Kidney Failure Has New
Kidney failure has new hope and it is very much like the lottery.
What does kidney failure have to do with the lotto? Well, there are actually a lot of commonalities in both and the thought struck me the other day when the Powerball Lottery went to over a billion dollars.
It’s been a long time in the US economy since I have seen any hope, any enthusiasm and any positive energy coming from masses of people. Weighing us down are the effects of big oil, the stock market and our politicians. Never have I seen our nation so divided, but the anticipation of something big seemed to have brought out the best in large groups of people.
As the lottery figures climbed, retailers were racking up sales at $32,000 per minute across the country. Never mind that the odds of winning were about zilch. People were excited and it was evident in the lines at supermarkets, around the coffee shops and certainly lotto fever was mentioned in most everyday conversations. It was exciting, for a change. There was hope in the air.
What might this have to do with kidney failure?
Recently, The Charles and Jennie Machado Foundation was approached by an altruistic donor who wanted to speak to us about donating her kidney to one of the individuals who had uploaded a story and video posted on this website. She is a local woman, has some knowledge of the kidney patient and felt compelled to step up with an offer of her kidney.
After some conversation with the potential donor, I set up a lunch, telling the kidney patient that I was interested in speaking to her more about her kidney failure and as we are a hands-on organization, I like to get to know the people who are signed up on our site. I didn’t want to deceive her, but I also feel that part of the journey for a donor is the asking. Yes, it is an act of asking permission because though some people are very sick, they will refuse to accept a kidney from the “wrong” person.
Knowing when to get out of the way is something I have learned throughout the years. It was time to do so again.
Kidney Failure has New Hope
At the time of the lunch invitation, what the kidney patient did not know was that her future donor would be present and the donor would break the news that she wanted to donate her kidney. Seated in the back of a restaurant, the three of us were making small talk until I finally asked the potential donor to explain why she was present.
After telling her story and then asking for the opportunity to donate her kidney the room became very still. It was as though time suddenly stopped and during this prolonged pause our hearts seemed to beat in synchronicity. I could feel the hope from one woman and at the same time felt the powerful anticipation from the other.
The woman who needs a kidney has been on dialysis for seven years. Once a professional woman with a bright and prosperous future, she has been reduced to a struggle to stay alive.
Suddenly, tears flowed and the emotional gratitude rising from our union is something I will never forget. Both women were eventually hugging and just a suddenly both became unusually quiet as though words were no longer adequate to describe their feelings.
As we work through the testing and evaluation process for both women, I feel an overwhelming sense of hope and excitement. Like with the lotto, I feel the energy of optimism and an overriding faith that life is going to be better–that somebody cares enough to step forward and is willing to do something their heart expresses.
Despite the fear, the unknown and the risks of an unseen future, this donor has expressed to us that her decision isn’t so much about helping to save someone else, but also, it is an effort to stay true to herself. How would she feel, she asks, if she did not follow through on something she feels so deeply about. How would she wake up each day and pretend that everything is ok if her heart continues speaking another language?
I don’t know why people donate a kidney to others. When I try to explain it, I am lost, unable to adequately capture the meaning of saving two lives. Sure, I can recite the statistics. I can tell you that the poster face of a kidney donor is a 35-year-old soccer mom who lives in California, but what I cannot fully explain is why some people are so compelled to step forward in order to follow a compulsion seated so deep in their being. Like the DNA that runs through us, these people choose to live life on purpose. They don’t wait for something to happen, they make life happen.
I have met hundreds of kidney donors and each time I realize that these people are the lotto. They create hope and by choosing to exist on their own terms, they inspire us. I am honored to be in their presence and humbled to be a part of an organization that permits me this chance.