Tuesday, March 22, 2011

6 months flying solo

Happy Anniversary to me!

Today marks 6 months to the day of my surgery, and what feels like the longest winter on record. Go away, snow. On September 22, 2010, I made the best decision of my life and donated my kidney to what was at that time, a complete stranger. She is no longer a stranger, but someone that will forever be a part of my life, forever be someone that changed my life.

I didn't know who would receive my kidney. I didn't know their gender, age, religious affiliation, lifestyle, marital status, career, where they lived, or the specifics of their medical condition that had brought them to a life on dialysis. What I did know is that there was someone out there that desperately needed a kidney that would provide them the quality of life they so much deserved. My kidney could have gone to virtually anyone, and I knew when I started this journey that I wanted to let this decision be in God's hands. There was no way I could possibly hand-pick a recipient from this unfortunately large pool of candidates. Can you imagine... eenie, meenie, miney, moe...?  I was confident and very comfortable knowing that my recipient would be selected by the only one, in my opinion, capable of making that difficult decision. I thank God that he has brought Julia to me in this very non-conventional way, and given me a purpose in my life.

I've learned so much about myself these past 6 months, and I am grateful for this growth. My physical recovery from the surgery is long over, and with the exception of a minor struggle with fatigue, I feel fantastic. My health over the winter has been superb - not even a cold! My fitness goals and accomplishments are greater and more challenging than before the surgery, and my heart and soul have found a sense of peace and immeasurable fulfillment. My active involvement in the living kidney donor community is now a priority in my life (move over Jeter) and I take great pride and pleasure in being a part of this. Never did I dream that my passion for donor awareness would continue after the transplant surgery was over. Not only has it maintained it's presence in my life, I have found that it has become a new direction for me to explore much further. My desire to gain knowledge and deeper understanding of the challenges of donor/recipient matches and paired exchanges continues to intrigue me and I have become somewhat of a 'kidney news' junkie.

In these six months, not a day has gone by that I have not thought about my recipient, Julia. I think about her health and her well-being, and pray that she continues to feel great (because I don't have room for it now if she wants to give it back). Our correspondence is minimal but I did recently receive a text message from her, and my heart was filled with joy when I saw my phone light up her name. She wanted to share some wonderful news with me...her nephrologist has given her the thumbs-up to have another child. If she has a girl I think 'Angela' has a nice ring to it. Naturally, she expressed immense gratitude to me for making this happen and shared some comments to me regarding the option of endless possibilities in her life that she now has, and didn't before. I am so happy for her and her opportunities to live such a rewarding life now. When I'm having an off moment, or I'm feeling a little blue, I think of her and my day seems so much brighter.

Other donors that I have formed relationships with say that the memory of the donation fades over time. Maybe so for them, but I'm pretty sure that this is one Kodak moment that I will never forget.

Until next time... I encourage anyone that has even the slightest interest in exploring the option of becoming a living kidney donor to contact me, or use the resources I've included on my blog list. Educate yourself on the possibility of giving the gift of life.