This is my niece. She is amazing. She is curious, fun, a wonderful mother, a great teacher, a talented photographer, a gifted writer … and an organ donor.
Her father was killed by a drunk driver a few years ago. She could have allowed herself to be swallowed up by sadness or depression or hate, instead she did this:
After losing my dad, I’ve been looking for something to give me any sense of balance. I miss him so much. He was so happy and goofy and he held everything together.
I knew it would do a lot for me to feel like I could save someone else. Maybe spare someone the pain we’ve been through. So a year ago, I called a hospital to ask about organ donation. For a few months, I quietly kept appointments testing to see if I was an eligible living donor.
Eventually I told some people about it, including my friend Brian. Days later, Brian took me out to lunch and told me that his wife needed a kidney.
And then, I was a match for her.
Yesterday morning at 7:30, I had my left kidney removed. Katie (the recipient) and I are both doing well. The kidney immediately started working for her in the operating room.
I love you, Dad. #kidneydonor #shareyourspare
I was fortunate enough to have my day free to spend in the waiting room with my sister on the day of her daughter’s surgery (funny how life works, huh?). The nurse told me that upon coming out of anesthesia, my niece’s first questions were only about Katie and how she was doing. When told how well the kidney was working for Katie she said “I love science.”
My head spins when I think about all the coincidences that occurred to make this wonderful day happen. What are the odds that her friend’s wife needed a kidney? What are the odds that she would be a match? She decided to do something meaningful and it became bigger and more beautiful than I think she even imagined.
And if you don’t believe in coincidence – get this. One of my friends, who I met on my first day of college, is a nurse at the University of Michigan hospital where my niece had her surgery. I don’t get to see her very often because, well, she’s a nurse and works long hours. I had messaged her while we waited “Hey, I’m here at the hospital what are the odds you are working?” not knowing if she was working or even what department she worked in. When my niece was in recovery my sister went back to see her and I waited, as the policy is only one visitor at a time, But after a while my sister texted me and said “They said you could come back, she is going up to her room soon.” I went back and chatted with my sister and my niece for a few minutes then the nurse – who I had barely looked at – stood up, said my name, and hugged me. It was my friend from college. Not just in the same room, or at the next bed … she was my niece’s nurse. And she hadn’t known that her patient was my niece when she had allowed me to come back. There are over 5,000 nurses working at that hospital and 55,000 surgeries per year and my friend ended up caring for my niece.
My niece doesn’t want attention. She didn’t do this to be inspiring. She doesn’t want you to contact her and tell her she’s a hero. All she wants is for you to think before you drive while drinking and to consider donating a kidney if you are healthy.
Here is the video that inspired her. If it inspires you, too, please tell me and I'll let her know.