So, mom was cleaning out your dresser and found some “cherished gems” that you had kept in your top drawer. Items included cards, pictures, etc from over the years that obviously meant a lot to you. She divided up what came from who and handed us our stack. Imagine my surprise when I saw what was in my stack! You had kept the letter I wrote to the family that donated your second kidney. In that moment, I had the answer to one of the most important questions that have been lingering in my mind the past three months. . . . . . .Did you know how much I really loved you? How much I respected you? How much “being your daughter” is a privilege and an honor for me? I know I irritated you, and heavens knows, you could be equally as infuriating, but it never affected my love and admiration of you.
I know now that if you BELIEVED that was my heart in the words of that letter --- then you truly did have a glimpse of how much I love you and how your life and leadership was the bonding glue of this family. I love you. I miss you so much this week. I think it’s the rain --- but I was getting ready for bed the other night and I told DJ, “I miss his VOICE. I just want to HEAR his VOICE.” It was a voice that commanded attention or compliance. It was a voice was easily decipherable between pleased and “not so pleased.” It was a voice that could be MORE than reassuring --- it was truly a calming element that everything really IS going to be ok. Man, it’d be a nice voice to hear today!! I love you and miss you so.
LETTER TO A DONOR FAMILY:
September 1, 2008
I’m not really sure how to start this except to say from the bottom of my heart Thank You. I am the daughter of the man that received a kidney from your family’s organ donation in May.
It was an amazing experience. I got a call at 4:00 a.m. on Mother’s Day morning from my parents saying that a perfect match had been found and the process was getting started. I was scared, elated, tired and had a whole realm of emotions. You see I had gotten that phone call a year ago. This is the second kidney my dad has received in a year. The first one was a perfect match, would get him off of dialysis, and be the “light at the end of this 3 year tunnel” we all wanted. Well, surgery went great, the kidney had kicked in and two weeks later --- bad news. There’s a 1 in 1,000 chance that a human body will have an adverse reaction to one of the anti-rejection drugs and actually attack the new organ….. well,welcome to the 1 in 1,000. It’s been a heartbreaking year. A perfect kidney, new technology, and we’re the one that doesn’t follow the mold. He was very sick, ended up back on dialysis, emotionally and mentally drained and ready to give up. Going back on the transplant list was a very depressing day. We never in a million years that lightening would hit twice in the same place. He honestly was doing his dialysis to maintain life, but he wasn’t “plugged in” to life anymore.
Then the call!! God is an amazing God and I don’t know why, but He found it in His grand plan to give my dad not a second but a THIRD chance at life. This organ is transplanted and FULLY assimilated to his body. His creatinines level with this new kidney is that of normal humans with two kidneys of their own. It is absolutely amazing and a miracle.
I’d like to take a minute to introduce you to the man that your family has given another 10-15 years of life. He’s an amazing man, my dad. He’s a blue-collar worker who has worked so hard all of his lives to support his family no matter what the hours were or how many were required. At the age of 27 his wife of five years was diagnosed with breast cancer. They fought with all their might the next 10 years to conquer it, but God had a different plan. He was a single dad to my brother and me and then met his next wife --- a wonderful woman who has never left his side through the last 20 years.
He is an outdoorsman. He loves to hunt and fish and loves having a dog by his side. He’s a handyman that can fix almost anything or teach himself how to. He’s spent his life as a mechanic making sure people have dependable, safe, and affordable transportation to equip them with the tools they need to support their family.
He is a man of wisdom, deep love, true compassion and heart and life dedicated to God and helping and serving others. He is an elder in our church and ensures (with his wife) that if someone is in need of something that that need is met. Now that he is retired, he volunteers with his small group from church to help families with sick children, help low income families ith necessities, and makes sure his wife, kids and our families are always taken care of.
He is my sounding board, and one of my chief irritants ;), my mentor, and one of the few people in my life who offers me unconditional, unfailing love no matter what I’ve said, done or not done. I love this man more than anything. I’m not stupid. I know in this life a child’s parents are supposed to pass before them, but I truly can not fathom what my life will be when that day comes. And now, thanks to you and the sacrifice of your family, I have quite a few more years before I have to face that.
He is a fantastic grandfather. I am the mother to three of his four grandchildren and because of this kidney, he took his seven year old grandson fishing for the first time this summer; he’s taken his five year old grandson to lunch so they can have chicken nuggets and French fries. He has traveled three hours to the home of his son and daughter in law to baby-sit his other grandson for the evening so they can go and enjoy an adult night. And his 22-month-old granddaughter thinks Poppa is the best thing since sliced bread. Thank you for giving us those memories.
We are now 90 days post surgery and he is doing FABULOUS!!!! His creatinines are at 1.0 (the number of a normal person with two functioning kidneys); he has joined a gym and is working out and getting stronger every day. He is taking his son and son in law (my husband) on fishing trip this month.
I’m also very aware that as we are 90 days post transplant and re-acquainting ourselves with life without dialysis or renal disease, your family is facing the first set of holidays without a loved one. We are completely sympathetic and broken hearted to that. As I said earlier, we lost my mom when she was 35 and we all know what it is like to be on the side of losing a dear, irreplaceable loved one. I think that’s what makes our gratitude and sincere empathy so genuine. We know the feelings, thoughts, emotions, etc that you are facing. We’ve been there. I don’t know if, for you, knowing that you’ve saved a family from those emotions for now, is any consolation or helps ease the pain. Please know our hearts, prayers, and thoughts are completely with your family as you deal with this time. We are keenly aware that for our family to rejoice, another family hurts. We do not belittle or ignore that. We care, pray and embrace you for all that you’ve done and all that you are going through.
I cannot say thank you enough. There are no words that will fully relay what my heart is feeling. Your decision, your loss, your selflessness has offered other families a chance at life and time and memories. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I will forever be grateful to you for every single additional moment I and my children have with my dad (their grandpa). I will never forget your sacrifice or forget the anonymous family that made our memories possible.
All our love,
A recipient’s daughter