Tag Archives: Kidney Donor

Gratitude! Three Year Anniversary ~Kidney Donor

As I contemplate my donation just three years ago today– it was a time of loss, a time of growth and a time of giving. It was also a compilation of how I had lived my life up until that point. So often, when we are going through difficult times it’s hard to imagine anything beyond the hurt and pain.

I intuitively knew  I needed to get the focus off myself.  Donating my kidney certainly helped me accomplish that!

A new day

A new day

I believe so much of this is around timing, while every aspect of my life had been interrupted– I found by giving at this magnitude, I was able to open up and learn a new way of being!

Today, I have a greater appreciation for life and for others. I no longer feel that I am in this world trudging along and worrying about what is next. Instead I feel an intense amount of gratitude for nature and people along with a deep sense of knowing that everything is as it should be.

I feel connected.

On August 16, 2012 I donated my kidney on behalf of my brother Tim at UPMC in Pittsburgh. Although I was not a match, we were part of this amazing circle where  eight of us exchanged kidneys. Therefore my kidney went to NYC, Tim’s kidney came from Philadelphia, etc. I loved being part of this bigger circle and often wonder how everyone in doing today.

There are so many families who have loved one’s that are in need of support– whether it’s organ donation, loss of health, or situations that impact our lives. I believe we are here to support one another and to make our lives bigger than our own.

I am forever grateful for all the support and encouragement I received from family and friends.

Wendy

Loving over judging – Why do we compare?

organ and tissue donation

“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Dali Lama

So why do we compare? Does it give us an opportunity to justify our own actions? Or perhaps make us feel worthier than our counterpart or even more so– to separate ourselves from others.  We all judge on some level and some more than others.  Families can often be the worse. We are often programmed to compete, to compare, and criticize and it can cycle through to the next generation.

How can we stop this behaviour? First, we need to be aware of our thoughts and what is going on within ourselves. We often judge others simply because of our own personal experiences.  Haven’t you had times in your life when you were extremely good and other times when you were not nice, maybe even terrible?

If we can have the awareness that in life, sometimes we are up and other times we are down. And that life is like a wave of not just our emotions, but also based on our experiences in this world. Perhaps we would be less inclined to point the finger at others. Why must we judge so harshly, particularly when change is constant within all of us?

I love this quote  “Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease“. Dali Lama

So true, it takes energy to be angry, to repeat your stories and think negatively. While it gives us energy to care for others and to be grateful for what we have.

You and I are in control of our emotions in any given situation. Why not choose loving over judging?

Wendy ~

 

 

 

Back on track – Kidney donor

The pain I felt waking up from surgery forced me into a state of  feeling the present moment. In this space of not looking forward nor behind is where I eventually found my souls true joy.

After donating my kidney I felt as though I had a clean slate. I was acutely aware that I had let go of baggage particularly around feeling worthy in the world I inhibited. My problems didn’t go away, but my sense of self changed immensely. I felt happy, lighter and open to life’s challenges. I had been putting emotions and life’s chores on the back burner far too long.

Over the next year I found a sense of joy that reached me to the core. No longer did negative events in my life shut me down. Instead life flowed easily throughout my days. Not naming things bad or good, I stopped telling my story and just appreciated. I can remember my Father saying, ” life is not easy, it’s hard”.  And now, I find life for the first time easy.photo

And then..

As we all know change is imminent. We cannot nor should we stand still. Nothing stays the same, particularly if you are like me who gets energized by growth.

As I enter this next chapter, I find myself challenged. In a new city where home is a hotel room and doing interesting work with new challenges to open my mind. In life, it can be both bitter and sweet.  I get energy from learning, growing and being around people who are intelligent, kind and passionate. However, the slightly bitter side is selling my home, leaving my friends and family who are so far away and of course the unknown.

A change of self can sneak up quickly, particularly when we are in the fast lane.  It’s here that I find myself feeling weathered, alone and emotionally drained. I then look for what is wrong and complain to myself, “I miss, I wish, I want” and it’s then that I realize I am heading in the wrong direction. These thoughts do not empower me, they in fact drain me.

I quickly re-connect and that does the trick. I simply turn my complaints into what I appreciate. These opportunities to grow, to love and to be challenged and to trust that I am exactly where I choose to be.

I reflect and realize its simply my attitude that has changed and I find the joy in each moment flowing through my veins and I am happy once again.

Back on track.  Wendy

Choices in life’s defining moments! Living Kidney Donor

It’s hard to imagine that a loss of this magnitude would leave us at choice. I remember writing at the timeI must find a way to feel whole again and let go of the pain, so that I can feel the joy of having Kyle in my life“.

My son Kyle and I

My son Kyle and I

It was January 7, 1984 and I was 24 years old when my first son Kyle was born. He was beautiful with blond hair, blue eyes and barely 3 pounds. I remember feeling so happy that I had a part of carrying this beautiful baby into the world. As a young Mother I felt unsure and didn’t particularly like or know myself. However, when Kyle was born, all of that changed.

We have all had loss in life and often these moments define us. For me, it taught me about love and choice. I quickly realized after my son passed away 3 weeks after birth that I had serious life decisions to make.

  • How was I going to let this affect my life?
  • How would this influence me as a young women?
  • Would I live in fear?
  • Would I be open to love?

I chose to keep Kyle close and to honor the time we had. To not question what I couldn’t answer and to trust in life.  I have learned to be a more loving person and a better Mom to my two sons. I found a new path in life and got away from things I wanted and focused on moments I had.

What choices have you made from life’s defining moments?

Wendy

About Wendy:  Another defining moment! This blog began as I looked for an outlet to write about my experience in donating my kidney on August 16th of 2012.  I went through the surgery and came out stronger and more grateful that I was able to donate on behalf of my brother Tim.

 

Giving

Donating a kidney has been a catalyst to finding joy in my life. Part of this journey was staying at the family home just two days after donation.

At the family house I connected with a dozen or more families who had a loved one in need or were receiving an organ. My own situation seemed trivial at the time. The worries that kept me up at night suddenly felt wasteful. I found myself feeling present and seeing the world entirely different. 

I love this excerpt from David Whyte’s poem “Giving”.To give is to make our own identities more real in the world by committing to something specific in the other person and something tangible that could represent that quality. To give is also to carry out the difficult task of putting something of our own essence in what we have given”.

Giving takes practice and commitment in seeing the other person. Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen? Some of the stories I hear from friends this holiday season are about simple moments of giving. Someone that cares and takes the time to listen with humility, or small acts of kindness from strangers.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

On this Christmas Day I find myself grateful for having my grown children under the same roof, the health of my family and friends and the love that we share. The blanket of snow that covers the ground and the sun that pours in through the window makes a beautiful day.

My wish for everyone today is to take a moment and appreciate the gifts in your life.

Wendy

 

 

Marketing yourself in a social world. Free whitepaper for people in need of a organ transplant..

I was reading a post tonight about a young women asking for a kidney for Christmas. Many of us ask for a piece of jewelry or perhaps the latest gadget. Yet so many others wait for a phone call that will change their life….. we found a kidney and its a match!

Did you know that one in 10 American adults, more than 20 million, have some level of CKD? Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal said Doctors often don’t test for kidney disease, and patients may have no symptoms until they are in crisis. Yet kidney disease is fast becoming a dangerous health threat, and one of the most costly. The most common test screens urine for an excess amount of a protein called albumin, often the first sign of kidney damage.

Every week on various forums I see people sharing their stories of giving to another and it’s really beautiful.

Still 13 people die each day while waiting for a life-saving transplant, nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the kidney waiting list each month. National Kidney Foundation

How can you help?  

1. Get educated

Marketing yourself in a social world.

Marketing yourself in a social world.

2. Find someone to advocate on your or friends behalf

3. Be aware that you can register on more than one Kidney Paired Donation (KPD) program.

4. Download our white paper….We took the concept of “finding a donor” in today’s social world and created a plan! Some of our content includes; creating a strategy, how to write a press release, ideas for raising awareness, the role of an advocate, developing your message, and so much more. Please take a moment to sign up and download this free paper and share your feedback. A special thank you to my friends, all marketing gurus!  

  • Gini Keck who painstakingly proofed this paper over and over again,
  • Rebecca Johnson Menedez who contributed “how to get your message to the press”. Writing a press release.
  • Mary Beth Lowery for your well thought out suggestions.
  • Shelly Dinan for all your contributions in writing and consult!
  • Mike Sukhenko for your amazing design and layout

How about a challenge? As the holidays quickly approach, I challenge you to do one small thing every day for another human being? Share your stories and spread the word!

Wendy

As the poet David Whyte wrote “Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future. To be courageous, is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences”.

About Wendy – A kidney donor myself a little over a year ago I continue to feel gratitude. Although I was not a match for my brother, I was still able to give through the kidney paired exchange program. Obviously this was a huge benefit to my brother and he is doing well, However, I did not expect the gift I would receive in return! read more

Sitting quietly may not result in organ donation – living kidney donor

Sarah Murnaghan,  a 10 year old girl who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis and whose efforts to qualify for an organ donation spurred public debate over how organs are allocated, underwent a successful double-lung transplant on Wednesday. Source: Comcast News.  Read more on Sarah receiving a lung transplant!
 
Many people nationwide understand the importance of raising awareness about organ donation.  If Sarah’s family had sat quietly by her bedside without fighting her story would be very different and likely one that none of us would have ever heard.Sarah-Murnaghan
 
I often see requests from men, women, and children in need of an organ and using social media as a way to get the word out  in asking for a donation. Social media can be an excellent way and their are many success stories utilizing facebook to find a donor. I recently read that one in 10 American adults, more than 20 million, have some level of CKD (chronic kidney disease).  Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 
Why do some recipients appear to have a large group of family and friends ready to participate while others quietly die waiting for an organ. Why are some families and friends inclined to do whatever it takes and others are not? I know in my family when my brother Tim needed a kidney, he shared very little information.  He didn’t tell us he needed one because he was uncomfortable asking us — probably because he was the oldest of six and was never in the position to ask for help. 
 
I took it upon myself to find out more information and then got tested.  I was disappointed to find I was not a match and thought that was the end of it – until a good friend of mine Dr. Brian Justice mentioned that I could donate my kidney as part of an exchange program.  In a paired donor exchange, or a kidney swap, two kidney recipients essentially “swap” to willing donors. I had no idea this was a possible option! The hospital didn’t mention it to me nor did my brother Tim.
 
For my family, like Sarah’s, this story has a happy ending.  I was able to donate a kidney through the National Kidney Registry (NKR) and my brother in turn received one and is doing great. All of this happened within 24 hours of being approved on the NKR!
 
What is the answer for those waiting for a life saving organ donation? For Sarah it was getting the attention of the media, changing a law and getting on a list.
 
But what about those who need an organ– a living organ is often the best solution.  I urge you….
  • Find an advocate-  it can often be easier for someone else to tell your story than yourself 
  • Shout it from the rooftops – reach out to the press, social media and tell your family & friends
  • Tell a compelling story – tell your personal story.
  • Arm yourself with as much information as possible about the organ donation process and your options.
  • Attend a workshop for example:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/LivingKidneyDonorsNetwork

 Wendy

 

Life’s assumptions – living kidney donor

The light on my car dash reads 15% Oil Life!  I wonder how often we react to information that is displayed in front of us and how it affects our daily life? I purchased a new car that now has about 5000 miles on it, the message on my dash last week read 20% oil life. So I stopped at my local garage station and asked the mechanic to check my car’s oil, after checking it he said it was fine. That didn’t make sense to me since the message on my dash said I had little oil life left. I explained to him that it was important for me to know since I was taking a trip that weekend and didn’t want to damage my car. They assured me the oil was fine. dont-make-assumptions

A week later the message on my car’s dash read 15% oil life and I now have an orange light on my dash and I’m worried.  So here is what’s going on in my head. Did I purchase a lemon? Will I consistently have problems with this car? What if I drive the car and their is no oil in it, will the engine die? Can I make it the two miles to the garage station? Maybe I should  pick up a quart of oil and drop it in my engine to be sure I am OK . Yes, believe it or not it’s all going on in my head. This time I went to a different garage and asked for help. I got out of the car to watch what they were doing and sure enough I got the same response that the oil was fine. The mechanic explained that the light is on to let me know that I will need an oil change soon and not that I needed oil!

Well that added unnecessary stress to my day, but in was small perhaps ten minutes! Where are we adding stress in our relationships and in everyday circumstances?   Consider that our subconscious mind is the part of your mind responsible for all of your involuntary actions.  Source: M. Farouk Radwan, MSc.  I think of our subconscious mind as narrating every moment of our life and it’s time to take control!

Miguel Ruiz who wrote the four agreements says “Don’t make assumptions”.  How often do we make assumptions in our life with our health, our partner and in general? In the book the four agreements Miguel Ruiz writes:

  • Find the courage to ask questions
  • Communicate often and clearly to avoid misunderstanding, sadness and drama

Ask yourself today.

Are you making assumptions with  your health, your partner, your life? What’s going on in your head and how can you change the messaging?

Quoting Dr. Wayne Dyer: Change your thoughts, Change your life.

With gratitude,

Wendy

Connection & Coincidence – Living Kidney Donor

Today I experienced the most amazing story of connection! I have often said  “we are all connected” and with that  I mean whatever is happening in our life today or in our past has probably been experienced by others.  Our connection makes the world a smaller, more intimate place of human bonding.  This incredible set of circumstances really bears that out.Hands

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have been interviewing people who have donated or received a kidney for a book I am writing about human kindness, awareness and connection. Some of the people I am interviewing are from my own donor exchange and others were referred to me through friends.  I was introduced to Stephen through my close friend Barb, who’s brother had served with Stephen in the Army.  They had been stationed in Germany.  Stephen and I spoke briefly a few days ago about scheduling a time to talk. Then, after reading my blog he emailed me that we had both donated on the same day just 8 months ago! I thought that was a nice coincidence.

Stephen and I had decided to talk by phone Sunday morning and I was anxious to hear his story. You see, Stephen chose to donate his kidney to a complete stranger.  On two separate occasions while leaving church Stephen felt in his heart that it was his calling to donate and his wife Jill agreed.  After doing some research on line, Stephen reached out to a man in Chicago and a women in the state of Washington explaining he wanted to donate a kidney and was looking for resources to get started.

Harvey from Chicago answered him immediately and gave him links and information to get him started. He began to build a relationship with Harvey and did not hear back from the women in Washington for some time. When he did hear from her she apologized explaining that for some reason Stephen’s email did not get to her right away.  She gave him some information similar to what Harvey had shared and she mentioned that she was an advocate for several people in need of a kidney – and one of them was Harvey.

Stephen was not aware that Harvey was in need of kidney, and immediately made a decision to donate to Harvey,  feeling it was meant to be.

Another coincidence is that Harvey had emailed me the day before my surgery (after finding my blog) wishing me good luck and telling me his surgery was scheduled for the same day. I remember thinking about him that Thursday on August 16 and hoping everything had gone well. I find it extraordinary how we are all connected.

  •    Harvey emailing me the day before my surgery and introducing himself.
  •    Meeting Stephen who turns out to be the donor for Harvey
  •    All three of us receiving our surgery the same day
  •    Stephen contacting an advocate in Washington and then referring Harvey as a donor
  •    Stephen being a long time friend with one of my closest friend’s brother.
  •    And ironically it was Barb (my long time friend) who drove me to Pittsburgh for my surgery.

Coincidence?

It’s amazing to me how we are connected.  Who would have thought someone who sent me a random email 8 months ago that I would be meeting his donor today and that would come from a close friend!  Truly enlightening.

At times in our life we can feel so alone and wonder where we fit in. Our differences can often feel like separation to us however when we share — we then realize we are not separate, we are not alone.  Today I wake up knowing that we are truly connected.

Feeling as one.

Wendy

Please join us on facebook!

Attitude – Living Kidney Donor Journey

Friday evening I attended one of my favorite yoga classes of the week. In this class I can usually find myself letting go of my day, my week and my thoughts. When I am in this space I tend to move into a feeling of gratitude which is almost magical where every fiber of my being feels joy.  I let go of my fears and my worries and I am focused on the present, the here, the now.  

Wendy, Audrey & Allegra

Wendy, Audrey & Allegra

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Max Planck, Nobel Prize-winning physicist  this is so true for me this past week. Last Saturday I had gone for a bike ride and then became sick and passed out later that same evening and I became overwhelmed with new fears. Then on Monday morning I read a question a member posted on a forum who continues to feel exhausted a year after her kidney donor surgery and wondered if anyone else had the same experience. Within 53 minutes 12 people had responded with the same experience including myself.

The evidence of the post along with the 12 responses backed up my own personal fears. (I was attaching myself to someone else’s experience that I know nothing about) I began to think that I would never feel completely healthy.  My energy was low for the next few days, I felt exhausted and it was difficult to get things done. We all have our own unique experiences;  however I personally feel that our attitude can fuel how we perceive a moment, a memory and life in general.

I often think of bike riding as a metaphor for life, when I am tackling a large hill and I am confident that I can make it up the hill–  the ride is much easier. However, when I am not in a confident state I find myself negotiating….” If I cannot make it up the hill, I can get off my bike and walk the rest of the way or if I do make it up I won’t have the energy to go the distance  and I will need to shorten my ride or even worse I am not good enough, I am not strong or healthy enough”.  By the end of the week I had completed two long bike rides and four yoga classes and I feel great!   I listened to my body, took care of myself and didn’t over push. All of this has left me feeling more confident in moving towards perfect health. 

This week was a great reminder that attitude is a choice and I get to make that choice in every experience.

Cheers to a beautiful productive day!

Wendy