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Making the List

I’ve always loved lists. I take pleasure in creating grocery lists, to-do lists, and more recently, a list of questions for the doctor. Lists are kind of my jam. So since the whole my kidneys quitting their day job thing happened, the word “list” has taken on a whole new (less fun) meaning….

When some people find out about my kidney disease, they immediately ask “Are you on ‘the list’?" This is the list to get a kidney. When people who are organ donors pass away, their organs are given to the next person on the list…sort of. The formula for who gets an organ is much more complicated. It involves overall health, age, blood type, how compliant you are, time on the list, and other factors. There’s also a type of “grading” of kidneys and matching to the “grade” the recipient needs. Again it is more complicated than that. There’s even a process to get on the list. I was given a checklist of appointments to complete before being added to the list only a few months ago.

I shared my “acceptance letter” with family and friends. What I didn’t share was the sadness and overwhelming anxiety I felt about my place on the list. The thought of my life depending on someone calling me and saying “come to the hospital right now we have a kidney for you” is stressful. Also with my O + blood type, I could be on the list for three to four years. As I’ve mentioned I like to plan and make list. This is nothing I can prepare for. That’s a long time to wait for a call. What if I wanted to travel? What if I miss a call?

So can someone in your family give you a kidney? That’s always the next question. My dad and my brother both have the same blood type as me. However there is way more detailed testing that goes into matching living donor kidneys. Unfortunately, due to antibodies, there was a high risk of my body rejecting their kidneys. Some friends have been tested too, but none have been a definite match yet. But what happens if they are a match? How can I repay someone for saving my life? How am I going to feel if my friend has a complicated surgery?

Recently I went to an event hosted by lifelink. I met a family who'd lost their loved one. I fought back tears as a woman tearfully told me of how her son’s organs helped save several lives. I could tell how much she missed her son, yet she still seemed to have joy. Her son’s heart is still beating. Earlier that evening her sister prayed with me, a complete stranger. That night reminded me that we’re all family. We’re supposed to help each other. So if I have a loved one that gives me a kidney or if someone else’s loved one passes on and leaves me theirs, what happens is what is supposed to happen. It is literally impossible for God to make a mistake. So I’m taking it day by day and trying not to think too far ahead. This is something I can’t plan so I’ll leave my list-making skills for fun things (See my next posts). 😊

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