Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Tale of Two Kidneys


Photo Credit: S. R. Karfelt



Once Upon a Time…A teenage girl played basketball. Let’s call her Moe. Although Moe came from a family of dark-eyed, dark-haired, crazy-handsome Italians – she was ivory skinned and light, apparently inheriting only the crazy-handsome gene. Moe was one of the smaller players on the team, but mighty, skills that come in handy when you need a player to nab the ball off tall players. One day Moe missed a practice, and then another. This wasn’t allowed. Questions were asked. Rumor had it that Moe lay listlessly in her bed – something those who knew her couldn’t imagine. But being a loving and supportive team, well wishes were sent her way such as:


            Don’t you dare miss the game!
            Suck it up, Cupcake!
            You better have coughed up a lung or something!


Moe went to the doctor. The doctor sent her to the hospital. The hospital sent her to another hospital. At fifteen-years-old Moe was in Stage Five Renal Failure. It’s highly unusual to be much of a basketball player in Stage Five Renal Failure. As a matter of fact the doctors couldn’t believe she was still alive. Moe needed a kidney, and had for quite some time.


In retrospect Moe should have received some sort of MVP award for being the BEST basketball player EVER in Stage Five Renal Failure. Don’t you think?


Also in retrospect Stage Five Renal Failure can also be considered the “or something” part of “You better have coughed up a lung or something!”


Moe got a kidney though, because her Dad had a spare that was just her size. Dads can be awesome like that.


See how I did that? BAM. Moe got a kidney. I skipped right over all her dialysis and doctors, hospitals and time, and time and hospitals, and – well, you get the idea. It wasn’t that easy. Fighting for your life never is, but she did it. BAM. Moe got a kidney. Thanks Dad. She started to look Italian too. So now she had the dark-eyed, dark-haired, crazy-handsome package, AND a kidney which is a very important part of all package deals.


Insert some time and some complications – as you probably already know, life does that – and due to a series of unfortunate events Moe needed another kidney. Dad didn’t have another spare, I’m not sure that would have stopped him, but this time around the donation had parameters that ruled out her family members.


Although the world is chock-full of spare kidneys, the great bulk of the population isn’t Moe’s Dad. But a guy at Moe’s church offered to give her his. And it matched. Kidneys aren’t one-size fits all. I don’t know what the odds are of having a guy at your church offer you a kidney and have it fit, but I don’t think it happens every day. Turns out he’s not Moe’s Dad, but he is a Dad.


Life isn’t easy when your kidneys aren’t functioning. Just getting to dialysis three times a week to have a machine drain the blood out of your body, clean it, and put it back, well – it’s not the kind of fate teenage basketball players envision for after graduation. Yet this has been Moe’s life for years.


What’s impressed me so much about this young lady is the grace with which she’s endured. I’ve never even heard her complain. Once I heard her tell one of her brothers he should bring her a drink – and not make her get up – because she didn’t have a kidney, but I personally thought that was brilliant negotiation. I don’t think he fell for it though. Brothers don’t fall for that stuff – not even if you cough up a lung or something.


Next week Moe is going to get a new kidney. BAM. Yep. Just like that. Maybe one of these days she’ll write her own tale – and fill in the blanks. In the meantime if you’d like to give Moe a virtual high-five, click this link and “Like” her Facebook Bean for a Queen page. It’s an effort to raise awareness about organ donation.



And about your spare kidney – you can’t take it with you, you know? Well, you can, but it’s no good on the other side. For all we know you lose points for wasting it. Why not flip your driver’s license over right now and sign the organ donor section? Maybe mention it to your family too. BAM. 







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