Christine saved my life on September 22, 2008. Now, Christine was neither a best friend nor a family member. She was a co-worker who had heard my story of needing a life-saving kidney transplant and decided she would undergo all of the testing to determine if she might be a match. She never said a word to me about her efforts, willingness, and desire to donate one of her kidneys to me during any of the many conversations we had about my health since I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) in April 2007 and retired from my job.
But on August 19, 2008, Christine phoned me to say that she was donating one of her kidneys to me. She then gave me three dates in September from which to choose so that we could meet at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore for the procedure. I will never forget that day: the joy I felt, how blessed I was and telling Christine repeatedly “thank you,” “thank you,” “thank you.” But the words “thank you” never seemed to be enough to truly express the depth, breadth, and scope of my appreciation for her sacrifice to help another human being.
Over the past five years, Christine (pictured right) and I have become very close. We dine, talk, laugh, joke, cry, worry, and discuss life’s options and challenges together. She changed the course of my life and I am ever so grateful. One day, I finally asked Christine what I could say or do to show her how much the choice she made meant to me and my family. Her response was: “just take good care of my Christine kidney for me!”
Many transplant recipients don’t have the opportunity to meet or get to know their donors like I have had a chance to do. But, I believe that any person who receives the gift of life can touch the joy that I feel just knowing that someone thought enough of another person’s life to allow them to save and improve the quality of life for others. No matter if your donor is living or deceased, it’s important to say “thank you” as often as you like and are able. But, it is more important to “just take good care of the gift of life that was given to you.”