Looking on the positive side
David Letterman made his Top Ten List famous. Well, I decided to list my top ten reasons for donating a kidney. I’ve been very forthright about sharing the downside—like not being able to run for six weeks and the risk of complications and even death that go along with any surgery.
So let’s turn this around and look at the positives. What are the personal benefits I will enjoy by being a living donor? Here are my top contenders:
- Affirming that my parts have not expired. When I first learned about living donations, I assumed I was too old to participate. It was delighted to learn that I am not over the hill and that my spare parts are not completely worn out.
- Knowing I’m good to go for the next 10,000 miles. The screening process has involved the most comprehensive physical assessment that you can imagine. I now am assured that I am in good health. And in case you are curious, the recipient’s insurance covers all the costs associated with my testing and surgery.
- Supporting Hume-Lee. I have the greatest admiration for VCU Health Hume-Lee Transplant Center and the amazing work they perform. The staff members are innovative, committed and selfless. I am thrilled to be able to support their mission by being a living donor.
- Learning something new. I admit it. I am a closet geek. I have worked in the healthcare field for many years and love learning about all sorts of new advances in medicine. With this experience, I have had the opportunity to learn about transplants from a unique insider’s perspective.
- Reconnecting with old friends. The moment I started posting information about my transplant journey, I started hearing from old friends. Some were curious about what I was doing, many wanted to offer support, prayer and good wishes—for which I am very grateful.
- Making new friends. I’ve met many new people—from the medical professional throughout VCU Health, to individuals who have a personal or family connection to transplantation. I love making new acquaintances and forming new friendships.
- Taking a sabbatical. I started working when I was 15 years old—as a lifeguard at Lion’s Lake. And I haven’t stopped working since. Donating a kidney will necessitate stepping back for a few weeks. I will take a breather, regroup, write, read, walk and recuperate. Bear in mind, I do not recommend this as a way to get a vacation.
- Making a real difference. We’re living in scary times—political upheaval, mass shootings, worries about everything from the economy to global warming. It feels overwhelming and well beyond my control. Maybe I can’t fix the world, but I can do one positive thing to make it a little better.
- Getting up close and personal. I like to think of myself as a micro-philanthropist. OK, I just made that word up but I think it works. I am not Bill Gates, but I give what I can in terms of time and money to worthwhile causes. My kidney donation takes on special significance. One person—and his or her loved ones—will be directly touched by this contribution. And that’s even better than a tax deduction!
- Living in gratitude. I am donating a kidney is because I can. And because I can’t think of a compelling reason not to. I am the lucky one. I am blessed with good health and life circumstances that permit me to take time off work for surgery. I have a family and friends who will be there to see me through my recovery. So what will I get out of all this? The opportunity to live and act out of gratitude. And nothing could be better than that.
Perhaps you have your own reasons to consider being a living donor. If so, give me a call. And we’ll change the world for the better—one person at a time.