If I had died, my organs would have been donated to someone in need. I’ve always believed in the value of organ donation. I survived, but unfortunately my kidneys did not. My family was devastated as I was left with only 13% kidney function. My only hope was a transplant.
My 36-year old baby brother, with the support of his wife and two young daughters, stepped up as a living donor. To our joy all tests looked excellent. We excitedly prepared for a transplant at a top ranked hospital near home.
One day we got the call…but not a good one. It turns out Matt is 1% of the population with multiple renal arteries. Crazy, right?! That means he has 3 arteries to his left kidney and 4 to his right kidney instead of the usual 1. The transplant team felt the risk was too high and they turned us down. My whole family cried. Then we got creative….
What if we can find doctors willing to do the high risk surgery??
With the help of Google we searched for a doctor that could do a multiple renal artery transplant on a high risk case…and remarkably we found him! Dr. Stephen Bartlett at the University of Maryland Medical Center is a microvascular surgeon with experience in highly complex transplant cases.
My brother and I flew to the opposite side of the country and on September 1st, 2015, my brother gave me the gift of life. Within a week of the transplant we celebrated with nachos containing cheese, beans, tomatoes and avocados – all foods that had been off limits. Life was going to be good again!
Today, I feel fantastic and am deeply humbled with gratitude. Like so many transplant recipients, every member of my family has signed up as an organ donor and I’ve encouraged hundreds more by telling my story.
In the words of my brother: “You’ll never again have such a profound opportunity to make this big of a difference in someone’s life.”
Many people who need transplants of organs and tissues cannot get them because of a shortage of donations. Of the 123,000 Americans currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant, more than 101,000 need a kidney, but only 17,000 people receive one each year. Everyday 12 people die waiting for a kidney. Organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life. Organ and tissue donation helps others by giving them a second chance at life.
Wearing an awesome T-shirt from my sister post surgery!
You can support the National Kidney Foundation by donating or register to be an organ donor.
I help organizations build whole-hearted communities through ‘half-assed’ leadership. We work together in three ways: speaking, consulting, and executive coaching. Step up from the ordinary…. Contact me today.
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