When I donated a kidney to my stepfather almost 10 years ago, I was, well, almost 10 years younger. At that time, even though I wasn’t super young, I was younger-enough than my stepfather — that my kidney seemed like a nice, shall we say, upgrade for him. Some people who get donated kidneys end up needing more than one over the course of their lives… And, so far, knock on wood, my kidney still seems to be supporting my stepfather pretty well. I’m very grateful for that.
But, when you’re a person who would be willing to donate an organ, and you find out, as I have, that another person in your family… a person who is dear to you, a person who has their whole life ahead of them, a person who deserves to have the healthiest, most vibrant life possible, now also needs a kidney … it’s a little gut-wrenching to realize that, not only are you no longer a spring chicken, in possession of a nice upgrade kidney, but you only have one left and cannot give it away.
This is my current situation. I recently learned that that my super-amazing nephew, 25 years old, a producer on a morning tv show, a music-lover, musician, actor, extremely bright, pensive, introspective, humorous, lovely person… finds himself in kidney failure. And I – the only-one-kidney girl –must accept that I have … Only. One.
It’s just not fair.
After I spoke to my sister (his mother) the other day, when she gave me the news, I felt a little bad that I didn’t cry and freak out and get exasperated over the reality of the situation. But I guess I was just focusing on what the solution might be. (I tend to be able to do this when it’s someone else’s problem. When I have a problem of my own, I tend to just focus on the problem, not the solution. I should learn from myself!)
I remember when my stepfather first got sick many years ago. It was really hard for my mom, and she was at her wit’s end a lot of the time. And I remember telling her not to freak out, that it would be okay. I look back on it now and wonder if I seemed really callous or something. I should have *worried with her.* But I wanted to see the practical side of the situation. It was way before we got to the point that he needed a kidney transplant. So, I had no idea that I would eventually help in the way that I did. But I felt sure that he would come through it okay.
Now, when talking to my sister, I also feel optimistic and practical… confident that someone will come forward and donate a kidney to my nephew. Even if I had one to give, I would prefer that someone younger would do it. He doesn’t deserve a thoroughly used kidney. He deserves a fabulous, vivacious, energetic, enthusiastic kidney.
Maybe I am naïve or weird to think that it will be so automatic for someone else to do this. I should realize that everyone doesn’t see this type of thing the way I do. But I wish so hard that someone will.
Perhaps my role now, as a slightly older ookgirl, is to share my experience with whomever that is, so they know it can be such a gift to give of oneself. And so they know they can have a wonderful, normal life afterward.
I’m here for you, whoever you are. I’m waiting. I’m praying. I’m hoping you’ll hear this call I’m sending out. Maybe you are someone I know or someone he knows. Maybe you are a stranger. Maybe we will never meet you. But I feel you are there.
His life is so worth it. Your life will be worth more for it. Trust me.
“Strangers passing in the street. By chance two separate glances meet, and I am you and what I see is me.” –Pink Floyd