Never would I have thought my stolen car would lead to a kidney donation four years later. At the age of 19, I moved from Monmouth, IL to Phoenix, AZ to attend massage therapy school. Just a few weeks after my Arizona relocation, I began a frantic search at numerous dealerships to replace my stolen car. During this time, I met a dealership manager, Michael, who, along with his wife, Susan, became my massage clients. A short time passed, and I quickly became like a part of their family. In time, I learned of Michael’s health history, which involved three past kidney transplants. His transplanted kidney was functioning well; it was three years later when that all changed.
I moved back to Illinois in 2006, but have since kept in close touch with Michael and Susan between Phoenix visits and phone calls. I visited in August 2007, and learned that Michael’s health was not so well. He discussed his symptoms with the possibility of kidney failure. Our conversation led to my knowledge of living kidney donation, which would be his best option for a fourth transplant.
I flew home that trip, with the knowledge of Michael’s blood type, and the strong feeling that I was meant to be his donor. When I returned to Illinois, I looked at my blood donor card, and was thrilled to discover that Michael and I have the same blood type. I discussed the living kidney donation with my family and friends, learned of the procedure details, and felt nothing but assurance that I should donate. I called Michael to discuss this next step of our lives.
The road hasn’t been easy since that phone call, between months of testing, antibody scares, and surgery schedules. However, I am pleased to say that on December 16th, 2008, Michael received my kidney. The surgery was a success, and Michael is able to live again without dialysis. I feel so honored to have had the chance to change someone’s life in this way. Before I encountered this opportunity, I was an organ donor, but knew little about the true need for organ donation. Throughout my kidney donation, I learned just how many people feel the same.
Today, I celebrate that Michael no longer has to worry about his name on a transplant list, but there are thousands that do. Through organ donation awareness, it is my hope that we can change the length of the waiting list.
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