I visited an old college friend/roommate yesterday in Lawndale, CA. I hadn’t seen her since she graduated. Her name is Heidi and she lives in San Jose, CA now. However, Heidi has been in Southern California for a coupe weeks because she just donated a kidney to her friend Neva and the operation was done at USC! I couldn’t believe it! What an amazing gift to give. I told her it’s the greatest present one can receive. “You have officially ruined Christmas for Neva forever,” I told her.
I couldn’t wait to visit Heidi and ask her what the experience was like for a donor. I know what receiving an organ is like but to give, wow! I received my two lungs from one cadaveric donor meaning he passed away. I was curious to know what it’s like to give away 1 of 2 kidneys while still alive and healthy. We talked for three hours atraight, hardly taking a breath! It was great to here about being on the “otherside” of the transplant process.
I asked her what her mind frame eas and how she came to decide to give such a wonderful gift. Apparently after all the tests for, Heidi was #1 on the listfor best possible donor matches. USC called Heidi first to see if she wanted to do it and then Heidi got to call Neva with the good news! What an amazing phone call that must’ve been. I remember getting that call from a nurse but to have your close friend call you and say, “I’m going to save your life.” Pretty cool.
I asked Heidi’s friends and family reacted to her choice. She said that initial reaction from most was, “Are you sure? Do you realize what you`re committing to?” Of course they asked this out of love and worry but it is still a little shocking.
I was surprised when she told me that she agreed to the transplant before she even told her husband, Pete. Poor guy found out on facebook! “I didn’t know how to tell him,” she said. When Pete read the post and asked his wife what was going on and if he had a say in it, Heidi responded, “If I don’t do this, my friend is going to die. How can I just sit back and wtch that happen?”
“Wow,” I said “You can’t really come back from that. How do you respond to tht in any other way than… ok?” So Heidi committed to the transplant her friend will have years/decades now to celebrate!
Heidi told me that a lot of people have since been calling her a saint or an angel and how awkward and untrue that is. I told her, “You’re right, you’re not a saint, you’re not an angel, but you did do an extraordinary thing and I’m happy and honored to kow you.” Not everyone is that giving and gracious. It’s acts like these that make me smile and realize the Heidis of the world make this a better place to live in.
Here’s a picture of our reunion. Transplant buddies for life!