In October I was invited to take part in a ceremony honoring all of the living donors at UW Hospital from the previous two years. Craig and Sara traveled to Madison that day with Mike and me. As I looked around the ballroom in that hotel that day, it occurred to me that everyone was there for different reasons. Some had donated to family members, some to friends, and some to total strangers. There was even one guy who had donated to his ex-wife! Talk about sacrifice! They spoke of donor chains and paired exchanges, of which there were many in this group. As we each got called up one by one to accept our award the audience applauded every single one of us. It was truly emotional! We each received a medal of honor, along with a certificate from Governor Scott Walker thanking us for our donation. Many recipients were in the audience as well and it struck me that you simply could not tell the donors from the recipients in most cases -- that's how healthy everyone looked! I again got to see Chris, my transplant coordinator. Earlier this year I tweeted a picture of Chris and me to UW letting them know what an incredible employee they have in her. She told me that they recognized her at a department meeting due to my tweet. I was so glad to hear that! She deserves it!
The other honor I received this year was my name on the living donors wall at UW Hospital. It took them awhile to get it up as the wall was being redone. Just last week my family and I were in Madison and stopped by to take a look at it. I still get emotional when I read the words that UW has posted on that wall:
I don't tell you about all of these honors to show you what a great thing I did. Although I am totally honored that UW would choose to do these things for me, I would have donated anyway. Donating a kidney was one of the most rewarding and humbling things I have ever done. I know God had it in His plan for me.
Life has been busy for the past couple of years and I have somewhat neglected my original plan -- that is to speak of my journey to groups who want to hear a great story. I want to bring awareness to organ and tissue donation, but also bring glory to God for what He did to orchestrate this event. My work as a donor mentor is very rewarding, but it is done after the donor already made the decision to donate. We now need more people to make that decision.
Tonight we attended a benefit for Kameron Pryne, an 11 year old boy in our community who is in need of a kidney. The need for donors is great. Kids like Kameron and adults like Sara need a chance at a better life. If you(or your group) want to hear more, please contact me!