This morning, as I was traveling back to the Twin Cities from Rapid City, South Dakota, I had an unusual encounter.
I was just drifting off to sleep as our early morning flight pushed back from the gate when I heard two people sitting directly behind me introducing themselves. A woman was explaining that she was on her way back to Jacksonville, Florida after attending her brother’s funeral. He had passed away after a struggle with polycystic kidney disease, and she was sharing that she and almost all of her siblings had inherited the disease from their parents.
To my surprise, the gentleman she was seated with proceeded to share that he knew about PKD through his own struggles with kidney disease and had just four years ago received a transplant that freed him from dialysis.
What are the odds?
I found it so remarkable that I was compelled to put aside my desire for one last nap before returning home to my active nine month-old and turn around to introduce myself.
We chatted for the remainder of our short trip back to the Cities and I learned that Ed, who lives in New Jersey and was transplanted in Florida, had lived tethered to a dialysis machine for four years before receiving his transplant. He has a genetic disorder called IgA, but hadn’t learned about his disease until the time of his diagnosis much later in life.
All Ed knows about his donor is that he or she was a teenager. He expressed great thanks to the people who give the gift of life through donation and for those of us who spend our days educating the public about the life-saving decision each of us can make. In sharing his story he was hoping to convince his seatmate to consider being listed for a transplant if her disease continues to worsen.
One thing he shared struck me in particular. In talking about his journey he said “When you’re on dialysis you’re living to die; when you receive your transplant you’re dying to live.”
Ed talked about all the people he saw at his dialysis clinic who never received the transplant they needed and how unfortunate it was that more people aren’t registered as donors. In fact, these two individuals suggested we get president-elect Obama to put his support behind donation and ask Americans to register.
Anyone have a connection to our new commander-in-chief?