When we think of generosity, we often think about giving money or possessions. What if someone asked for one of your body parts? That’s a whole different kind of generous.
Rebecca began dating a single man, Jon, who had a three and a half year old son. Apart from all the other challenges that single parenthood entails, Jon and his son, Brian, had an extra difficulty to face. Brian had been born with only one working kidney due to a blockage in his ureter. He had surgery as an infant to fix the ureter but one of his kidneys was irreparable. As you can imagine, he had many health challenges. When Brian was eight, Jon and Rebecca married. Just a few years later, Brian had his first crisis: complete kidney failure. The next few years were a nightmare for the family. Brian’s only kidney was losing function rapidly. He now had to go on dialysis, live on antibiotics and finally was put on the donor list to wait for a new kidney.
Jon was tested and his kidney was a match, but it wasn’t in the best condition. Rebecca was tested and, even though she wasn’t a blood relative, she was also a match. Rebecca is like me, she passes out when she gets needles, she never put the donor sticker on her driver’s license, and she didn’t give blood regularly. But, this was a no brainer. Brian’s life had been difficult on so many levels. Rebecca had watched him living his life in doctor’s offices, going in and out of the hospital, feeling ill and in pain so much of the time. He also suffered emotionally. It’s hard enough feeling like you fit in in high school when you’re healthy, but when you can’t participate in so many of the things that your peers are doing, it’s impossible.
Just this past May, Brian and Rebecca went into surgery. The difference in Brian was almost immediate. His energy improved. He became happy and communicative. He’s not in pain all the time and is beginning to feel like a normal 19 year old guy. How about Rebecca? After the first month of recuperation, she just feels like Rebecca. “It’s such a beautiful process” she said. “I gave up something I don’t even miss to give him such an amazing change in his life.” The only repercussions for her are that she has to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay away from Ibuprophen. I, actually, think that is an added benefit. Anything that motivates us to take better care of ourselves will probably pay off with greater health dividends in the long run.
What’s Rebecca’s message? “I want people to know that being a donor is a wonderful and rewarding thing. It can be scary, but talking with other donors is so helpful.” Rebecca spoke with several people who had given kidneys before she had her surgery. It allayed many of her fears because she knew what to expect and understood the process. Now that she’s on the other side of it, she wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, she said, “I wish I had more kidneys to give. It makes such a huge difference in someone’s life.” Brian and Rebecca have always shared a birthday; she’s always felt like his Mom, and now they even share some DNA. “He may be 45% Jon and 45% his birth mother, but now there’s 10% of me in there, too.”
If you are thinking of becoming a donor and would like to talk with someone about the process, Rebecca would love to talk with you. You can contact her on Facebook.