It Was My Calling
I’ve heard people say that they’ve felt a calling to do something, but I never understood it until I had that nudge to look beyond myself and help others. One night, I had a dream that I donated a kidney to my friend who was battling bladder cancer. The next day I found out that she was in the hospital having trouble with her kidneys – thankfully she didn’t need a kidney, but I began to think I could donate to someone else.
After doing a lot of research, I sat my three daughters and husband down to talk to them about what I planned to do – I had decided I wanted to be a living kidney donor and save someone’s life. “What if I need a kidney one day?” my 14-year-old asked. I responded, “What if you don’t and I can help someone else’s parent, sibling or grandparent live now?” She considered that, and it earned me her support.
I told the rest of my family and friends and I continued my research on donating altruistically. I was soon referred to The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
I was accepted as an altruistic donor in June 2014 after four months of testing. It was only a few short weeks later that I got the call – my donation would start a chain of eight people. The chain meant I was going to donate my kidney to a man I did not know in New Jersey. He had a friend or family member that wasn’t a match for him, but they still wanted to donate to someone. Other candidates were in the same situation. When the chain was complete, there would be four living donors and four kidney recipients. I was so happy that I was giving the Gift of Life! The transplant surgery was scheduled for July 23, 2014.
On my surgery day, after I kissed my husband, I was wheeled into the waiting area, and I started to get very emotional. I knew this was my calling – it was what I was meant to do.
My kidney donation went seamlessly and I was able to be with my family just a few hours later.
The day after my surgery, the surgeon told me the kidney was working very well for the recipient. Of course, I cried. I did it! I gave the Gift of Life!
My recovery went very well. I was off work for four weeks, but could have easily gone back sooner. The only thing I have to show is three very thin scars that I am very proud of.
About a week after Thanksgiving, I received a certified letter from New Jersey – it was from my recipient thanking me for what I did for him and his family. We’ve been able to connect, speak on the phone and exchange pictures of our families.
What I did totally changed my life and my perspective. It’s been several months since my surgery and I feel great. I can’t believe how easy this was to do; I just wish more people would realize it. I hope that this story will inspire someone else to become a living donor because life is a gift.