Why I Donated to a Stranger, and What I’m Thinking 9 Days Before Meeting Her

As I started down the path of donating my kidney, I had options. I could look at Matching Donors to see if there was anyone I wanted to donate to. I could choose to keep my kidney in the state of Wisconsin. I could start a donor chain, and with that I could choose to do a national chain or keep that in the state of Wisconsin. I could peruse the many Facebook and Instagram accounts set up for people needing kidneys. I could surf the web for stories of kids who are sick and need a kidney. There were a LOT of options.

Now you may be asking yourself- why didn’t she consider donating to someone she knew?

Good question.

One, I didn’t know anyone personally that needed a kidney.

And two, I preferred donating to a stranger. I didn’t want to donate to someone and have them feel like they owed me anything. I also didn’t want to be so invested in their recovery that I would watch them at a group dinner and ask ‘do you really need that second beer?’ or ‘are you drinking enough water?’ I didn’t want to have that kind of dynamic. I wanted to donate because I felt compelled to, and leave it at that. However the recipient handled their life post-transplant was their choice, and I’d wish them the best.

After I made my choice to start a national donor chain and the transplant date neared, I couldn’t help but wonder about my recipient. Would it be an older man? A younger woman? A child? Would the person speak English? Would they be nice? Would they have dreams they could fulfill after surgery? And of course I thought, will I ever meet them?

And now I have the answer to that.

My kidneys are reuniting in Colorado in just nine days.

I have watched a handful of videos on-line that show these kinds of reunions, and people are always crying, hugging for a long time, showing how emotional it is to finally meet.

What have I been concerned about? Having this reunion and not showing a ton of emotion. It’s surprising how little I feel a connection to what I did. My recovery was incredibly smooth, and I obviously have never met my recipient so I haven’t been able to see someone turn from sick to healthy.

On Sunday I received an email from my recipient telling me about her family, and asking me if she could bring some of her family members to our meeting. I of course said she could bring everyone and anyone she wanted – I know she’s been dreaming about this day.

And that’s when it hit me.

I will likely be meeting her dad, and he will look at me as the woman who saved his daughter. He will see me as the woman who could fix what he couldn’t.

For a couple hours, in one room in Westminster, Colorado, the people in that room will see me as the person that saved the woman they love. Holy shit. This just got real.

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