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Stories of hope

Michael: Yes you can (be a living donor)

In June of 2015 in Brooklyn, New York. our cousin, Father Ed Smith, was celebrating his Jubilee of 50 years a Priest. There were two tables of family and so many parishioners.

My cousin Jackie, who was sitting with us, said, “Our Cousin Brenda, sitting with Father Ed, is in dire need of a kidney.”

I asked how come no one told us? What can we do to help?

I decided to go talk with Brenda, who I probably hadn’t actually seen in more than forty years.  We spoke, and I offered my kidney. Although I knew nothing of kidney donation, I just wanted to help.

The process began with paperwork of my medical history to a hospital in Manhattan. After a few weeks, though, it was determined by the kidney coordinator that I was not able to donate on account that I had a kidney stone a few years prior. I told Brenda of their decision, and she was very thankful to me for trying.

A few weeks passed with me still concerned about Brenda’s need for a kidney. I called Brenda and asked if we could possibly go to a different hospital. Brenda said absolutely, and we started talks and testing with a different hospital. After many weeks of testing and retesting, it was determined we were not a perfect match.

But we could become a part of a kidney pairing.

I agreed and on December 10, 2015, our cousin Brenda received her kidney from a wonderful lady in Minnesota name Yael. My kidney went to a recipient in Manhattan name Michelle. Our Cousin Brenda was free from dialysis and free to travel to visit her newly born grandson. Unfortunately, she passed away just over a year after transplant due to other medical conditions.

I received a letter from the hospital social worker a year later saying he found my recipient’s letter. I reached out immediately and we met Christmas week at Rockefeller Christmas tree. We have been friends since and have celebrated our kidney anniversaries several times.

I have tried my best to make others aware of kidney donation; as for me I was totally unaware of kidney donation until June 2015. I have had my share of medical setbacks, but am able to keep moving forward. Please make yourself aware and consider helping someone in need of an organ.

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Kidney, Living donor, Stories

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