A transplant recipient once said to me, "Fasten your seat belt, it's going to be a rocky road. But, you never know where your new kidney will come from."
AND THAT IS THE TRUTH!
My miracle is that I received a kidney from a friend in my Ski Club. His name is Boz,
a nickname for his last name, Boswell. Somehow, I was able to find my needle in the huge barrels of hay, although there were many times I wanted to give up.
This is my story of how it happened and why I founded kidneyforU.
My kidney function declined very slowly over 20 years, and I was told I would need a transplant within 10, then 5 and finally, within 1 year. One of my three sisters was a match; however, near the final stages of her testing, we received the devastating news that she was not a suitable match. At that point, my doctor told me that I had 3-6 months before I would have to be on dialysis. I was in total denial!
MY WAKE UP CALL!
This is where my journey really began. I made up my mind that I absolutely did not want to be on dialysis, and I set my heart on finding a living donor. My first step was to send out letters to friends and family, asking everyone to pass it on to their own networks. I was afraid to make something so private become public. I was afraid to talk about this at all. But, I had to learn how. A few people were tested, but none were a suitable match. Not only is it difficult to find someone who will say yes; but it is a huge challenge to find someone in overall excellent health.
Time was ticking, and I had no idea what to do. Despite the fact that I was totally overwhelmed, somehow, I knew I had to keep my inner faith and determination going. This was an extremely difficult time and I found myself questioning if I would ever find that someone at all. All my wells had dried up. I was very lucky to have my partner and caregiver, John, by my side to help me get through this time.
I happened to see Boz when I went up to the Ski Club, intending to ski on Halloween, my annual debut in costume. He wanted to get tested, but I didn't hear anything back for a long time. There is a lot of protocol about asking someone to be tested and I didn't want to pressure him.
(Who knew he was waiting for me to call him?)
It was time for me to expand my search. Since I had no one to turn to, I had to create my own path. Since I had no advice, I had to make up my own. I trekked all over, putting up flyers and postcards. I formed teams to send out letters to my High School, college, religious organizations, my camp, gym and my Ski Club. This started to pay off as e-mails started to flow in from everywhere, and I had hope again!
And then, five women from my gym offered to get tested, women I didn't even know! At that point, Boz told me that he was being tested, and if it all worked out, I could have his kidney! WOW! I told these women that I had a potential donor, but if he didn't work out, would they still be willing to be a donor? They all said yes. I was so blessed. But, for several months, I heard nothing. Had he changed his mind? Had he passed the rest of his tests? Had he been ruled out as a donor? Finally, two months later, I got a call from him. "Hello kindred spirit, what are you doing on March 16th?" In true Boz fashion, he wanted to wait until he had a surgery date lined up and everything was set to go!"
OMG!! I HAVE A DONOR!!
The Bottom Line
This experience has made it clear to me that many others facing are facing the same questions of survival and need help. How I wish that I had a Transplant Buddy! I have been working with 9 people who are suffering with this difficult and complicated task of finding their living donor. I have discovered this is truly my passion and something I want very much want to continue. Together, with other Kidney Partners, we can help more of you find your life-saving donor. Think about what good we could do for others!
It was my donor, Bionic Boz, who said "Save a life? No Brainer!"