July 18, 2017 | Posted in General
The Wednesday Rant…on a Tuesday.
For the record I am still on unsocial media hiatus and I wrestled a bit about jumping into the landfill but after a couple cups of coffee and some pondering, I gave in because of the subject matter.
A milestone marker is defined as 1. A stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point or 2. An important or significant event in life or history.
Both of those definitions describe every July 18th since 2002 for me. This is the day fifteen years ago I was able to give my daughter life, for the second time.
She was born with a kidney “defect” with a really long name that I don’t need to include here. By the time she was just year old, searing fevers indicated something was amiss. Frequent trips to the doctors office, an onslaught of meds and finally just before her fifth birthday the decision to go in and fix the problem. The subsequent phone call that brought the news that her right kidney was toxic and had to be removed- was the first time in my life I had ever really been knocked to my knees, right in the kitchen of our small townhouse.
The prognosis from the docs had her on dialysis and the transplant list within a year. Through some serious work on her belief system, a bit of time spent with an old Chinese herbalist along with conventional medications, Amanda would make it eight years before her remaining kidney started to fail. During that time she was always smiling, the early morning trips for shots, constant monitoring of meds, water and blood pressure. Her “defect” was a minor inconvenience for her, a major concern for mom and dad.
On July 18th, 2002 Dr. Hans Sollinger removed my substantial fist sized kidney that had been marinating in my body for forty-three years and placed it in the body of my thirteen-year-old daughter. The effect according to the nurses who were there when I came out of anesthetic was “incredible.”
I didn’t get to see Amanda until the next morning, when my son Andrew helped push my wheelchair into her room one floor above. Andy was only eleven at the time, but he was my staunch guardian and right hand man.
Upon entering the room, there she was…sitting cross-legged on the bed playing cards with her mom.
Her cheeks were flushed with color, eyes clear and bright, smile beaming and she looked up and said.
“Hey dad! How you doing?”
It was the most glorious sight I’ve ever seen in my life.
She had literally been born anew.
That was 5,475 days ago.
Amanda is now 28, vibrant as ever, its as if that kidney was a spark plug of sorts and she continues to simply glow. Smart, talented, driven, tenacious and funny, she lives life to the fullest.
For years I got on the stump pounding out the need for organ donation, more PSA’s that I can remember on national radio, I’ve spoken at events like the Kidney Walk in Chicago to 5,000 people and sat with just a few who were on dialyses waiting for their chance to live a different life.
I’m not posting the numbers here, you can find those out on your own. The need is great, but like everything else its not a need until it becomes a problem for us personally.
I’m in the process of a project on my friend the late, great Walter Payton that you will hear about in the near future. After being diagnosed with liver cancer and unable to receive a transplant to save his own life, Sweetness took to the media with a series of messages about organ donation and in doing so saved countless lives, of that I am sure. Now and then when I am driving in Chicago I will see at license plate with “34” on it and the words “Be An Organ Donor” hammered into the metal.
Unending thanks to Connie, Jarrett and Brittany for their dedication to the cause through the Payton Foundation.
Fifteen years have passed, Amanda’s health is excellent and every day is a gift…something that can easily get lost in the chaos of life, the perspective that if you have your health…you are truly wealthy beyond measure.
As Walter said…”Tomorrow is promised to no one.”
Become an organ donor today…and if you already are…thank you.
The life you save might not be your own…and that is the whole point.