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Donor Stories

Facebook Inspired Me to Donate

Most of the time, when I tell someone I donated a kidney to a stranger, the first response is an incredulous, “why?”  My answer is, “why not?”  I had never given living donation much thought, but the moment I saw the need I knew I would do it.  It was a clear, precise moment when I knew this was the road I would travel.  But let me back up, because the “stranger” I donated for turned out not to be a stranger at all.

I became a kidney donor through, of all things, Facebook.  The owner of a store in my small hometown, Jenny, needed a kidney and reached out to her friends with a Facebook post.  Having suffered through a car accident in her 20’s, her first transplanted kidney was failing.  She needed a second one and asked anyone interested to contact the OSU Transplant Center with questions.  After discussions with OSU and my employer, I called Jenny one evening while she was working at her storeand offered my kidney.  The process had begun.

I spoke with each of my family members individually.  When I told my brother, he wryly said “I knew you wouldn’t pass that up.”  When I told my mother, she said “You do know who that is, don’t you?”  The stranger to whom I had just offered my kidney?  It turns out that Jenny’s grandmother was my neighbor growing up and she and I had most likely played together as kids.  Our grandmothers were friends for as far back as I can remember.  I had no idea we were connected.

After some testing at OSU, we received mixed news.  The bad news was that the testing showed she would reject my kidney; I could not donate directly to her.  The good news was that we could be put, jointly, on a chain donation list.  I would be offering my kidney to a (true) stranger in exchange for a kidney for Jenny.  This increased Jenny’s chances of getting a kidney because it put her on a new list, one supplemental to the standard transplant list.  There was no hesitation: sign us up.

Sixteen months after we started the process the call came.  Surgery was in three weeks.  On February 23, 2012, I donated my right kidney to a stranger.  My surgical experience was uncommonly easy.  I had minimal pain and was back to work ten days after surgery.

While my life now is exactly the same as it was before the surgery, Jenny’s life is nothing like it was before.  No more all-morning dialysis treatments three days a week.  No more cancelled vacations because they were too far away from the hospital and the dialysis department.  No more exhaustion of both body and mind from the stress of the wait.

I have never heard from the woman who received my kidney.  I have details: I know she is a mother in New York, but I do not know how her surgery went.  Was it a success?  Is my kidney still working for her?  Did the person who donated on her behalf fare well?  I may never know the answers to these questions and that is okay.  I let go of my kidney the day I read that Facebook plea.

I have not regretted my decision for one moment.  I spent many years yearning to do more, to be more altruistic in my life.  I felt like something was missing.  I wanted to do more good deeds.  I wanted to do something for someone else.  Something big.  I nailed it.

You too could do something big, something selfless for someone else. Register as donor by saying “yes” at the BMV or clicking here to register online.

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