For anyone who doubts the power of social networking, let me be the first to tell you that you can accomplish ANYTHING if you network about it enough.
What Started It All
On May 11th I was browsing through my news feed and saw a post by someone in La Crosse that I am friends with on FB. Now, I do not actually know a lot of the people I am friends with on FB. I use the site for marketing purposes for my agency and music clients, and more than likely added this person in La Crosse back when I had a show there for Ty Brown (star of The Bachelorette and Nashville country singer).
The post said: "White chocolate mocha topped with whipped cream. Thanks Starbucks." Not super attention getting, right? But the post underneath it was. A woman named Roxanne Hamilton Guberud had posted a response, "Ann, you have over 800 friends... I am going to post this personal request... for all of you who spent money on expensive coffee this morning (and those who did not)... please consider donating to a good friend awaiting a kidney donor . He needs a living donor and also funds."
My interest was piqued. Who was this person who needed help? And how bad was the problem? I went to Roxanne's FB page and scrolled through her posts until I found a link to a news article. Article The article talked about a man named Michael Pastur who was originally from La Crosse, Wisconsin but now lived in Colorado. The article described the rocky road that Michael has been on. In the past 2 1/2 years he has been treated for two blood cancers, received a stem cell transplant, survived a heart attack and lost his kidney function. He has kidney dialysis three days a week and was being placed on an active kidney transplant list.
Could I help?
Quite possibly. I wrote back to Roxanne asking for more information and to find out what blood type Michael needed. It turned out that Michael could be matched with either type O or type B blood. My blood type is B+ so I knew that I could be put into the running to be considered as a donor. To me it was a no brainer. This man needs help. I might be able to help him, so why not try? I have always believed in being a donor and have donated platelets for over a decade now. I also helped two families have babies by being an egg donor five years ago. I knew a bit about kidney donation because my sister had looked into it a few months ago, and I knew that with my ultra healthy lifestyle I would be an ideal donor.
So what next?
I asked Roxanne to give me the information for the next steps. She provided me with the donor team's information at the University of Denver Hospital and told me to get in touch with them, and also provided steps in the process that I could expect to go through. So I placed the call to the team in Colorado and had them send me all of the paperwork to begin the screening process. The forms were what you would expect: basic info, health questionnaire, family history, etc. No surprises, nothing difficult. I completed the forms, scanned them into my computer and sent them back to the donor team. I received a call back letting me know that they were going over my information and would be in touch with me soon. My blood type and health history all were perfect, but they needed to look at some other factors.
I received a phone call from Colorado. I was told that unfortunately I was too small to be a match for Michael. What? I have a healthy kidney here... what's the problem? Apparently for kidney transplants to be successful the size of the organ needs to be a close match. I am a small woman, short and thin, while Michael is a tall muscular man. The size difference in our kidneys would have been a bad match and his body probably would have rejected it. Great. So now what?
Well, now that my size has failed me, what were my other options to help Michael? I hated for this to be the end of the road. So I was presented with option number two, which is a Paired donation. A paired donation is a sort of "pay it forward" kidney trade where one willing donor that does not match their own recipient gives to an unknown recipient who in turn has a willing donor who will match up with the first donor's recipient. Everyone wins! Okay, this sounds like a great option too. Maybe even better... save two lives instead of one, right? Yes. I'm in.
So I gave Colorado the go ahead and they sent me my lab orders. Next week I begin the actual physical process of all of this and do the labs to determine if I am approved as a donor. I am experiencing a number of emotions right now, but mostly I feel hopeful anticipation that I will be able to complete this successfully and help save Michael's life. How cool would that be? So follow me in the next few weeks and I will do my best to chronicle this entire event, what I experience, how I feel, pictures, comments, the whole nine yards. I want this to be a very interactive experience for everyone following me so that maybe someday YOU will consider being a donor too!
Love and hope....