Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My mentor

Hi kids. You can read my new post over on 'Pay it Forward', with the Times Union bloggers, here. 

I have chatted about my living kidney donor mentor, Cara Yesawich, in the past here, and felt it was important to include her in my conversation about my donation journey on the Times Union's site. She was a very special presence in my life then, and is still now.

Cara Yesawich, my living kidney donor mentor.

I encourage all prospective donors to reach out to another donor as they embrace their experience. I know I couldn't have done this without her, and I truly believe it can enhance your journey in more ways than one.

Feel free to contact me if you should want to find more resources in the community. Having a buddy to hold your hand as you walk through this process can make all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

etsy kidney find

PKD Awareness Double Kidney Pendant Necklace 

Love this.

Had to share this piece with everyone. If you're not familiar with etsy, you need to be. I could spend hours on here. I could also spend thousands of dollars on here. Love this site for unique gifts - for me.

What's even nicer about this piece is that the artist will donate $25 to the PKD Foundation for every necklace sold. I'm gonna get me one.

Monday, April 9, 2012

pay it forward: intrigue and information

Please stop over and see my most recent post at

I'm sharing my journey with readers on the 'Pay it Forward' blog, where you can also read about some great people doing some great things. Mary Kenney has been generous enough to let me share some of the real estate there, and I'm excited about this opportunity.

Thanks, Mary!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

pay it forward

I'm pleased as punch to announce my presence on the's 'Pay it Forward' blog!

I have been an avid reader/viewer/snooper of the Times Union's (TU) blogs for many years now and never really thought that someday I would be a contributor.  This past summer, I was contacted by the TU to contribute to their many bloggers online. I was up to my elbows in martinis alligators, and knew I didn't have time to dedicate to more work. Times have changed, and when they contacted me again in early 2012, I decided this was something that I not only wanted to do, but needed to do.

I will be joining Mary Kenney, on 'Pay it Forward', where I will share my story about my donation, along with some other sarcastic commentary I feel I need to vent weekly to those that are bored enough to visit. Mary and I share the same philosophy, the same cravings for margaritas, and a helluva head of hair. She's the total package and I'm blessed to have made this connection with someone so special. Plus, she's smart. I love smart people.

So, give us a try and tune in often to see what kind of goodness and genuine concern we can bring to the table.

My introductory post is up today, stop in and see me! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

harvey mysel needs a kidney

In April of 2009, I was only in the beginning stages of researching kidney donation. I was having a tough time finding specific information I wanted, and needed, to know. As I mentioned in my first post on this blog, I found a man by the name of Harvey Mysel, on Facebook.

Harvey Mysel

Harvey was the one that I credit for providing me with the much needed information on how to donate a kidney. I am forever grateful for his time and patience. He is a kind soul, and is passionate about his foundation: The Living Kidney Donors Network.

Harvey needs a kidney. I can't do his story justice, but what I can do is help to advocate for him to find a kidney. Please take a moment to read his story, and understand how you can help Harvey find a donor....

Harvey Mysel – Kidney Transplant Update March 1, 2012

The transplanted kidney I received in 2007 has been damaged as a result of the BK Virus I contracted. While the BK Virus is rare and terribly unfortunate, recent studies show that patients who have had the BK Virus do well when re-transplanted. To read more about the BK Virus go to:

I would be honored if you would serve as an advocate to let others know about my need. To do that you’ll need to know a few key things about being a kidney donor:

We are born with an extra kidney. Studies show that kidney donors live a normal, healthy life with only one kidney and were no more likely to suffer kidney failure. Go to: to read a study from the “New England Journal of Medicine” about kidney donors’ health after their transplant. (An interesting fact to realize is 1 in every 750 people are born with one kidney and their life expectancy is the same as someone who is born with 2 kidneys.)

As a result of the new anti-rejection drugs, the “matching” of donor/recipient has become much easier. For situations where the donor/recipient are not compatible, “kidney paired exchange” programs allow these donors to be paired and matched with other incompatible pairs. To learn more about the matching process go to: For more information about kidney paired exchanges go to:

I’m blood type A, and can receive a kidney from a blood type O or A. Interestingly 85% of the population is one of these 2 blood types. The (+) and the (-) after the blood type is not a factor for kidney transplants. If a donor has an incompatible blood type, a kidney paired exchange program becomes an option.

Organ donors need to be in good health, without high blood pressure, kidney, heart, liver or other major health issues. For more details on donor qualifications go to:

Donating a kidney involves a major surgical procedure, and the donor is usually in the hospital 1- 3 days.  The recuperation period is anywhere from 14 - 21 days for those with an office job, and about 6 weeks if the individual’s work entails more physical labor. The majority of the procedures are done laparoscopically, with 3 - 4 small holes for the instruments. A small incision is made to remove the transplanted kidney. Medical expenses relating to the transplant are paid by the recipient’s (my) insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield). Donors could be reimbursed for lost wages or travel expenses.

If you would like to learn more about the donation process, please contact me and I would be happy to discuss it in detail with you.

I am working with Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. In 2010, they performed 167 living kidney transplants, ranking them as the #2 hospital in the U.S. You could contact their Independent Living Donor Advocate, Jami Hanneman, MSW, LCSW, CCTSW 312-695 0828 who could answer questions (confidentially) and coordinate donor activity.

Please feel free to pass this information along to your family members and/or friends. Telling them about my situation will raise awareness and the potential of finding a compatible donor.

I greatly appreciate your support and concern.


I ask that any of you in the donor community with a blog or website to please share Harvey's story. Exposure is critical in increasing the pool of available donors for Harvey, and I can't think of a more worthy recipient.

We love you and pray for you, Harvey.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

60-person chain of transplants

The National Kidney Registry has facilitated an unprecedented
60-person chain of kidney transplants.

The New York Times has done a beautiful and thorough piece on this, and I encourage any prospective donor to read the article. Again, another example of how important non-directed donors are in yielding larger numbers of kidney transplants annually.

Click here to read the article in the New York Times.

Kudos to Garet Hil and his team at the National Kidney Registry!

Friday, February 17, 2012

national kidney foundation - survey

Hola, donors!

Just received some information regarding a survey available online, for all living donors.

Please continue reading the global email sent out by the National Kidney Foundation, and consider participating if you want your voice to be heard.

Dear Living Donors,

The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and MetroHealth Medical Center, in partnership with the American Society of Transplantation (AST), have developed a survey to find out more about the needs of living kidney donors.

We are asking individuals who have donated a kidney in the United States to participate in the survey. The purpose of this survey is to ask you to share you opinions with us so that we can better understand the needs of living organ donors. We hope to learn more about your experience as a living organ donor: what went well and what can be done to improve the experience of future living organ donors.

The survey will take between 20 to 40 minutes depending upon how much information you want to share.

For more information, or to take the survey, please visit:

Thank you,
Jennifer Martin
National Kidney Foundation

See you soon...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

jogging to julia

I'm well rested. I should be, since it's now winter and I think the last time I posted a personal update, there were still leaves on the trees. I say I'm rested because I've been tired, for about 4 months now. Exhausted is more like it. Life is good, but I've been frustrated with a few areas of my life and my brain hurts from thinking too much. I have this ability to endure physical exhaustion much more than the emotional kind. I can work nonstop on my feet for days without a break, but ask me to find a solution to a life problem, and I cave until I can get another 9 hours of sleep.  Let's just say that I'm in transition now. I have made some decisions that I feel are going to be positive and challenging. Gotta have that challenge, right? Challenge is knowledge and knowledge is growth. So, stay tuned for updates.

If you've been following my journey through 2011, you all know that I made a decision to run a half marathon before the end of the year. On October 30, 2011, I finished the Los Angeles Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in 2:20:51.

Sweaty, and stinky I'm sure, minutes after crossing the finish line.

My hand-crafted race day shirt, worn proudly.

The race was awesome! I had such a great time. I can still recall so many moments on the course. Probably one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in my life. Right up there with the county fair. I'm not gonna lie to you, it was difficult and there were moments after mile 11 that I was asking myself why in the hell I chose this challenge instead of a hot dog eating one. But, I powered through and got my second-wind once I caught a glimpse of the finish line and the beer truck.

As I pounded the pavement that day, thoughts of meeting Julia, my recipient, filtered in and out of my head. Excited, anxious, curious and a teeny-tiny bit nervous. I can't say I had any expectations. It's a waste of time, as far as I'm concerned. Like anticipating when Derek will pop the question. I have no doubt he will, I just need to be patient and wait until he can rack in another $20 mil before we settle down.

I was staying in L.A. and she lives approximately 2.5 hours away. We mutually decided to meet at a Chili's restaurant and have a late lunch, so her daughter could join us after school. So, on Halloween morning, I schlepped a gallon of Starbucks coffee and my GPS all the way to Bakersfield, CA.

Me and my big hair arrived early (I'm OCD), and impatiently waited for her to arrive. My hands started sweating and I suddenly started feeling that ickiness in my tummy that would hit me every time I had a blind date. What if she doesn't show? What if she backs out at the last minute because she is having second thoughts?

Ten minutes later (how dare she be late) she walked in with her adorable daughter. We hugged and promptly took a seat in a booth in a hard-to-find, quiet corner. I perused the menu for something that wouldn't give me gas, or add an extra 5 lbs. to my delicate and fragile frame. What I really wanted was a margarita. That would have been a nice Kodak moment to capture, right? Me, my margarita and my California kidney. Conversation was very generic and initially focused on what else, Halloween. We chatted about her daughter and her school, the community and naturally - the weather. I decided that I was not going to lead the conversation, but instead take a step back and let her ask the questions. After all, just having this opportunity to be face-to-face with the woman that now has my kidney inside of her was more than I could ever ask for. Firing questions at her regarding her personal life was in my opinion, none of my business.

She shared much more with me about her journey, her illness, her time on the list, her dialysis treatments and her frustrations of waiting for a donor. She asked few questions, but one of which I didn't expect.

"What made you decide to donate?"

And so, I shared my story, which really isn't too much of a story. "Because I can. Because I wanted to provide someone in need, with just a little nugget of the good health that I was fortunate enough to have every day I wake up. It really wasn't a big deal, Julia."

She looked at me, and paused as tears fell down her cheeks, "It is a big deal, Angela. It's a very big deal. It's a big deal to me, my family and my daughter. You have completely changed my life."

And as she said that, it was then that I realized what I had done. This woman sitting across from me in a Chili's restaurant, in Bakersfield, CA is living with my kidney. Very surreal.

We spent 2.5 hours together, sharing stories of our families, our challenges and our goals. It was getting late, and time for her daughter to begin her trick-or-treating, so we decided to part. As we got up from the table I happened to look down at the floor and noticed a dragonfly tattoo on her foot. I asked her about it, and she told me that she loves dragonflies and collects anything with a dragonfly on it. I immediately thought of my blog, and the illustration featured on my page that I created in the summer of 2010.

Everything happens for a reason.

Julia and I, October 31, 2011 - Bakersfield, CA