with our spouses and families beside us. Our paths would be forever intertwined in a fairly intimate way. After the 2.5 – 3 hour simultaneous surgeries, my kidney would help filter and regulate his body for the rest of his life. And my single kidney would do the same for me.
On Facebook, a flurry of comments from our friends flooded our pages. Quite honestly, since my journey was so private all Spring, and then we made it public right before the surgery, the sheer volume of love and support kind of freaked me out a little! The outpouring of love was so kind, supportive, and genuine!
“You are an angel.”
“God bless you both.”
“May the hands of the Great Healer be firmly placed on you both.”
“You inspire me.”
“A great story of the gift of love”
“Score one for the good guys!”
“We are very fortunate to have people who are willing to help someone else. Good to see you both up and about”
The reality is I did not set out to give my kidney to Mark. It was going to somebody, a stranger. All Spring long, I did not know Mark needed a kidney. It wasn’t until my parents went to a party at my cousin’s house and my aunt filled them in!
The reality is, if I hadn’t been in the process already, and I had found out on June 29th that Mark needed a kidney, I would have absolutely started the process to give it to him, but I wouldn’t have been able to give it to him at this point in the year. The process would have gone into the school year and my school year calendar would have prevented me from being able to give, even though we were a perfect match. In reality, our stars would not have aligned.
But instead, I heard a whisper in December that started the process. I said yes, wrote and emailed, and followed up with a phone call. I was assigned a wonderful case manager, Joyce, and started the process. Ultimately, I was ready to give to Mark when he needed it. I have to believe it was planned by someone or something far bigger than me; far bigger than Mark and me combined. I do believe it was God speaking to me in a quiet whisper, and I have learned over time that when I hear that whisper, I say YES.
The morning after our surgeries, we went for a walk with Mark’s wife, Pam. She took a great picture of the two of us hobbling along and tagged it on Facebook with the caption, “The miracle of modern medicine and love”. That statement sums it up.
All summer people have said to me that it is “amazing” that I gave a kidney to Mark. It has taken me six weeks to try to process it all and figure out the words to describe the experience. I still can’t quite capture it in words. When I try it to talk about the feelings I have about July 25th, the words get lost in the translation between my heart’s love for Mark and Pam, the appreciation I have for the doctors, nurses, social workers, and staff members at YALE New Haven Hospital (who bring new life to so many people everyday), and the overwhelming feeling of pain I have for the thousands of people who wait on a list for years for a donor. The experience is absolutely a once in a life time experience that is difficult to capture in words and yet is so deeply embedded in my heart. It is one more thing that defines who I am. Mark is forever a part of my life’s story and I believe it was not a coincidence, but rather a very planned forever connection that was orchestrated from above.
Bottom line is I think Pam summed it up. My gift of a kidney to Mark is “a miracle of modern medicine and (God’s) Love.”