Turning “Why” into “Why not”
Be the change you want to see in the world, lead with love, do good things…What was something I could do more besides an occasional free Starbucks to the person behind me in line? What if I could change the ending to someone’s story and did it matter I didn’t know them?
For several years I had wondered- could I donate my kidney to someone and what does that mean?
I barely knew what donating a kidney meant. The times I had heard of it were happy stories in the news, family members saving other family members, strangers becoming friends, neighbors helping neighbors. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Understandably the question I asked myself was “why” but by the same token “why not?”
Submitting that first email to the transplant center and offering to be considered to donate is a nerve-wracking experience. The “why” and the “why not” questions swirl in your head. The “what if” and the “what now” questions if you pass the initial screening and move on as a potential donor.
In August of 2019, I began the paperwork and the testing. A different experience and learning moment for me on all fronts. The kidney health world was new to me and turned out to be quite complex. With rigorous meetings and continued testing, I discovered that the transplant team’s first concern was my health and well-being post-donation. They weren’t just interested in obtaining a kidney and moving on. My health and long term future were in the forefront prior to deciding on a recipient. The deeper I delved into this process the more I was at ease and understood the complexity of the process and how it would change my story as well.
When you decide to donate a kidney it’s not guaranteed the surgery will be a success or that your kidney will work as you wish it would. I learned that oftentimes recipients may need another kidney later in life. This shifted my perspective in this journey- I wasn’t necessarily “saving” someone’s life. I was however giving a gift and an opportunity for better health. None of this is guaranteed and there is no specific time limit on it. I thought long and hard about it and no matter what the outcome was I became at peace with it. I accepted the fate of my donation and any potential recipient that matched with me.
My inner gratitude multiplied even before I knew I was a viable candidate to donate. Since the outcome was not predictable it continued to open my eyes to life and everyday moments.
The testing period proved to be exciting and sometimes disappointing. There were two other potential candidates that were discussed when ultimately the transplant team found the best match in a third candidate. In the end, it was January 2020 that I donated my right kidney to a deserving woman. Even then, we had not met; I did not know her. We met two days after the surgery- after it was all said and done. Learning about her long, hard journey made me even more honored and grateful our paths crossed. I was in awe of her life and bravery. My appreciation to be a small chapter in her life developed even more.
Prior to the surgery, I did not tell many people about what I was doing until it was scheduled. Most commended me for it but asked “why?” I wanted to answer “why not” every time. I knew deep in my heart this was something I had to do.
Given the chance to change the ending to someone’s story or at least help amend a chapter of it, how could I not accept this journey? This opportunity proved to me that feeling genuine gratitude is a gift. It opened my eyes to recognize and acknowledge the small, the large, and everything in between.
In the end, while attempting to help change someone’s story, I wrote my own chapter in my life that proved to be a life-changing shift perspective. Turning “why” into “why not” continues to inspire me and pushes me to create my own path every day.