My Arizona friend and guest blogger, Karen Diehl, has a timely, valuable message!
Read-on and Be Inspired! Barbara
Thanks to Strangers I Have a New Life!
Do you know anyone waiting for an organ transplant? I’m fairly sure you or someone close to you does. How can I be so certain? Right now in the United States alone, there are close to 120,000 people on a waiting list because they need kidneys, hearts, lungs, corneas, pancreases, or some type of human tissue. According to UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) “Another person is added to the list every ten minutes. Approximately 3,000 patients are added just to the kidney waiting list every month. Organ donations do not keep pace with the need. On average, 22 people die each day while on the list waiting for a donated organ.”
How do I know this? Up until five months ago, I was one of those people waiting for a kidney! For almost 20 years I have been challenged by serious health conditions. They started with a diagnosis of Sjogrens Syndrome (an auto-immune disease) and culminated in a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) more commonly known as kidney failure. Even though I started dialysis (four hours a day, three times a week), my heart knew that I would not spend the rest of my life on dialysis.
After eleven years doing one kind of dialysis or another, my husband of 47 years and I realized that if I were to have a chance of living till our 50th wedding anniversary, it was time for us to seriously consider a kidney transplant as a treatment option. While my health was deteriorating, my love for life and a deep appreciation for it were increasing exponentially. I applied to one of the three local transplant centers. It took months for me to complete the myriad of medical tests that were necessary to determine that I was healthy enough for a transplant.
Given the statistics quoted above and the scarcity of donated organs, you can understand why transplant centers diligently work to be sure potential recipients have a reasonable chance of living a relatively long life after a transplant. I met the health requirements and was officially put on the national transplant waiting list.
In Arizona people on that list wait on average 5-7 years before receiving a kidney. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when ten months after I first applied for a transplant, a nurse called to tell me they had a kidney for me. I was speechless. The day we had hoped and prayed for was here, right now, tomorrow!
My donor was a 50-year-old person who was brain dead with no chance of recovery. The family made the difficult decision to take their loved one off life support. With great sorrow and equally great compassion for those on the organ waiting list, they generously agreed to donate every organ that was viable so that other people might live. I was only one person whose life was saved because of that family’s unselfish generosity. They gave the gift of life to people they’d never met while grieving the loss of someone they had loved dearly.
Not nearly enough families make the decision my donor’s family made. The shortage of kidneys and other organs frequently leads family members of individuals with ESRD to opt to donate one of their kidneys to speed up the process for their loved ones. They realize that God created human beings with two kidneys so that they could live on one and give the other one away. Other people are so moved by a story on the nightly news about a person needing a kidney that they decide to donate one of theirs so that a stranger might have a second chance at a full life.
If you have ever considered donating a kidney, either as a living donor or at the end of your life, please follow through on that decision. Go to the National Kidney Foundation’s website (www.kidney.org) to see how you can be paired up with a person waiting for a kidney. Be sure to check the box on your driver’s license that indicates your wish to be an organ donor. At the same time, let your family know that you want to be a donor. Your kidney may save the life of someone just like me.
I am a 68-year old wife, mother, grandmother, spiritual teacher, and a lifelong Truth seeker. I find pleasure in quilting, reading, planning landscaping projects with my husband for our beautiful yard, and spending quality time with my grandchildren. While recovering from the transplant, I was given a new vision of the purpose for this next stage of my life. The vision is unfolding and becoming an online teaching ministry—WiseWomenWorldWide Making a Difference: Adventures with the Universe.
I love life and know I have been immensely blessed by a stranger’s gift. In honor of my donor and her/his family, I have dedicated the rest of my life to making a difference in the world for all women ready to dive deeply into their own spirituality.
Every day I say “Thank You” to God, to my donor’s family, and to my body. I pray that more people will consider donating a kidney so that one day no one will have to die while on the national waiting list and so that someone sitting in a dialysis chair twelve hours a week will be free to live her or his life to its fullest. Like I am.
Karen Diehl, MSW