The Journey of a Becoming a Living Donor
I am not sure when I first thought about donating my kidney. I grew up in Pittsburgh where the late Dr. Starzl practiced and performed the first liver transplant. Dr. Starzl was known as the “Father of Modern Organ Transplantation”. Maybe this is how it came about? Maybe it was always instilled in me to be good and to help others? Actually, I really cannot tell you when the idea popped into my head.
The idea of helping people has always been in my DNA. I was a Candy Striper and loved volunteering in the hospital and helping patients from admission to the operating room. I was really proud of my “lab jacket” with the candy cane stripes on the collars and my nameplate. I looked good. I looked even cooler when I was assigned to the OR and got to wear scrubs. Even today, my favorite garment to wear is a scrub shirt. Just ask my wife Erin and my kids Michael and Rachel. I traded my scrubs in for a uniform, which I have worn for the last 37 years in the great profession of Emergency Medical Services (EMS): the last 17 years as the Chief of Cary Area EMS. It is here at Cary Area EMS when the thought of donating my kidney returned.
Now over the years I have mentioned donating my kidney and even sent a few emails (I have been part of the Bone Marrow Registry for close to 30 years) but it never progressed. I was talking to one of my Paramedics who mentioned that one of our firefighter partner’s relatives needed a kidney but died before one could be found. The relative was 24. What struck both of us was that we did not even know one was needed. We both said we would have volunteered to be tested. Our conversation continued about transplants and being a living donor. We Googled living donor and kidney transplants and The National Kidney Foundation was the result. Then we both went on our way to accomplish our daily duties.
Later during the day I returned to the National Kidney Foundations website and started reading. That evening I talked to my wife about donating my kidney and she was 100% behind me. She also stated that I have talked about this numerous times during our almost 30 years of marriage. Now it is up to me follow through. Well, I have started the process and will blog about my experience hoping to encourage more to become living donors. Stay tuned.