That Time I (Hopefully) Gave Away A Kidney – Part 3 (So, How Do You Start?)

June 15, 2014

card with kidney donation statistics on it
Took this photo of this little card at one of my transplant center visits

Time for another installment of this Wednesday/Sunday night series!

Picking up from last time

I have been on a roller coaster of emotions about the process of giving a kidney. Throughout this time, I’ve never wavered in my desire to give – but the process of giving has been interesting (to say the least).

I took notes at every step of the way. So, I’ll do my best to make sure any feelings I have now don’t cloud the (what should be positive) early posts (though I can’t promise you anything!).

In regards to this blog post title – How do you start? – I didn’t know the answer to that.

I’d read some article somewhere a few years ago about a website – (which is mentioned in many articles about kidney donation). And that was pretty much the extent of what I knew.

I was really interested in giving a kidney when I’d originally read about it. Unfortunately, back then, I was still too close to the heart stuff (and embarrassingly, too heavy) to be considered as a candidate.

As I was looking for what was next in 2013 (eesh, you can tell this has been sitting in my drafts forever), I thought maybe now (or then, really) would be a time that I could be considered.

So, I did some googling. I went back to MatchingDonors. I made an account and started checking out the site.

It is the saddest website I’ve seen.

Aurora dancing to Single Ladies in a college class
The guy I choose was a dancer, so here’s a still of some dancing!

People start writing you immediately. Of course they all want the same thing – a kidney. You can’t give one to everyone.

I’m not judge and jury! Who am I to decide who “deserves” a kidney?

So I read these profiles of these people – these absolutely devastating profiles. Most people are trying to figure out a way within a picture and a paragraph to tug at the heartstrings as much as possible.

Someone might put up a picture of herself with animals. (That one obviously doesn’t work on me. ;)) Or someone will put up pictures of himself with small kids or a big family. This website is pretty much the definition of sad.

I’d look for a while, then put it away for a day or two. One day, I found this guy on there and I knew immediately – he’s the one. (Spoiler alert: He didn’t end up being a match.)

Usually, I was only looking for people going through Mass Gen or Johns Hopkins. This is my body and my life here, so I only wanted the best. But, I wasn’t married to those hospitals. I was still open to other nationally ranked, great hospitals and doctors. I looked through a lot of people’s profiles. And I found the one… in Ohio.

I found this guy who’s alone in his profile picture. (He’s not trying to manipulate me with the saddest possible presentation.) He’s just showing me who he is.

Aurora dancing on the American Idol Experience stage in Walt Disney World
I didn’t want to invade the privacy of the guy, so I put up a picture of me dancing instead of one of him dancing. 😛

(I have no idea what the right “strategy” is for recipients on this website, and I don’t judge anyone for the picture they choose. If I were sick, I’d be trying every single angle! I’m just saying that he was alone in his photo and after seeing all the other ones, I appreciated that.)

He was strong in himself, and his smile was huge. It lit up my computer screen.

He talked about how he’d been diagnosed with a disease at 12 years old, which wreaked havoc on his kidneys. And he never let that stop him!

He’s stronger than I am, and I’m wildly impressed by him. He sings and dances and won’t let anything stand in the way of his dreams. His philosophy is – “I will dance until the day I die. If that’s 20 years from now, that’s better. But if it’s tomorrow, I’ll still be dancing ’til it happens.” I admire that so much.

I thought to myself “I really (really!) hate choosing who deserves to have his or her life changed, but if I have to choose, I choose him.”

I wrote him and told him I’d love to be tested to see if I was a match. When I got a reply, it was from his mother. He was in the hospital with complications from his disease…

This is where I’ll pick up next time.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?