Tomorrow marks a big milestone for me. It is an anniversary of tremendous importance.
Ten years ago, on April 11, 2002 I received a phone call that changed my life. A nurse was calling to tell me that there was a kidney available for me for transplantation.
Up until that point, I had spent close to ten years on dialysis with one unsuccessful transplant six years previous. That attempt to bring normalcy back to my life and untether myself from a machine that cleaned my blood three days a week for four hours each time had proven to be an ordeal.Two months spent in the hospital. An immediate rejection following my release and then eight months of being on and off dialysis until it finally failed for good left me with painful memories.
As I heard the words spoken to me over the phone, “We have a kidney for you, Aaron,” I sat speechless. Then I broke down in tears. My coworkers all sat looking at me and asking me what was wrong.
Was I strong enough to subject myself to the same ordeal I had gone through just six years earlier? Then I remembered something. This kidney that was being donated to me was coming from someone that had passed away. A cadaver. This person had made a choice. When they died, their organs and tissues would go onto help others live.
“I’ll be right there,” I tearfully replied and hung up the phone.
I turned to my coworkers and told them what was happening. I was getting a second chance. They all hugged me and congratulated me. I thanked them and told them I would keep them apprised of what happened. They wished me luck and I quickly made my way to the hospital after calling my Mom and Gram and let them know what was going on.
The surgery was a success. I woke up to my new kidney happily producing urine and cleaning my blood all on its own. No more being hooked up to a machine. No more sixteen gauge needles in my arm. I traded a lot of old meds for some new ones.
My life changed that day for the better. I became a new person.
It all comes down to one person’s generosity though. An anonymous person that gave a gift to me that is the best gift I have ever received. I will never know who that person was. I won’t know if they were male or female. I won’t know if they were my age or younger or older. I won’t know where they lived. They could even be someone I had seen before in passing.
One year post-op, I wrote a letter to the family of the person who donated me their kidney. Due to regulations, I was forced to give the letter to the hospital and they would, in turn, make it available to the family of the donor, if they even had one.
I never heard back from the family. I’d like to think they read it and saw my gratitude conveyed in the words that I wrote. I’d like to think that it lessened the loss they felt for the person who passed away, knowing that part of that person lived on in me.I would urge you all to share this post. I would urge you all to become donors if you are able.
I would urge you to take a moment of silence with me and remember the people that gave me such selfless gifts.
HE MAY NOT KNOW JUJITSU OR HAVE A ROCKET-PROOF CAR, BUT HE HAS SAVED NEARLY 6 MILLION LIVES THROUGH PHILANTHROPIC ACTIVITIES.
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