A Living Donation Journey Part 1

This blog series reflects the journey of Deanna Mitchell, executive director for Donate Life NC, as she pursued living kidney donation. Keep in mind that every person experiences living donation differently and this series is not meant to provide medical advice or to reflect anything other than one person’s experience!

Part 1: Listening to the Universe

Many of us pray to help others, at least occasionally. We send prayers out asking for the alleviation of suffering. Or the recovery of the injured. The healing of the sick. Or compassion for the oppressed. But what would you do if you sent your prayers or thoughtful intentions into the universe and the universe tapped you on the shoulder with a little “ahem”. Because perhaps you were the answer to your own prayer and maybe you should get busy and put forth some action and stop looking for someone else to solve this thing, missy.

Well that is how it happened for me. A longtime friend posted to Facebook that her husband had polycystic kidney disease, and was going on the transplant waiting list. She asked for our prayers for his health as he navigated the 5-7 year waiting list for a kidney. So here I was, using my morning meditation time to put forward my good intentions. I was doing The Right Thing—you know, helping, but not really committing to anything myself. After a few minutes, though, I had the unmistakable feeling that someone was gently tapping me on the shoulder. And I knew exactly why. 

I thought about the living donor process all afternoon and talked to my family that night. To my delight, they were on board 100%. Sure, they had questions and wanted more details, but they were proud. I filled out the paperwork to be a donor for James, and I waited. Within 24 hours, I had a call from the Baptist Transplant Center in Winston-Salem. As it turns out, I wasn’t a match for James, but that was okay. I knew I was meant to do this. So instead of giving up, we decided to go on the Paired Kidney Exchange, a system that matches pairs of living donors/recipients with other donors/recipients to create matches among strangers and maximize good will.

A big journey sometimes begins with a small voice urging us on. I think miracles aren’t always grand acts by God. Rather they are also everyday acts by those among us, opening our hearts are understanding that we are part of the solution.

Living donation isn’t for everyone and it certainly carries some risks. This series of blog posts will follow our journey through living donation to shed some light on the process and the people who make it happen. It is in no way intended to be a directive for others, but I do hope it will be a help to those considering it.

Next up: How to know if living donation is right for you!