Tuesday, June 22, 2010

baby steps

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Harvey Mysel from the Living Kidney Donors Network, was instrumental in providing me with the information I needed that led me to the decision to be a living kidney donor. Harvey established the LKDN after recognizing the need for better resources while pursuing a successful living kidney transplant in 2006. If it wasn’t for his patience and his generous time with me, I know that I might never have taken the steps forward to get me to this point where I am now.

One of the most important factors in my decision, was the ability to be able to talk with a non-directed donor so that I might get all the information I needed, straight from the horse’s mouth - so to speak. The internet will only provide data that is in the best interest of the organization in which you seek to retrieve information. I wanted to build a relationship of sorts with another woman that I knew would be honest with me about her journey, not just a voice behind the process to convince me to hand over my organ. Harvey was kind enough to make a connection for me, and that angel is Cara Yesawich.

Cara lives in Chicago and I was so anxious to talk to her, as we had been emailing for about a week. Excited to finally hear her voice, I was a bit hesitant to get involved in the conversation for fear she would tell me something that might spook me. I didn’t want to hear anything that might create a wave of fear and cause me to terminate my progress towards being a candidate. I can honestly say that my reaction to her story was just the opposite. She was so candid, kind, informative and knowledgeable. I was elated to find her to be as enthusiastic about her journey, just as much as I was about the prospect of being able to donate my kidney. Cara’s story was so inspiring and beneficial to me, and I know it’s because she shared with me the good, the bad and the ugly. I was lucky enough to start my correspondence with her prior to her transplant surgery, which enabled me to get a feel for her emotional state both prior to, and after. Cara was an altruistic donor - a domino that set off a kidney pairing that enabled 8 people to receive a kidney. Calling her an angel is an understatement. I encourage readers to visit her blog to explore her story. She has been such an inspiration to me and I value this new friendship.

Harvey also made a connection for me to another non-directed living kidney donor, Hope Preston. Hope lives in New Jersey, and she too had recently recovered from her surgery. Hope was so informative, providing me with a written journal that gave me detailed day-by-day progress up until and after her surgery. Hope’s transplant surgery was at Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York. She was very pleased with the care and treatment she received there and had suggested that perhaps I look into the possibility of moving forward with that hospital as opposed to a local one here in Albany. So, I began researching more into that option. Hope gave me contact information of her administrative coordinator at the National Kidney Registry and suggested that should I decide to choose Weill Cornell, that I might give her a call. Hope’s speedy recovery, and her positive experience with her transplant team convinced me to work directly with Weill Cornell. Hope too, has been such a positive influence in my decision-making process, and I owe her many thanks for her time, kindness and patience with my inquiries.

On Monday, April 26, 2010, I made the decision to register online at the National Kidney Registry to be considered as a donor. My homework was thorough, and establishing a relationship with Cara and Hope, only solidified my decision. My first step in the process in becoming a living kidney donor was complete and I have to say that it was probably the best decision I have made in a long time. My internal spirit was lifted and I knew that my journey had only just begun.

Until next time... start each day with a big stretch and a glass of water - you will feel refreshed and better prepared!