Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Social Media Discovery

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. 

The Verdict

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?

The Alternative

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....



  1. Laura.
    I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks after reading your blog entry. I was one of Mike's classmates that has met up with him recently on facebook and went out to visit him on Valentine's weekend this year. If this paired donation can work you will be a living angel in Mike's life. My prayers will continue in hopes that each step in this process is a success and Mike ends up with a healthy kidney. You're a very selfless person and the world needs more people like you. Thank you so much,
    Lisa D.

  2. Lisa-

    I was raised with faith, and I fully believe that God will protect me and Michael through this process. We have to do what we can because you just never know when or how the tables will turn. As a parent I can't turn my back on the opportunity to help someone, when I know someday it could be my child or sibling that will need the help.

    So inch by inch we do what we can, if we can, right?

    Love and hope....


  3. Laura,
    This is the best "cry" I've had in a long time. Thank you for answered prayers and your faith in action.
    Mike's sister, Andrea

  4. Laura, I will keep on hoping that this all works out. Thank you for your response to my post. Your respect for life and love of mankind is evident. We will be in touch. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have spoken with Michael, and he is very touched. Roxanne Hamilton Guberud.

  5. Laura, Thank you for your very generous act of kindness in helping Michael. What a wonderful spirit you have and I am sure you will inspire many to follow this, and in the process help many people. The power of networking is amazing, and we are thankful it brought you into our lives and bring hope to a special friend of ours. Mary Bardill Olson, a friend and classmate of Michael.

  6. Andrea, Roxanne and Mary-

    You are all very welcome. I will be going to pick up my lab supplies tomorrow and start the preliminary testing this week. I plan on documenting every step along the way, so watch for pictures and info coming soon! I know how important Michael is to each of you, so keep having faith that something here will work. If you want it badly enough it has to happen, right? I believe that to be true.

    Love and hope...


  7. Laura, were following along. Michael is also. We are all very guardedly hopeful. Thank you for all youre doing. Go Laura Go !! Anything you may need or or have questions about dont hesitate to contact me. Roxanne

  8. That goes for me, too. Prayers are with you for your labs. A little levitee...when I did a 24 hour urine I filled 5 boxes and it took a gurnee to get it to the lab. Obviously, I am not a good donor. May yours go better and lighter!!! Andrea Pastur Bushek

  9. Laura, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know Michael, but I, too, am a dialysis patient. Unfortunately for me, a live donor isn't an option because I also need a pancreas. I know how many people die while waiting for a transplant, so live donors like yourself, save not only the life of the person who receives your kidney, but you whomever receives the kidney that will now be available to those on the list.

    You are saving not only Michael's life, but improving the lives of everyone Michael has and will be a part of. In addition, you are offering hope to all those in need of a healthy kidney. May God Bless you and all your fellow organ donors!

  10. To the person who posted above, I wish you the best and hope you get a transplant !!

  11. I just wanted to say thank you and God Bless you for what you are doing. I am a dialysis nurse - what you are doing is a selfless act of love/kindness. I hope all goes well for all involved. You are truly an amazing person to do this for someone you do not even know. I hope more people read and follow you through this journey and help someone live. Much love,

  12. Great Job Laura! I am thrilled to see others realize that it is not that difficult to donate and recover from the surgery. I gave a kidney to a young girl (I did not know her or her family at the time but we are all friends now) almost 2 years ago and can say that it was a wonderful experience. To realize that I could help someone else that so desperately needed it was..... beyond words. I used to live in Fort Atkinson WI and my 3 kids were all born in LaCrosse WI. I now live in Colorado...parallel worlds? Laura, feel free to contact me if you have any questions/comments/fears/etc. I am more than willing to share and listen.

  13. Thank you everyone for your comments. The best thanks you can give me is to share my blog with others so that we can get more people donating. Pretty amazing process! And I love hearing all of your stories as to how you are connected with donating as well.


    ~ Laura Lawrence

  14. This is the first time I have ever posted to a blog. I wanted to let you know my story:
    My dad is on the transplant list currently for a kidney. I am 33 and wish that I could donate my kidney to him but unfortunatley I have bad kidneys myself. My nephrologist has recommended that I do not have children which has been a tremendous blow because I have not had children yet and have always wanted them. I have been doing my best to keep moving forward and reading your blog has really helped me to realize how important social networking can be. I now have some positive thoughts about looking for a surrogate or adoption. I am single now but I am very optimistic that I will find someone who will love me enough to work through the process.
    I am so impressed with your compassion for others, donating platelets, your eggs and now your kidney.
    Thank you Laura for this post.

  15. Hi Anonymous-

    Let me give you these words of wisdom... being single should NEVER hold you back from having a baby. I realize finances might play into things, but I have raised my daughter by myself for the past 14 years, have contemplated insemination to have a second baby, and would do it by myself again in a heartbeat. Granted it is not the ideal dream that everybody has, but you can have a baby even if you don't find Mr. Right. Surrogacy and adoption happens for singles all the time. I am really, really sorry to hear about your dad. I hope that a kidney comes along for him soon and that you don't experience the same issues with your own kidneys. This blog has been quite the eye opener for me... I really had no idea how many people were in dire need of transplants. I wish I could harvest dozens or hundreds of kidneys and help everyone. Hopefully this blog will at least prompt one or two other people to donate. Then maybe the dominoes will start to fall. Thank you for posting and I hope you stay in touch.



  16. Hi Anonymous,
    Nephrologists don't want us to pass on our bad kidney health...I agree with that, I'm 40 and had to make the same decision you are being advised of. However, my Nephrologist has just informed me that genetic testing can help us with known genetic kidney failure issues and remove such concerns for an embryo. If you really want children, look into this procedure!

    Thank you LL--I look for updates to your blog each week. I too, will need a kidney transplant in the next couple years.

    Thank you for writing about every single step and needle prick you are experiencing. I have a needle phobia...not good if you have failing kidneys! But trying to talk to friends about donation, it's hard. And your site is going to be one of my reference sites!

  17. I'm curious as to what has happened since August 23 of this year...actually, since June 16, when LL last posted. I am a dialysis patient who has been waiting two or three years for a kidney transplant...I've lost track of time, spending three days a week hooked up to a machine. I have had over 40 offers of a kidney from family and friends, but sadly, each has been eliminated for one reason or another. But now I understand I am #2 on the waiting list, so there is definitely hope now! Good luck, LL! You are one wonderful human being! ...Dottie

  18. Hi Laura, Tell Michael to hang in there. My son age 27 had complete kidney failure in April. We too had become a part of a paired program because his cousin was not a close enough match. She with her huge heart offered her kidney to a person in Ca. and my son will be receiving a better match from the generousity of a donor in Va. Surgey will be sometime in mid Nov. to early Dec. this program has set a chain reaction that will have 17 transplants done at the same time in different states. God bless the couragous!