Laura M.

Soon to a LIVING KIDNEY DONOR!


 
Laura knew, after seeing a Facebook post that she wanted to donate her kidney.

Laura knew, after seeing a Facebook post that she wanted to donate her kidney.

 

 

I am one week away from being a non-directed living kidney donor.


I am one week away from being a non-directed living kidney donor.

That is, I am donating one of my healthy kidneys to someone I never met before, someone I don’t know, living several states away. All I know is that he or she needs a kidney in order to live and we are a match!

I will actually be the first person in a 4-person kidney donation chain. This is because my recipient has a friend or relative willing to donate but does not match with him. Therefore, I will be donating to my match, and his friend or relative will donate to someone else on his behalf. This second kidney recipient has a friend or relative who will then donate on to a third person on his behalf and so forth. In total, there will be 8 surgeries, and 4 people who are waiting on the National Kidney Registry (NKR) getting new kidneys. And as for everyone else on the NKR, they will move up 4 spots on the list.

Although this seems ironic, I can’t help but feel that I am getting the better deal in this whole arrangement. Sure, I am giving a stranger one of my healthy kidneys, but I feel like I am getting back so much more. In fact, I don’t know the last time I have done something that seems so self-serving. My friends think I’m crazy and tell me what I am doing is the complete opposite: totally selfless. But, let me explain.

Several months ago I came across a Facebook post my sister shared. It was a plea. A mom was trying to find a kidney for her 16-year old child and time was running out. Having a 16-year old child myself, I was instantly drawn to the post. I started clicking on the links and reading about what it takes to be a kidney donor. As if struck by lightening, I realized, “I can do this!” It seemed like common sense. Not some huge undertaking, but something so necessary and relatively easy to do. I signed up.

In fact, the image that keeps popping up in my head is one of a giant warehouse in the middle of a desert. From wall to wall and up to the ceiling, it is filled with food. Outside the warehouse are people starving but the doors to the warehouse are locked! To me, this image represents all the people dying every day as they wait for a healthy kidney - while busy people walk by them with two healthy kidneys, when they only need one.

I feel I am a perfect candidate. I am 51 years old and not planning on having any more children. I am healthy and fit, working out at Orange Theory Fitness several times a week, snowboarding and playing ice hockey. I have a great support system and a flexible work situation. Having had 6 previous surgeries for sports injuries and c-sections, the idea of another surgery didn’t bother me. If I couldn’t do it, who could? I’ve always admired organ donors and I feel that this is my time to walk this walk.

A few weeks later I got an email saying that the child no longer needed my kidney but asking if I would still be willing to donate. Having already read countless articles and FAQ’s, watched some Ted talks and listened to many stories, I enthusiastically said, “Yes!”

And what did I receive in return? Empowerment. Purpose. Euphoria. Community.

Empowerment. At times I feel completely overwhelmed at the state of the world. The hatred, hunger, fear, violence, a deteriorating environment, the insidious political divisiveness. The problems seem too great for one person or even many people to solve. It can be downright depressing at times. And then I came across this saying: Even if you can’t change the world, you can still change one person’s world. Coincidentally, kidney donation was on my mind. It affirmed my decision to donate a kidney. I felt empowered. I might not be able to change the world, but I could help change one person’s world…or maybe even four.

Purpose. I consider myself privileged. Most importantly, I am healthy. Health privilege is more valuable than all other privileges put together. Plus, I live in an amazing community in Park City, Utah. It’s a ski town with limitless access to the outdoors all year round, wonderful schools, friendly happy people. I have a great job as a Mountain Host at Park City Mountain Resort, snowboarding much of the day. I am married and have two awesome kids, a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon and two fish! Life is good. Being grateful for one’s good fortune is important, but I’ve realized that it’s even more important to give back. Giving back gives one a sense of purpose. Donating my kidney, sharing my privilege, has given me a greater sense of purpose and meaning.

Euphoria. I have heard this many times. An unexpected consequence of donating your kidney is a feeling of euphoria. I’ve been told that it’s similar to the feeling of giving birth to a baby. I am a week a way from donating and I already know what they are talking about. You are giving life to someone. It feels good. In fact, just this weekend I was driving home from chaperoning a prom. I was driving up the canyon on I-80 and it was pouring rain. I could hardly see. I was nervous and felt especially protective of my kidneys! After all, my recipient is already aware of the match as he/she is also just one week away from surgery. At this point, I feel as if I am carrying someone else’s baby, someone else’s chance at life.

Community. Probably the most unexpected gift I am receiving from donating a kidney is community. I had no idea there was even a kidney donation community out there. It is full of euphoric people who are empowered and have purpose! I am one week away from donation and I’ve already met so many of these amazing people across the country. I feel a part of something that is big and full of momentum.

Hopefully the transplant is a success. And hopefully I will be able to meet my recipient. And if I do, I will say to him or her: thank you.

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