Friday, May 7, 2010

I Have a Story And It Goes Like This...

I have been wanting to start a blog for quite some time now.  Mike always tells me I have too much to say...but of course I don't think that is true.  So he suggested perhaps I should just write it all down.  I think maybe he is just glad I will have someone else who might listen to me.  So, welcome to my blog.  I hope you enjoy it....or at the very least I hope you don't fall asleep while reading it.

Why did I choose now to start a blog?  Well, I am right now going through the most incredibly interesting experience.  I have chosen to be tested to donate a kidney to a friend whose kidneys are failing him. Mike and I have known him and his wife since we moved to our town almost 10 years ago as we bowled with them and their daughters. The story is incredibly long, but I am going to touch on it briefly here for you. Bear with me!!

My friend mentioned to me about nine months ago that he was going to likely need a kidney transplant. I immediately heard a voice in my head say, "tell him you will give him one of yours"(that voice was my first sign that this was the right thing to do). So I said it! He of course laughed and said he could never ask me to do that.  A few months ago he told me that his kidneys were getting bad and he had been evaluated at the Froedtert Hospital Transplant Center in Milwaukee. His daughters cannot donate to him for varying reasons.  Other people had offered to be tested, but had not followed through.  He and his wife did not know how to ask someone to be a donor.  They are humble people and felt it would be such an imposition. Again, I told him that I would give him a kidney. I just felt such peace in saying that to him. He then told me that he could not ask that of me. I told him that I didn't recall him asking me -- I only recalled me offering! He got tears in his eyes and told me it would of course mean the world to him, but he could never pay me back. I told him that if I was going to do this, he could never worry about paying me back. I asked him how to go about being tested. He told me to ask his wife because he wasn't sure!  Typical man, right? :-)  She told me she would bring me the information. On Easter Sunday I decided to tell my sister Wendy about it. Later that day after we had left her house, Wendy happened to be reading their city newspaper online and she came upon a story about a girl who was donating her kidney! That seemed to be my second sign. Later that week I saw his wife in Wal-Mart and reminded her to bring me the paperwork. Well, she came in to my office, but did not have the packet of info with her. I asked her why not and she got a bit teary.  She said they just didn't want to push me to get tested by bringing in the info. They were afraid I wasn't really serious and that I might feel pressured by them. So I told her to give me the coordinator's phone number and I would call myself so that they would not feel like they pressured me. I called Froedtert  and they sent me a health history to fill out. I filled it out and sent it right back. Then I didn't hear anything right away. The next week on Wednesday my friend's wife called me to say that he was just at Marshfield Clinic and they told him if he had a potential donor that person better hurry up and get tested because his kidneys were failing quickly and he would have to go on dialysis. I called Froedtert and it turned out Marshfield Clinic had also called them and they were about to call me. The coordinator(Elise) who I needed to talk to was on vacation, but her assistant Dina told me she was gathering all of the info together and Elise would call me the next week after the nephrologist(kidney doctor) had a chance to review my history. That weekend Mike and I and the boys ran to Marshfield where I had an afternoon meeting for some optometry business. Our plans were to go to Hudson's for lunch and then they were going to drop me off at the Clinic for my meeting. As we were coming into town Josh asked if we could go to Culvers instead. We agreed since we were a little pressed for time. On the way to Marshfield Mike and I were quietly discussing my desire to donate my kidney(which he is completely supportive of by the way!!). When we got to Culver's the very first thing I saw when I walked in was a brochure that said, "BE A DONOR FOR LIFE....DONATE A KIDNEY!!" As we looked around every single table had a sign on it that said the same thing. I could not believe it. (Turns out an employee at Culvers also needs a kidney.) I took that as my third sign -- and a big, bold one that was hard to miss!  I briefly told the boys about the plan as I felt this was the perfect opportunity to do so. The next week Elise called and explained to me what I would need to come to Froedtert to do -- basically a complete day of testing, physical, EKG, chest X-ray, psychological exam, bloodwork, etc. She told me that they only do these tests on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. She then told me her assistant Dina would call me back in a little while to schedule the appointment, so I should take a look at my calendar. Well, this is a busy time of year for us at the Clinic and my Tuesdays and Wednesdays looked crazy, but I did see that strangely I had very light days on May 4th and May 5th. A short time later Dina called me and we were talking and then she said..."well, my first openings are TUESDAY, MAY 4th and WEDNESDAY, MAY 5th"!! Yep, my fourth sign!! She also said that normally they do these tests at 8:30 a.m.(which probably would have made us have to stay overnight), but on May 5th they could do it at 9:30 a.m. -- that would give us enough time to drive down that morning. I then decided I better tell the rest of my family. I also wanted to discuss it with my sister Jennifer since her son Logan has a congenital liver disease for which a transplant may someday be needed.  Of course I wanted to be available to help him if needed. Jennifer assured me that Logan is doing well now and may never need a transplant.  Also with the liver the first choice for a donor is usually a deceased person.  She reminded me that this guy needs a kidney now, so I should go ahead and get tested. My parents were also very supportive. I was very nervous to tell them because I thought they would think I was crazy. But they did not and promised to help out with the boys as much as we needed. Then, a week ago Thursday my parents had Jennifer's youngest son Kirby at their house. I was planning to go to lunch with Mike that day, but at 11:30 that morning I called my dad to tell him I had his glasses in at my office. My mom asked if maybe I would like to have lunch with her and Kirby. I called Mike back and he told me to go ahead and he would just stay home for lunch. When I called back to say I would go, I talked to my dad and told him that Mom should pick a place.  She picked the Olympic Restaurant in Wisconsin Rapids.  I then asked my dad what he was doing for lunch and told him he should come along.  So he did. We were 1/2 way through our meal at Olympic when my kidney-deserving friend and his wife walked in the door! I introduced them to my parents. If my parents and I hadn't been there they would not have had a chance to meet before I got tested. My fifth sign????  It sure seemed that way.  Of course my friend made a joke that if he got my kidney he was afraid he would take on my personality and never quit talking! Pretty bold for a guy who needs my kidney -- ha!

I have felt from the very first day that this is absolutely right. I am going to be surprised if I am not a match because of the signs I have had, but I know God has a plan! I truly believe He has orchestrated this every step of the way. I don't want it to become about me being the "hero". I just want to do whatever is needed to share what God has blessed me with -- good health...and an extra kidney!! What else would we have an extra one for if it wasn't to share??


  1. 'Very cool Jill. We are proud of you. Your mom's cousin Brian

  2. Thanks Brian! I appreciate the comment!