The Gift of a Kidney
In Spring of 2005, at Atonement Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio, Pastor Daniel led our Sunday worship. During the service, we prayed for our member, Jeff M., that a compatible kidney donor would be found for him. This was the first time many of us learned of Jeff’s illness.
I recall thinking that I would just ask, what was the first step? Other members also responded to the call. Now looking back, it is evident that so many factors were put in place, many years earlier.
Our Lutheran Church denomination, the Missouri Synod, passed a Resolution in 1981 to encourage donation of kidneys and other organs on the premise that we accept and believe that our Lord Jesus came to give life and to give it abundantly. (JOHN 10:10.)
In college, I began donating whole blood and did that for 20 years. Then I did apheresis platelet donation and registered as a bone marrow donor. Now I’m participating in an OSU Medical study of the shingles vaccine, to make it available for my age group, as it is already in use for people 60 and over. Still, I don’t consider myself a big risk taker. I am merely proof that God uses the weak to show the awesome power of His love.
There were random tense moments in the months leading up to the operation, when I felt an adrenalin rush—then just as quickly, I was enveloped in His peace. Sometimes God impresses on our hearts to just be still and know that He is God.
A month and a half before the transplant, Jeff and I had the final blood draw to confirm that we matched well enough to proceed – we had the green light. Jeff and I and our families were excited! That night I went to Bethel United Methodist Church, where I was tutoring for the Columbus Literacy Council in a class of approximately 25 adults from all over the world. Every week there was a different theme. That night it was human anatomy. The teacher provided small plastic human models with removable internal organs. My students were three Asian men I had never tutored before then, one was a delightful Chinese urologist. My story came out and he said at once that he had assisted in transplants and the four-hour laparoscopic operation was relatively simple. There was virtually no need to worry for myself. I credit the Holy Spirit for the pleasant surprise of yet another dose of reassurance.
On Sunday, November 13th, 2005 the congregation at Atonement prayed for Jeff and me. Our operation was scheduled for November 18th, which was also my 27th wedding anniversary. One member told me that I would receive many blessings during this journey, and I did, indeed. As a City of Columbus employee, I received the Mayor’s Award of Excellence. My office provided up to six weeks’ paid leave but I only used four and there was no cost to me. My husband’s service club, Tri-Village Sertoma, gave me their annual Service To Mankind Award. I received hospital visits, cards, phone calls, home-cooked meals and presents from friends at work and church, from Jeff’s family and his precious Grandma Stella.
Best of all, the operation was a success! Jeff has more energy now than he did 20 years ago. And I feel wonderful too! Praise God!