Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Living Bank

    This past Friday night Casey and I were invited to a "Celebrate Life" event for The Living Bank.  The Living Bank is a nonprofit organization that began in 1968 with the mission to raise awareness of the critical need for organ transplant donors through public education and advocating for donors and their families.  Now it's really hard to believe that this January will mark 2 years since I began my life as a mono-kidney gal and Meredith began her new life.  Seriously, where did the time go?  When we had our surgery, Casey and I had only been dating 3 weeks and this Sunday we will be married for 6 months!  Anyways, this post is ais supposed to be about The Living Bank.  I became associated with them during the screening process of my kidney donation because I was appointed a living donor advocate that is independent of the hospital who serves to advocate for the best interest of a potential living donor.  Here are some interesting facts:

  • Organ donation can occur with a deceased donor, who can give kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestinal organs, and with a live donor, who can give a kidney or a portion of the liver, lung, or intestine.
  • Over 112,000 people in the United States are waiting for life-saving transplants, of that figure; over 90,000 are waiting for a kidney.
  • Every 18 minutes another name is added to the transplant list.
  • Every 24 hours, eight people die because suitable organs are not available.
     They honored Meredith's surgeon who is such a wonderful lady and has become quite renowned for her success in transplantation.  I saw our transplant coordinators (who I know worked tirelessly to answer our questions and make sure everything was set up), Dr. Lappin and my surgeon Dr. Katz (who happens to be her husband).  Hearing Dr. Lappin and various other speak that night reminded again of what a wonderful organization The Living Bank is and also what an indescribable blessing it is to be an organ donor.  I look back at my journey to be an organ donor, which is something I did not plan to do in my life, but one of the best things that God put in my life and chose me to be a part of.

     My story of donating a kidney is one of faith.  If you would’ve told me at the beginning of 2010, that I would be having major surgery and giving a kidney to someone I barely knew , I would probably have looked at you like you’re crazy.  I’m so thankful that God is in control, allowed me to be a part of this experience, and that my family instilled the importance of helping those in need, because it has done nothing but bless my life.  My recipient Meredith and I grew up at the same church, but because of the almost 5 year age gap our paths didn't cross and therefore, never had a conversation with one another. I knew Meredith was in need of both a kidney and a pancreas because having diabetes for over 20 years had taken its toll on her body.  Unfamiliar with the whole donation process, I figured it wouldn't be a difficult or long process for her to find a kidney donor (the pancreas was going to have to come from a deceased donor), but because both of her pregnancies resulted in more antibodies in her blood, finding a match proved to be something much more difficult. 

     I was at the point in my life where I was in a state of transition.  My life had not worked out quite like I planned, which left me lost and feeling like I needed to do something in my life. At the time, I was reading "The Generosity Factor" by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy  which talked about leading a life of significance rather than what the world would call “successful”.  So I prayed to God, please use me to do something significant that would make a lasting impact.  I didn’t specify a particular area, but left it completely up to Him to decide.  I then learned at church of the difficult time Meredith was having in finding a match and that her kidneys were failing and she was very close to having to go on dialysis.  I told myself that there was nothing more special about me than anyone else, and with the increased difficulty to find a match, that I for sure would not be, but rather than live with the regret of not knowing I could have done something and didn’t, I decided to go for that blood test and find out, so I could know for sure.  When I received that first call notifying me that I was a match, I was in such shock.  I knew then that this was the something significant I had asked God to use me to do, and when I found out that around 40 people had been tested and I was the only one to make it through the entire process, that further confirmed this is what God had planned for me. 
     I gained a new sister and another "wonderful" family from what to me was just the simple act of helping someone in need.  Not all of us I realize can be organ donors, but we can all help someone in some way.  To you it might not seem that important, but to the other person you could be changing their life.  I know that every time someone tries to help or do something nice it doesn't always work out.  If you at least tried to make their life better, isn't that the point to try to help and share God's love?  Obviously, I am very passionate about organ donation and The Living Bank, so if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  For more information on The Living Bank, take a look at their website:  Be blessed blog readers and help someone out this week!

" 'When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  'The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ " Matthew 25:39-41

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