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