CINCINNATI - When someone asks me if it was hard to decide to donate my kidney, I never hesitate to tell them, "No." I think I always knew I would do it if I were a match.
That probably goes back to my deep belief in organ and tissue donation. I've always felt there was no point in taking it with me when it could save someone's life.
But a live kidney donation is something a bit different. It wasn't something I'd planned for or thought about. Ever.
But like I said, when someone told me, "you're a match," I had already made my decision.
That isn't to say that I didn't have moments of doubt. That I didn't wonder, "What am I doing?" That would be a little strange to never doubt your decision. But inevitably, I think of the good my little kidney can do.
Susan, the recipient of my kidney, has been dealing with diabetes since she was 10 years old. She hasn't let her health get her down, but as someone who has lived an incredibly healthy life, I wonder how much it may have held her back. Stopped her from going on some overnight with her girlfriends in grade school, or changed what she wanted to do with her life.
Now that diabetes has destroyed her kidneys and without my kidney, she would go on dialysis and ultimately a donor list. It doesn't mean she would never get a kidney, but it means it might take months or years. And when dialysis requires you to be at the hospital or clinic for 4 hours a day, 3 days a week, it changes you, I think.
Susan is young, 43 years old. She deserves a life where she feels good, really good each and every day. She's gotten so used to not feeling well, I'm not convinced she doesn't realize how sick she is.
And I gave her my kidney. It required a short stay in the hospital, the patience of my family and yes, there was some pain for me. But really, that's it. I recovered. I survived. I will live a full and happy life on one kidney. Outside of a small scar, nothing will change for me.
Everything changed for her.
I decided to do this with the support of my husband, my children, my work and my friends. I decided instead of asking, "Why?," I wanted to know, "Why not?"
Everyone is different. I'm not special because I said, ‘Yes,' but I'm glad I did. And maybe it will make someone else ask themselves, "Why not?"